artist savage knows his stuff by brother andy "Unique" is the Holy Grail in art. Everyone is searching for "it". When an artist breaks "the rules of art", the viewer is sometimes challenged to understand and appreciate what the artist is doing within the artist's work. Even those who are educated in the "language of art" can overlook obvious talent because art is basic storytelling in metaphoric code, requires an imaginative visceral response, and viewers may not have yet learned the basic keys of a particular artist's visual "storyline" -- especially someone of "vision". Art is about human experience and an artist's job is to challenge conventional thinking. There may not anything to compare an artist's work to because his work is original. Wide-spread myths about artists, such as "they are all crazy", may also impede full acknowledgement of talent when confronted by challenging work. Finding the right combination of time, place, materials, "storyline" and artistic self-actualization may come after years -- even decades -- of what seems to be failure. The true core principle of art (and all of media) is that of the artist telling you something you already know, that you recognize, playing off of your experiences and prejudices, with just enough surprise as to be entertaining. If an artist can not find "common ground" with a viewer in some manner, the art becomes so much gibberish and is negated, leaving everyone involved frustrated and sad. If an artist to stating too much of the obvious, the work is thought of as boring -- if thought of at all. What do you look at when critiquing, understanding and appreciating art? There are the traditional criteria of composition (the arrangement of elements within a framework), color theory (a purpose to color choices), contrast (elements are defined), subject matter (whether abstract or representational), technique (how the artist constructs the work), original presentation (the work says something new, in a new way, usually by including all the elements just described with intent). Additionally, some art scholars include historic context into the mix. I tend to also lump art into three general categories: cute (craft and hobbyists, decorative), witty (clever commercial professionals, functional), intellectual (work that makes you think, educational), and the radical (life-altering experiences, genius) in which the work transmits "a truth" beyond the combination of materials and literal meaning. Notice there has been no mention of fame or fortune as a scale for rating a "successful artist". The more a viewer studies the varied body of work of Palm Springs, California, fine artist, Savage, 43, the more one sees. Savage is a prolific painter, interior designer, author, multi-media entrepreneur, and forward-thinking gallery owner. He is also known as "the highest selling artist in the area", but don't let that fool you into thinking he's simply a work-for-hire. Analyze where he fits in the artistic scale by using the criteria described above and the work suddenly has a larger context than a "common professional artist who just makes work to sell". Performer Lady Gaga uses the creative process of "Retro-Future Intriguism Art Method" (that I am in the process of developing further) and so does Savage, even Versace and David Bowie do, although none of them are aware of the title. What they do is look to history for so much raw materials -- not a particular style or "stealing" -- but something that can be used, re-interpreted, a tool for problem-solving, to apply to today and call to a possible future. Whereas Pop is a direct use of cultural reference and Dada is basically de-constructional in approach, Retro-Futurism starts by not conforming to any "isms" at all, widening a spectrum of the "language of art" to be all-inclusive (and decidedly without the hostile attitude found in many artist's work where the "joke" is on the art world itself). Savage's vision is not so much as "influenced" by the past or present, as much as a reference catalogue of collective concepts, a collage of inspirations, brought together in a cohesive presentation. Savages' "Big Head" series alone is as valid as any Picasso portrait, with the same kind of child-like abstraction and freedom from stuffy representational art. In these paintings of conflicting mood (both vibrant youthfulness and tainted moodiness), Savage is a true colorist -- with canary yellow, bright orange and day-glow green -- but the finish layer is grungy, dirty, aged with a veneer of washed black, leaving a masterly touch of serious social commentary. Whimsy not withstanding, this is art to be taken seriously. Pop art elements spring up in his graphic displays such as coffee cup and dog portraits. Dada influences are seen in the collage media. Savage is prolific and proficient. Will Savage's work stand the test of time? Yes. Surrealism, Abstract, Modern, commercial art, satire -- it's all there, if one looks. Those who don't look and see are missing out. Savage's work is unique -- edgy, bold, contemporary, fresh. He has "it".