Or, how to look at "bad" art and still enjoy it.
I can tell when creative work is not a struggle. I sense it, I see it. I don’t like looking at art that leaves no evidence of struggle. To be clear, someone that makes their struggle look effortless has, and very likely still does struggle. There is a very big difference between the voice of a practiced master and the trickery of duplicating a style.
I can see when a creator is doing lazy work for the praise of a style. I don’t mean a style they’ve developed, it’s not uncommon to view creative work that is mocking the style of a successful creator.
Sometimes, in an attempt to learn, an artist will copy old masters or modern masters. I admire an artist that intentionally copies a hero that they have. That is a practice that has a long history in the training of artists. This practice has great value when used as a tool to develop your own abilities or voice. Often that practice reveals a certain struggle to understand the hero in the equation.
When there is struggle in the work, there may not be perfection in the style or execution. When there is struggle, there is an effort of the creator to find their own voice. If you can see this effort, you are looking at good work.
The word, “work” includes a foray into the uncomfortable. Whether the discomfort is the scope of the work, a new medium that feels clumsy, or maybe the subject itself; for a creator to be uncomfortable, and to move through that discomfort is how growth happens. We learn something (or at least experience something) different in the discomfort.
Struggle creates growth. To recognize a growing artist is the way to take the subjective element out of judging artwork.
Subjectively, art is either pleasurable to the viewer or not or neither. But, creative work can always be enjoyed when it reveals the struggle of the artist fighting to find their “voice”.
That type of work clues you into the presence of the true artist.