Art is the Spice of Life

Josh Grant
2 min readFeb 13, 2024


A lovely display of spices in a market, where various spices are in a conical pile along with their prices.
Photo taken by Bertrand Devouard — Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. Well, I’m going to suggest that art is actually the spice of life.

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate living away from home for the first time, I discovered a bulk food store not far from my house. I casually walked in one day, not really thinking about much, and discovered the store had a fairly good selection of spices. Each in marked bins with a code and a price per 100 grams, I took a sample of spices I was vaguely familiar with or had seen used elsewhere. Far from being a worldly epicurean, I mostly chose spices that were hot (chili flakes, cayenne pepper) or I’d seen in relation to Indian-style flavouring (cumin, turmeric, curry) as these spices appeared to be new and exciting to me. I was so green I didn’t even notice what salts were available. I scooped what I thought were appropriate amounts of each into tiny plastic bags, carefully labelled each one with the bin number, and presented my purchases to the cashier.

I don’t remember the final amount I paid, but I do remember it being small: I may have paid five dollars for the whole lot at most. Some spices cost literal cents on the dollar. It turned out that — despite my lackadaisical choices—those bags of spices lasted months. While my cooking would not have earned a Michelin star, the spices did make things taste a bit better or at least more interesting.

The biggest lesson for me that day: adding a little spice to my cooking is an inexpensive way to make life just a bit better.

How is this like art?

Lately I’ve been getting into art, both art appreciation and art practice. In a way, I’ve always been into art but just didn’t realize it until much later in life. In both making art and following both amateur and professional artists, something occurred to me: having art you enjoy in your life can be (and often is) pretty inexpensive. Art materials are readily available, and for a few dollars you can create paintings, drawings, sculpture, writing and/or music. Most people have access to smartphones or tablets, which mean they also have access to a decent quality camera. And if you decide to appreciate art made by other people, many art galleries are accessible to folks on every budget, with even the most prestigious galleries having options for free admission.

And like spices, the low cost of purchase may last a long time: making painting yourself can be kept indefinitely, and seeing art can move you deeply for years to come.



Josh Grant

I’m a software professional, and these are my more personal thoughts.