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Submitted on
January 17, 2013


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A Discussion For the Budding Artist

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 5:59 PM
Top Bird

I wanted to write something for all of the younger artists on dA (those who are not yet in college), who are thinking about pursuing art as a major or a career.  I am in no way an expert, but I do have a lot of experience to share, and if you care to hear it, than feel free to read (: And I would love to hear people's thoughts and opinions on some of the ideas I present.

This past semester I have buckled down and have started to really think about art as a career and not just as a pastime anymore.    I think this partially stems from the transition from high school to college.   It's a strange thing being thrown into 'the adult world' and having to think about everything in a whole new light.  For me, I had my mind made up that I wanted to be an artist since I could conceive the concept of having a job.   I had never swayed in that decision until I was faced with the reality of the art world.  It is a CRUEL, COMPETITIVE, CHALLENGING, TIME-CONSUMING industry.  There is no sugar coating it, there are very few exceptions.   And for me, the idea of joining that world was a scary one.  A BFA is not a safety net.  It is not a law degree, a business degree, or a computational media degree that will gaurantee financial stability after college.  An art degree is a gamble.  And it is a gamble that I am taking right now....And it scares the living daylights out of me.  
I want to succeed.  I am driven to succeed.  OH PLEASE LET ME NOT BE MAKING THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE :P Haha

Anyway, I have built up a pretty good business for myself (online and offline) and that is really what gave me the confidence to continue with my passion and try to make it my livelihood.

And all of these muddled thoughts that have been bouncing around my head have really had me thinking this past week:  What has lead me to this point?  What advice can I contribute to dA's younger population to encourage them to stay committed to their dreams and pursue art as I have chosen to?

There are  key components to succeeding in this challenging business.  I will bring up what I feel is essential if you are truly thinking about pursuing art in college.

I cannot stress this enough.  If you are not a person who can commit to the time it takes to succeed in the art world, let it go.  Do it on the side.  It is not the career for you.  In my first semester of college I had 1 studio art class.  That class was about 90% of my workload for first semester.  I contributed over 20 hours a week to that class (sometimes more).  Over Thanksgiving Break, I worked 12 hour days, every day for the final project in the class.  All of that time and work paid off :)  Thankfully I received an A+ in the class (the teacher later emailed me and said that she rarely gave out A's).  
I do not say all of this to brag and gloat.  I say this as advice.   Start preparing NOW!  
In middle school and high school, I worked on art every single day.  I was that kid scribbling in my notebook instead of listening to the math teacher :P (btw, not encouraging that ;)).  
You should work AT LEAST an hour a day to improve.  Right now, I average 4-6 hours a day working on art (mostly commissions and college work, but I also allow time to work on other exercises).  This is how I make my money....Luckily it is enough so that I do not need a job on the side; however, it would be nowhere near enough to support myself if my parents were not paying for my education.
Get my point?  Art is time consuming.  That is the most important lesson any budding artist can learn :)

I cannot even begin to tell you how much it irks me to see young artists trying to find 'their style' when they have not even yet mastered the basics.  Before you can stylize something, it is ESSENTIAL that you know how to draw realistically.  Once you have mastered the principles of art and design (line, shape, form, color, texture, value, ect.) then you can use those tools to create whatever art you desire.  
The problem with learning a 'style' first- such as anime, for instance- is that it is very hard to learn how to draw realistically once you have programmed that 'style' in your head.  And with no concept with how things look naturally, it is very hard to create original work.  Many artists who start off drawing in a 'style' before they have mastered the basics, end up drawing 'copycat work' because they do not understand how to draw an original idea and then translate it to their 'style'.  It is also very difficult to create believable work if one does not understand the underlying properties that make the style work.
Before I began drawing 'sparkle wolves' and shiny animals and things, I took many many art classes.  X.X  I was the youngest person taking a figure drawing class at my local art center.  Picture an 11 year old studying the nude bodies of live men and women.  That was me.  I also took many introductory drawing classes.
Before I was enrolled in classes, I taught myself.  I read books, printed out reference material, and set up still lives in my house to draw.
My advice to all the budding artists out there:
Do everything in your power to draw from life! Whether that means taking classes or setting up still lives for yourselves: DO IT!  It will be immensely beneficial.  Draw the same thing 20 times, 20 different ways. I remember once I was on a class field trip.  The entire bus ride I spent drawing my left hand over and over again XD.

This may seem redundant...but you cannot succeed in the art world unless you commit with all your heart.   As I have already stated, it takes more time than you may be able to fathom to make art work as a major in college and as a career.  
What are steps you can take to commit (besides practicing everyday and learning the basics)?
- Take art classes in highschool. Once you are finished taking basic classes, take higher level classes.  If your school offers IB or AP classes TAKE THOSE.  Do everything in your power to get fives on your AP portfolios.
-Offer commissions.  The best way to gain experience in becoming part of the art world is to become part of the art world :giggle:  Start off with low prices.  Learn how to be an honest salesperson and work with clients.  Whether you are working for a few points or a few dolars- this is very good experience.   I have learned so much through offering commissions.  I have definitely made my mistakes and have had to deal with upset clients, but it has taught me so much
-Make art your major!  And it call comes down to this.  If you truly are passionate about art and have the drive to make it your career- major in it.  It does no good in the art world to choose it as a minor.  Majoring in art will give you the experience you need to be able to make it a career...

