Slow Art versus Fast Art


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"Calm & Exhilarated in the Whistler Alpine" Canada impressionist acrylic and palette knife painting by Rebecca Collett, Artist Perth Australia (c) 2018. Banner image for blog post "Slow Art versus Fast Art" written by Rebecca Collett

What’s the difference between “Slow Art” and “Fast Art”?

If I said “Slow Food” and “Fast Food”, the odds are high you’d know exactly what I was talking about.

When the word “Slow” is applied to “Art”, the definition is very similar. We consider how it is produced, consumed and disposed of, and all the steps, people and outcomes in between.

Slow Art stems from the Slow Movement, which encourages slowing down. We’ve seen it predominantly in food and fashion, but we can apply it to every aspect of our lives:

“Being Slow means doing everything at the correct speed: quickly, slowly or whatever pace works best. Slow means being present, living each moment fully, putting quality before quantity in everything from work and sex to food and parenting.”

Carl Honoré, the voice of the Slow Movement

During my time at university I went backpacking in Europe. Since I loved art history in high school, I took a tour of the Vatican.

Having only seen a handful of photographs, the majority of which were black and white photocopies of photocopies, I was a bundle of barely contained excitement…. just like the 20,000 other people jostling back and forth.

All I wanted to do was lie down on the floor and just look at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Fear stopped me. Fear of being trampled and an eighteen year old’s fear of being thought a weirdo or even more mortifying, being thrown out by the guards in funky hats. The officious tour guide and her very efficient ticking clock also overwhelmed me.

It took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling, how could I even start to absorb this incredible creation within fifteen minutes? People were bumping into each other, heat was rising from so many bodies in a confined space, cameras were flashing (although prohibited), legs and feet ached, throat was dry…

I needed a slow appreciation and consumption, but 500 years after it’s completion, Michaelangelo’s breathtaking artwork lives on. Five hours lying in silence and contemplation would have been a truly profound experience. This is Slow Art at the highest level.

However, Slow Art doesn’t have to last 500 years or even five hours, just look at Morning Alters on Instagram  This artist focuses on impermanent art; it’s fleeting, but natural, incredibly thoughtful and accessible to everyone.

How’s this different from Fast Art? Or a painting, drawing or poem that is completed in a couple of hours?

If you walk into a big chain store, you can spend $50-$200 and buy a mass-produced poster. It might even come with a plastic frame. After a month or so you’ll probably forget that it is hanging on your lounge room wall. In a year or two it will fade and you’ll eventually throw it out after dusting it and realising it hasn’t aged well. That’s Fast Art. Short term pleasure, long term environmental impact.

Around the world artists are confounded.

Speak to them and they will shake their head at the Fast Art trend. Just like Fast Food, Fast Art is highly processed, quickly made and disposed of even faster. There is little, if any, concern for the original artist, fair trade or the environmental impact.

For an equivalent price you can buy an original artwork from a community art gallery, an Open Studio event or a local art market. Why?

Because for the same price as Fast Art, you can enjoy the perpetuating benefits of Slow Art:

-You can speak with the artist and discover the story behind the art and the artist.

-It’s original. No one will have one exactly like yours.

-Use it as a talking point with visitors to your home or office, building a connection with them. You’ll also help spread the word about the artist, further supporting them.

-You’ll reduce the transport cost on the environment. The odds are the artist bought their supplies at their local art store, they live in your city or town and delivery impacts can be reduced.

-Discover the artist’s sustainability practices e.g. eco-friendly products, recycling, packaging, water usage etc.

-Because you have a connection with the piece, every time you look at it (and you’ll want to), you’ll have a positive emotional response, which means you won’t want or need to discard it after a couple of years. If you do move on emotionally from it, you’ll probably gift it to someone else or take it to a charity store. It won’t end up in landfill.


Slow Art is an experience you’ll remember; you’ll discover a connection with the artwork.

Slow Art is about being present, living each moment fully and putting quality before quantity.

Relax into the process.

"Calm & Exhilarated in the Whistler Alpine" Canada impressionist acrylic and palette knife painting by Rebecca Collett, Artist Perth Australia (c) 2018

“Calm & Exhilarated in the Whistler Alpine”  Click Image to see painting details

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