A Slice of Pye

‘Originality’ — Paragraph 14, Chapter 16, Blue Book

‘[I]t has long been understood that striving for [originality] as an end in itself is the mark of an inferior artist. The personal style of a good artist is never something that has been deliberately cultivated and forced but something that has appeared unsought as inevitably as the personal style of a man’s handwriting. But since all artists of note are seen to have a distinct personal style, no artist can hope to make a reputation in a competitive society unless he too can show a distinctive style which easily differentiates his work from that of other artists and draws attention to it. Therefore artists of little capability or uncertain vocation will take great care to make their work look ‘different’, whereas those with any certainty in them will know that their work can not help but look different from that of other people any more than their signatures can. It is worth reflecting that the fact of the unmistakable individuality of each man’s signature is one foundation of modern commerce everywhere. To establish the individuality of it one need not write it vertically up the page in letters two inches high. And yet there are only twenty six letters, and everyone else uses them too.’

Pye, David. (1978) The Nature and Aesthetics of Design. London: The Herbert Press

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