hm. I’m not a good person to ask about this; I’m too privileged to have any expertise in whether a thing is ableist or not. I’m going to publish this because i do have a lot of disabled or differently-abled artists and craftspeople following me who can give you a much more authoritative answer if they feel like it. I will say that even aside from the question of ableism, I think the “bootstraps” worldview is poisonous in general, not to mention unrealistic + ahistorical. It also frames the speaker’s definition of “this good” as some sort of objective goal, which is sensical only in the context of capitalism.
I can say as an artist and an armchair academic (as if that bestows any kind of authority) that the definition of “good art” or even “skill” is useful only contextually, either to the speaker or in the framework of critical analysis of an artist or works, or a genre, etc. Being “good” at new yorker cartoons doesn’t require you to have a strong grasp of draftsmanship or anatomy. It might help you to convey an idea, but then again it might not. likewise, being a competent author of droll one-liners isn’t going to win you any prizes at the National Portrait Gallery’s annual competition, but forty years of grueling anatomical and still life studies probably will.
i can also say, with authority born of experience in my “chosen” career, that literally every piece of visual media has an audience. no matter how crude, unpracticed, cartoonish, stylized, or abstract. it is one of the wonderful things about living in the modern era imo—representational art is still a valid field, but it’s not the only bitch on the block anymore. some of my favorite artists right now are working with a style that any high school art teacher would dismiss as “crude” or “unpracticed”, nothing your grandma would even put on her fridge. i’m not going to conclude this paragraph by saying “…and it doesn’t matter”, because it absolutely does matter—it’s part of what that artist has to say, regardless of whether they wish they were “better” at traditional anatomy and draftsmanship or not.
What I’m trying to say is, I believe now that all art is inherently valid and valuable. However “bad” or unpopular or amateur or vapid or beautiful or pregnant with meaning, and regardless of how much I hate or like it, and regardless also of how morally or politically sound it is, someone is going to love it. Even in my own limited oeuvre, so many people are attached to paintings and drawings of mine that I think are just abject garbage. So our tastes disagree—so what? I made a thing and someone likes it. It gives them some satisfaction, it makes their lives better in an infinitesimal way. That’s good enough for me. It’s okay to act as a conduit for a thing you may not understand or appreciate. And it took me a long fuckin’ time to figure that out.