In my last article, I told you that I wanted to speak about the numerous reasons to feel bad as an artist. So I thought that I would just dive right into it this week. I won’t be posting only about that in the next weeks, but there are some of these reasons that I really wanted to talk about right away. So …what would be the first reason to feel bad as an artist ? I think it’s the relentles thought “I’m not a REAL artist”. And we all find our reasons to justify that very convincingly ! “I haven’t been to art school, I don’t draw from imagination, It takes me forever to get my proportions right, …”
My own personnal reason has for a long time been : I’m not a painter and I don’t use paint or canvas. I thought that color pencils are not what a real artist would use. But the fact is that I don’t like paint. Using it really stresses me out. I mean I love it when others do it ! But paint annoys me so much ! It frustrates me and brushes with paint on it do exactly what they want, and they’re so not cooperative. Haha !! I feel like a crazy person when I say that. But it’s true. So on one hand I don’t like to paint, and on the other hand I always felt like I had to be a painter to be a real artist. Isn’t that the most slef destructive idiotic thought I could have had ?
The same thoughts about my subject matter also ran through my mind. I had the engraved feeling that I could only be a somewhat succesful artist if I did contemporary/abstract/social … art. And that is really not my thing. Because really, what’s the purpose of being a creator if you force yourself to do subjects or techniques that doesn’t reflect who you are and what you love ?
Another big reason that someone often think that they’re not a real artist, is that they didn’t go to art school. But unlike medical school, art shcool doesn’t give you the right to call yourself an artist. It gives you keys to become one. And you can very well obtains these keys with some other ways. Your comittment, curiosity, and hard work are the most important things you have to possess, not a degree.
The school will provide you invaluable knowledge and techniques, but it’s totally possible to get what you need in other manners. You can find the most various and interesting books there are, you can watch amazing youtube/patreon videos or elsewhere, you can meet other artists … There are no limits to how you can learn and practice art, so art school … Not a reason !!
“I don’t draw from imagination”. Here is something that I’ve heard so many times !! I don’t know why or when people have started to think that your art is only valuable if you drew from your imagination, but it’s a real plague. On one side you have artists with low self confidence who think that they should draw from imagination, and on the other are the people asking you if you used a reference picture, which drives the point home. When in reality artists have always used references. Whether it’s stilllife, nude models, nature, or pictures, if you want to draw something, you have to look at this thing first !
Even when it’s contemporary abstract figures, artists use references. Of course, you can do without it when you are used to drawing something ! You can also imagine elements you have never drew before. But using references is a tool, not something that validate your artist satus. It’s only up to you to decide when you need some references or not.
There are so many other reasons to feel like a fraud : “I’m not a full time artist. I don’t earn money with it. My art is only digital work. I never dare to show it to people. I don’t expose in galleries. I’m not as good as this other person. …” . Generally speaking, I think that we all have an idea of what an artist is supposed to be. But art is so versatile and is exactly what a person makes of it. It can take as many form and expression as there are people, and you just have to jump in that scary void and call yourself an artist. Because if you do artistic things, and art is important to you, and makes you feel alive, don’t overthink it ! You just are an artist.