Three Tips to Pursue Appreciation Without Being a Snob

Everyone who has taken even introductory art classes will know that even if you don’t have the skills to be an artist, developing an appreciation of art is vital for human beings to have better empathy, acceptance of different perspectives, and engage in thoughtful conversation. The same benefits extend to other disciplines, such as music and literature, and cultural appreciation in general.

Yet in a world of snap judgments and increasingly unrestrained online provocation and retaliation, it’s become too easy for people to label others as snobs. While some do engage in a form of pretense to elevate their perceived status, this negative association can hinder many people from fully appreciating the arts and humanities. The unjust accusation of snobbery can spread to other aspects of life; craft coffee lovers who avoid Starbucks, and homeowners in Lehi who apply epoxy floor finish to make concrete smooth and shiny, may simply want a better end product. Here are some ways to ensure that you’re pursuing true appreciation of craft and quality in any realm.

Expand and experiment

People who are considered to have better taste in a particular area don’t get it by accident. Appreciation is a skill and can be nurtured. You can’t justly criticize someone for being an art snob if you don’t invest some time in viewing and understanding various types of art. Expand your horizons; have an open mind and be willing to experiment. Gain new experiences and try to see things from different perspectives. Take notes; how did a certain piece make you feel? Did it evoke memories or personal associations? What elements of the piece created those feelings? When you can grasp and clarify those things, you can have a thoughtful discussion – and in the process, expose anybody who’s faking it and being a snob.

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Learn from the right sources

Not all aspects of art, music, literature, and other disciplines can be fully understood or appreciated on your own, especially if you aren’t a practitioner. Yet there are some experts in each creative field who are valued as critics. Instead of listening to the vast majority of knee-jerk opinions from armchair critics, look for sources of informed criticism and opinion; find no-nonsense reviewers who communicate with clarity and have no vested interest in promoting a specific work, artist, or product. These sources will help point out the broader themes you may have missed, or minutiae which indicate whether something is a result of mastering the craft or maybe just an unintentional, ‘happy accident’ at work.

Be authentic

When you’ve acquired a greater breadth and depth of knowledge about a subject, your tastes may be better informed – but your appreciation can still be easily skewed by popular opinion. This is where status-seeking snobs can be differentiated from those who truly appreciate a craft; if reasons for appreciation are driven by social motives, one will inevitably follow only what’s trending or held to be great by consensus. Reflect upon your notes; if you like or dislike something for reasons you can articulate, be authentic. Don’t be swayed by snobbish opinions of value, budget, or merit. Appreciation in the creative disciplines is always personal, so speak for yourself and let the discussion flow.

Too often people can be quick to brand someone a snob for simply trying to elevate their tastes and thus increase their level of understanding and appreciation. Use these tips as a guide to stay true and avoid the pitfalls of chasing the wrong motivations and becoming a snob.

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