How to become an artist- WITH PICTURES!
August 10, 2017 9:21 PM   Subscribe

 
This is actually a really good discussion on the process of becoming an artist. The skills are things you probably do every day- it's a matter of directing them in new way.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 9:53 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Don't start a family.
posted by Laotic at 10:39 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Starve.
posted by Neale at 10:43 PM on August 10


I expected this to be much more of a typical cack-handed WikiHow shitshow; it was actually pretty decent (as a sometime artist).
posted by klangklangston at 10:46 PM on August 10


I have a family thank you- and doing art with your (or anyone else's) kids is a great way of connecting with them. I have a day job, and am not quitting it anytime soon. Art has this very mystical bullshit thing going on- like only people who are "skilled" or "brilliant" or "know how to draw a straight line" are allowed to do it. Not so. Only you see things the way you see them- and sometimes it's the way other people need to see it too.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 11:03 PM on August 10 [9 favorites]


There is a distinct difference between doing a bit of painting on the weekend, and managing to earn a living as a professional gallery exhibiting artist today.


The sentiment that years of intense study and awareness of the history of art is absolutely necessary for creating relevant contemporary art is however quite controversial in some circles and ignored by the "professionalism is killing art" brigade. (i.e. LuckyMonkey21 and the "everyone can be an artist" rhetoric). What if that film "Whiplash" actually portrayed the necessary sacrifice of being a significant "artist" today in any specialized field?
posted by mary8nne at 1:28 AM on August 11


There is a distinct difference between doing a bit of painting on the weekend, and managing to earn a living as a professional gallery exhibiting artist today.

Do you think the person who is seeking to earn a living as a professional, gallery-exhibiting artist is going to be confused into thinking this represents a complete picture of how to accomplish this, alongside some kind of guarantee? Are you concerned about people being misled somehow? I have all kinds of eye-rolly feelings about Wikihow generally, but I do have some faith that readers of Metafilter won't be confused that this is something other than a beginner's overview.
posted by Sequence at 4:00 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


What if that film "Whiplash" actually portrayed the necessary sacrifice of being a significant "artist" today in any specialized field?
Yeah, I think the romanticization of artistic suffering is a bit over the top. The idea that a teacher should attempt to create suffering where none currently exists in order to bring out the "real artist" is a real thing that I've experienced, and to me it just feels like getting abused by an asshole. But I'm also of the (unpopular) opinion that art doesn't have to say anything. It's ok to "just" be a craftsperson, and that's it's own kind of art. Decorative arts are great, representational art is great, commercial art is great, therapeutic art is great.

Anyway, this is a cool guide, and I think it handily answers 90% of the "how do I art" questions I've seen over the years on various art forums.

(On Preview: Sequence, I read mary8anne's comment as a response to the "don't start a family" and "starve" comments prior. I could be wrong. If so, apologies.)
posted by xyzzy at 4:06 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Oh, that would make more sense--if so, my bad! I read it as a response to the original and hence feeling a bit baffled.
posted by Sequence at 4:08 AM on August 11


There is a distinct difference between doing a bit of painting on the weekend, and managing to earn a living as a professional gallery exhibiting artist today.

And that difference is not dependent on whether or not an artist has a family or a day job. Nikki Maloof has children, as does Laurie Simmons, and Tara Donovan, and Kara Walker, and Damien Hirst, and Ai Wei Wei, and....

Whether or not one is able to "earn a living as a professional gallery exhibiting artist today" depends on three things: 1. Whether they have the talent to produce work that people like, 2. whether they make the time to complete that work, and 3. whether a gallery also likes it and wants to feature it. None of those conditions are dependent on whehter they work 24/7 or "only on weekends", and none of those conditions are dependent on whether they have kids.

It could be argued that some artists actually work better if they have a day job - because they then wouldn't be forced to compromise their vision out of desperation just to make money. If they have the teaching job at a grade school or the desk job M-F, then that is funding them and their own art can be the weird stuff they want to do that has a niche audience that's starting to grow.

A really limiting idea of what it means to "be an artist" exists, and we have the idea that if people aren't slaving 24/7 and starving themselves, it "doesn't count". I'm going to paraphrase something Stephen King said about writing, but it still applies: If you were able to sell some of your work to someone, the check they gave you did not bounce, and it was enough money to pay a utility bill, you are an artist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 AM on August 11 [10 favorites]


Observe (the real world, other art), Learn the craft of your chosen medium, Produce work, Put it out into the world, Rinse and repeat - you are an artist.

