Hi, I’m an artist.
I have been a self-professed artist for a while now, except that now I want to do this for a living.
That sound you hear is the collective gasp of Indian aunties and uncles around the world. “How will you pay your bills? Why waste your intellect on art? Who will marry you?”
Don’t worry friends, this isn’t a post on the perceptions of artists in the community (not today, world); I’m actually writing an inspirational post for a change. This is for you, creatives.
I recently borrowed a book from the library, titled Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon. It is basically an essential guide for budding (and bloomed!) artists who want to kickstart a career in art. It has been most helpful and inspirational and I highly recommend it.
Well, what are you waiting for? Buy it here:
1. If you live in Singapore and surrounding areas, I recommend Book Depository.
2. People in India, don’t fret! Our trusty Flipkart… doesn’t have it. But Amazon does.
3. Please buy the book guys, but um, here’s a PDF. You’re welcome.
Okay, let’s get to the meat of the post.
I am mostly a self taught artist. I say mostly because I took art classes for 6 years as a teen which were highly enjoyable and enlightening but did not influence my current style in any way. I did learn pencil shading and painting though.
After graduating high school, I applied to art school, and… did not get in. I took the “proper” choice and went to architecture school. I’m not saying that 4 years of Archi school left me mentally crippled and gave me mild PTSD for studios and floor plans… but it did. But did that put a barrier on my passion and enthusiasm? Yes. Did I let that impede my quest for never ending creativity? Also yes.
Okay I digress; the point is,
I did not go to art school.
However, this does not stop me from giving you guys unwarranted advice about the matter anyway. So here is part one of said unwarranted advice:
1. You need not go to art school to become an artist. You just need the love for art. And a mountain of artwork. That’s it. Congratulations, you’re an artist.
2. Just start drawing. There’s a comic by OwlTurd that encompasses this perfectly:
Basically, get off your ass and start drawing. It could be anything; your feelings, your favourite fictional character, or scenes from Everyday life. But you can never be an artist if you don’t start.
3. No creative is ever satisfied. To quote Angelica Schuyler, you will never be satisfied with your work. You need to be content with your work, but never satisfied. This is good, because it means you’re looking for constant improvement. The important thing though is to not let this cripple your enthusiasm to create more work. Never compare yourself to others; the only person you compare yourself to is your past self. There is a very helpful graph about the difference between your art quality and your art perception. You can see it here:
I’m in a constant state of loathing regarding my art; it affects my productivity and I’m trying very hard to improve in this venture.
4. Look at other artists’ work. This is in direct contradiction to my previous statement but I have a reason for this. There are great artists out there, therefore, you have an unlimited range of inspiration. Follow artists whose styles are closer to what you want to achieve; they are your muses and senseis. I asked my art teacher how I can improve and she said to start by copying. You can copy art until you are comfortable with the materials and your tools; I used to speed sketch Disney characters as warmups, and this got me through art blocks as well. This however, comes with a disclaimer: ALWAYS CREDIT THE ARTISTS WHOSE WORK YOU’RE COPYING; IT IS THE ULTIMATE DICK MOVE TO TAKE SOMEONE’S HARDWORK AND TO PASS IT OFF AS YOUR OWN. Don’t be that guy.
To get you started, here are a few of my favourite artists:
- Brigid Vaughn AKA Burdge-Bug . She is kind of MIA at the moment, but she is first on the list because her style basically kick-started my illustration journey. She will always be my first inspiration.
- Gabriel Picolo AKA Picolo-Kun AKA Senpai. Brazilian artist/illustrator; if you’ve seen some modern Teen Titans art floating around, odds are they are his. His technique is commendable and a major learning point for me. (Psst- He’s self taught!)
- Laura Heikkala AKA Heikala – She’s a Finnish illustrator who is a wizard with inks and watercolours. She puts up a lot of process videos so you get to see her work from the ground up!
- Brian Kesinger – He’s an illustrator from Disney! ’nuff said.
- Griz and Norm – A story artist couple from Disney, they put up a lot of tutorials, and both have very different art styles which are interesting to see.
- If you want inspiration from the very Source™, Go see the blogs of the legends Glen Keane and Andrea Deja.
- Finally, I’m making a shout-out to a good friend of mine, Meghna, who also struggled through Architecture school and is now doing Graphic design. She has been a great source of motivation (since we have so much in common!) and you should totally check out her art, and her Pinterest boards.
I think these are enough to go on for the time being. If you want more suggestions, just follow them on Instagram and see who they are following! They are a wonderful and close-knit community of cuties.
PS: it is also important to not compare yourselves to these artists, or go down the rabbit hole of scrolling through their art tags and then forgetting what year it is as you emerge as a bawling mess of unproductivity. (I’m speaking from experience, please don’t do this)
5. Get a goddamn Pinterest page. I’m serious, if you don’t have one yet, please get one. As an artist, you will amass a ton of visual references and imagery and Pinterest is a treasure trove of artist tutorials and references. I don’t care if you’re too lazy to sign up; in the words of the great Shia LaBeouf, JUST DO IT.
To kick things off, you can follow my boards here. (Yes, shameless self-plug; it’s required in this day and age.)
This has already been a long post, so I shall stop this here, and continue in another post!
Mini Conclusion – I quote from Art Inc. – “You don’t have to starve to be an artist.”
Please don’t starve, nerds; there are better ways for creative stimulation.
You can read Part 2 here.