This is a question I’ve asked myself a lot and just couldn’t quite figure out.
The world of art can feel so impenetrable. I always loved the idea of being an artist, spending my days painting and making stuff, and living out all my magical creative dreams. But how could I make that happen?
People get pretty sketchy around the word “artist” (pun totally intended). The terminology, and the art world at large, can be grossly elitist. After all, it’s people paying a fair bit of money for pure beauty. We don’t need art. It’s brilliant and it’s magic and it sets my heart on fire, but art is a complete luxury. And, maybe even more than money, art is a luxury of time. Art can only really be practiced by those who have time (or those who diligently make time) and, haven’t you heard? – time is money. So, art is this thing for the rich. Art is a luxury to be attained and pursued. We don’t need art but we want it. Oh, how we want it.
I didn’t go to art school. I thought about it. A lot. I still do. I’ve imagine alternate lives where I spent days in the studio instead of the labs. I think about how far along I’d be with my art practice now and how my life could be different. But mostly, the reasons I wish I’d have gone to art school comes down to the literal time that I would have spent deeply immersed in art.
Sure, people told me that I shouldn’t go to art school but they are not to be blamed. I was the one who listened. For whatever reason I wasn’t ready and I wasn’t brave enough to simply listen to my own wants and desires.
I think I might be ready now. I think that now I’m ready to commit to making art. I mean, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making art but it’s been largely passive. It’s been bound to stuff I was making to make money. It’s been art where I was a bit distant from the subject because I kept thinking “I’m not a real artist, I didn’t study art, so I don’t know how to do it like that.”
For the past few months I’ve just been making. I’ve painted more this year than in the rest of my life combined. I’ve been completely content with my gaze at the end of a paintbrush for hours and hours and I’ve been entirely enraged that my skills aren’t up to the level I want them to be just yet. But I’m getting better. Everything I paint is better than the last. As these paintings are coming together and I take a step back, from what’s been inches from my face for so long, I feel so very proud of myself.
Something that feels really truly lovely is that with everything I create, I’ve been feeling more and more like myself. Isn’t that amazing? I feel like I’m re-aligning myself to who I am and I’ve never have it feel so obvious and literal. It’s pretty surreal. It’s like looking through old photographs and recognising yourself, except the photographs are brand new and happening all around me.
Here’s the thing:
I didn’t study art professionally. I don’t have an expansive portfolio or even much history of work I’ve made. But then, isn’t that the problem? I wasn’t classing myself as an artist because I wasn’t making art. I wanted the title but wasn’t even working towards it!
I remember a few years ago my nephew introduced me to his friends as his “aunt, the artist.” It is, to this very day, the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me. As a kid, he didn’t need to see my CV to see me as an artist. He just saw me making art. It’s that simple.
So, make your art. Pour your heart and your soul into it. Wake up early and go to bed late. Commit to a life of paint stained hands and clothes, an obsession with fonts, and a constant stream of ideas that it is your absolute right and purpose to put into fruition.
So, you want to know how to become an artist?