But, How Can We Make "Art?": Artistic Production Versus Realistic Copying and Perceptual Advantages of Artists

Matthew Pelowski*, Patrick S. Markey, Juergen Goller, Eric L. Förster, Helmut Leder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

9 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing or otherwise making visual art is one of our most unique distinctions from other animals and acts as an empirical window into human perception, creativity, and thought. Despite its importance, art production has rarely been investigated in empirical studies, which have instead focused on realistic copying or comparison of those with differing amounts of training in the arts. Although this has provided compelling findings, especially when coupled with standardized perception and personality measures intended to uncover unique abilities of artists, this raises the question of whether previous results actually do correlate with the ability to produce more freeform artistic expressions or successful works of "art." Here we employ a new paradigm, utilizing visual cues which are employed by participants to create quick drawings with the aim of specifically making works of art. These were coupled with standardized measures for realistic copying and personality/perception batteries which have shown correlations with skillful copiers and trained artists. Drawings were rated by expert and novice judges for artistic quality, creativity, liking, and realism. Results supported the veracity of our paradigm and showed similarities to previous copying research in self-reported artistic ability. However, differences were found for reported creativity, which only correlated with art quality, for angle drawing, which only correlated with copying, and for perception/memory tests, which showed an interaction with judge type, with only novice judges' scores resulting in significant correlations to quality of produced art. The results are discussed in terms of implications for future art making and copy research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-481
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Artistic production
  • Artists
  • Drawing
  • Perceptual advantages
  • Realistic copy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology


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