To be a 'professorial artist' ie earn a living at it, requires a certain amount of talent (natural and/or learned) and/or hustle for attention plus producing work on a regular basis

But you can be anywhere in between (see the King quote above)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:21 AM on August 11


I would add: Remember when you were a kid and how you would lose yourself in the joy of simply drawing with crayons? Go there.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Those pics are screaming out to be captioned with naughty, unrelated quips.
posted by james33 at 5:28 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


I hate the idea that art has to be a certain thing or it doesn't count. It doesn't count unless you're in a gallery, or you can sell it, or you can make a living off of it. And even then, Thomas Kinkade made millions off of his art, but I'm sure there are people who would say he never counted as an artist, either.

Art can be any creative thing a person produces. There's an elite world within that, but that world isn't the totality. When someone who isn't in that world makes something compelling -- a janitor in DC who builds an enormous temple, or a blue collar worker who dies and leaves behind hundreds of pastel drawings -- we call them an outsider artist, to distinguish them from the established elite.

I went on a couple dates with an artist, years ago. She had gone to one of the top art schools in the country. We used to go to gallery shows together. I was totally ignorant abou art. She'd say "look, a lot of this stuff is only exciting to me because I live in this world, so I can spot references to other works and see reactions to current trends that are unknown to the vast majority of people." It wasn't an elitist statement, and if anything she was kind of dismissive of it.

Her point was articulated better by her than by me, but it helped me appreciate a lot that I had been missing in modern art (as in, why would bold bright colors have been exiting at this moment in art history?), and it helped me take gatekeeping a lot less seriously. Someone might call your art pedestrian because they've seen stuff like it a dozen times more than you have. Does that mean you're not an artist, or does it mean you don't go to enough gallery shows? Is that a requirement for being an artist?

(Anyway, the only art I ever make is videos of cats set to music, so I'm not trying to sound authoritative here.)
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:26 AM on August 11 [5 favorites]


The idea that a teacher should attempt to create suffering where none currently exists in order to bring out the "real artist" is a real thing that I've experienced, and to me it just feels like getting abused by an asshole.

The best creative writing professor I ever had often made fun of the "the artists' life is suffering" trope. His advice was always something to the effect of "If you want to do this, treat it like a job. Do it ever day. Like all jobs, some days it will suck. There are a million things you can find to do other than write--drugs, sex, reorganizing your sock drawer, learning Russian, playing video games, competitive yo-yo--and your greatest challenge will be to not those things until after you've actually written something. Whenever you hear a writer talk about the grand struggle, dollars to doughnuts that's what they're actually talking about."
posted by thivaia at 6:53 AM on August 11 [7 favorites]


Article doesn't even hint at the possibility of digital art. It mentions photography, but all of the examples show drawing/painting/sculpting. (And only a tiny bit of sculpting - no finished works are shown.) It also doesn't hint as art being a potential commercial skill instead of/in addition to a hobby.

It is a nice introdoction to "how to art," but it seems focused on people who have leisure time and money and are looking for an interesting way to apply those. It's weird to see a few paragraphs about "go to art school," which is well beyond the level of "hey I do this on the weekend sometimes," but nothing at all about "look for venues where you could sell your art," which I'd expect to come long before "I'm considering getting a degree in this."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:20 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Article doesn't even hint at the possibility of digital art.
I'm primarily a digital artist (3D modeling/texture painting, some 2D fantasy paintings) and I've learned to sort of gloss over that. Lots of people still think that digital art is "computer generated." But the basic processes of actually doing digital art aren't all that different from analog art. If I'm sculpting in ZBrush, for example, I can find a brush called "thumb" that does basically the same thing you'd expect your thumb to do when using Sculpey. Painting in Photoshop (or Krita, Gimp, ArtRage, ProCreate, Painter, whatever) still requires observation, references, color sense, understanding composition, etc. Essentially, I think of ZBrush or Blender or Photoshop as a medium/skillset to learn. I haven't seen much digital art (yet) where the output is not a 2D or 3D printed representation of something that approximates traditional output. (I'm deliberately ignoring installation art, here, because the focus of the original article is primarily on representational art.) The main issue with digital art is that there's no "original" to sell at Christie's in 100 years unless you limit output to a single copy and destroy the source files. So the art snobs think of digital as only disposable/commercial. I expect fewer and fewer people to care about this as time goes on, though I have seen a rather large number of my favorite digital artists drop digital and switch to traditional painting and sculpting.

But I take your point. In addition to Sculpey and acrylics and brushes they could have probably thrown a bone at digital artists and mentioned Sculptris and Photoshop.
posted by xyzzy at 9:23 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


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