A Matter of Taste

Taste is an odd thing.


As an artist, taste is something that I have to consider fairly frequently. I have my own tastes, but “my audience” has a totally different palette; there is overlap but I do have to think about a wider variety of tastes.

It’s not always something at the forefront of my mind when I am painting or designing a new piece of jewellery; most of the time I work for myself, but I want people to notice me. To like me.

From all the tutors, lecturers, teachers and just general artists and people I know the best advice I have received is to always work for yourself. If you are doing something to impress somebody else then it’s probably not worth doing. Which is why taste interests me so much. I find it so fascinating how something can totally rock my world but that same thing can cause a spout of hateful anonymous internet abuse from somebody else.

The idea of taste is constantly changing.

Laver’s Law = the theory of taste in fashion trends. If you are wearing something well before it’s time then it is indecent, but a few years before it’s time then you are daring. Wearing something of it’s time is fashionable. Wearing it a few years later is dowdy, and then ridiculous but take it 50 years into the future and it is charming and classic.

Taste is mediated.

Taste is never disinterested.

Taste is socially driven. We use taste as a judgement and the judgement of taste is the judgement of common sense. Knowing what is and what is not acceptable is a key social skill. The “gatekeepers” of taste and the factors changing taste are journalists, academics, celebrities, designers, curators, etc. I am one of those people. Will my designs, will my art change the future of taste? One can only hope…….


I was thinking about an odd example of good versus bad taste that I remembered from my own life. I was at an Amanda Palmer concert and she was talking about the release of her new single Oasis:

Which is a great song, but a load of radio stations wont play it because it “makes light of date rape and abortion” and I can see their point of view. It is an up-beat major key song with a dark subject matter, but as a fan of Amanda Palmer I know that it doesn’t. I know she goes well out of her way to not offend people. I filmed what she was saying (below) and it makes so much sense as soon as you hear her talk about it, but I can see the semi-transparent line she may have crossed. For people who know nothing of her you would most likely see this song in bad taste at a first listen, but then you read a bit further into it and into her and it is in good taste. I guess taste is subjective.



Another in my life example of good versus bad taste that I remembered during this lecture was when I was trying to come up with an outift to wear to a bad taste themed party. I was going with a friend and we were both sitting trying to come up with something unique; rather than raiding my mum’s wardrobe… We suggested dressing as Baby P and Madeline McCann complete with black eyes and a deathly palor. To us, this was the epitome of bad taste in a good taste sort of way. We saw it as being the perfect outfit; there was effort in it, it was topical, it was funny, it was all that was needed for a bad taste party. I told my mum this is what we were going to dress as and she pretty much wouldn’t let us. It was a bad taste party but apparently we had gone too far. It was too bad taste. It’s strange where the line is drawn and how easily it can be tripped over. I ended up going as Sarah Palin.


And here is a fun little quirp you can do to assess your musical taste. It connects with your itunes and creates one song that combines all of your most played songs of that time.

Here is mine:



I quite like this as a way of tracking my musical taste. I think I’m going to try and do one each year to see the alterations in my music taste.

Do I have good or bad taste?

Chloe out.


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