Anyway,   I know that was a lot.  I just felt like sharing some of my thoughts.  If anyone has questions or other points to bring up, feel free to do so.  I am in a thoughtful mood.

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Aquadragoness Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This was very interesting to read. Thank you!
I'm in middle school, and although I'm not taking art this year, I think I'll choose to take art next year. The only problem is that I also want to take a language and I'm in the school orchestra...
I started out just drawing stuff stylized, but I've come to realize that I need to learn how to draw realistically first. Besides the fact that shaping realistic art into stylized art will let you see how the style works, it would be nice to know how to draw something realistically if someone wants you to draw them something realistically, but be able to draw something in another style if they want it stylized!
The leap from stylized to realistic is rather big for me though. I never learned how to draw using framework of any kind, and whenever I try to draw from life I end up being extra picky and angry with myself because it doesn't look EXACTLY like the real thing (which it never will, but I can't seem to tell myself that).
Do you have any tips on learning how to draw from life, using framework? 
Thank you so much <3
tumblebunny Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013
I am so torn between what I would like to do with my life. Of course, I definitely have a lot of time before college, but I like to plan things ahead. On one side, I think art is awesome. I love drawing everyday. (Granted I only REALLY enjoy drawing wolves) I think it would be an awesome job to have. However, I am aware of the risks of becoming one, too. On the other hand, I've always been really fascinated by animals and science in general. For the first 10 years of my life, Animal Planet was my favorite channel. I also love watching Nat Geo, etc. Being a biologist, zoologist, geneticist, or a neurologist sound exciting, but I worry that I may be bored with the work, even though I like the general topic. I need help :(
silverphoenix07 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I honestly love art and love making art, but I'm not sure if that's what I want to be doing as a job. Like you said, it's a gamble. . . and what if I lose? I'm thinking I'll major is something that is less of a gamble and do art as a minor. What do you think?
awaicu Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, thank you so much for writing this! Your advice is extremely helpful even for someone like me who is currently perusing a major in animal science and later veterinary medicine. I wish you luck on your journey as an artist! I have a lot of admiration for your commitment to it as well as your already amazing work which I am sure will become even more amazing in the future! Again thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and learnings! It was quite an honor being able to read them!
Lucky978 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Student General Artist
I'm so glad you enjoyed it :D
Good luck in your major! I had briefly considered veterinary school.
awaicu Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you! And to you as well!
Deathwisher3228 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013
This brought a lot of realization to my mind. I recently just finished my first semester of college as an art student and have just started 2nd semester and it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I joined the art community here which meant my first semester was full of art classes. One being a Foundation Design class where you learn the core concepts of design. It sounded so boring because design has never been an interest of mine. But really it was about finding ways to show the elements of design such as space, proportion, value, emphasis, etc. While the class was difficult and frustrating at times, it DID push our creative sides because the majority of our work (excluding the final) had to be non-objective. Our teacher said he doesn't want to be able to recognize what are art was of so it had to be abstract. I do think I did some good work in that class but definitely not the best. Than we took a Basic Drawing 101 class where all we do is draw from still life. That was much more exciting. I love realistic art opposed to abstract. Yet I was still getting frustrated because he kept giving me B's in the class. I was trying my best but for some reason I just never broke that B barrier. I have followed through and are continuing to take art classes but I'm starting to feel like it's not a good career for me. I don't have that passion that a lot of other people do. I like to draw but not all hours of the day, especially with homework from other general classes. I do think if there were more art classes in my high school that I'd be better in college, but I came from a small country school that had K-12 all in one building and the majority of classes were agricultural and farming based. So art had a very small choice of classes. Basically just Art 1 and Art 2 and an Art 3 if you took Art one early enough to fit all 3. Recently over christmas break I actually had a "college-life crisis" as I like to call it, where I started to doubt majoring in art. I couldn't see myself with a future degree in art because well it's a challenging market to get into. Eventually I told myself that after purchasing all the art supplies we needed for that first semester that I really can't afford to switch majors. I'm hoping to get better at it as I continue classes but I'm thinking about minoring in English just give myself something to fall back on I guess. Although originally I took art because I wanted to better my skills as really I just want to be a tattoo artist but I just don't think it's going to happen. I don't know I guess this whole thing has made me realize that art really isn't my passion but I've already put in so much that it's hard to just drop it.

Sorry this is so long, it's just this is all that's been going through my mind lately and finally I saw this journal where I could share my perspective on the topic.
MrFuzzyPandaz Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Student General Artist
Every single word you just typed is the same way im feeling. :c i wish you luck.i wish i could have beeen into art at an early age.Now i feel like im running out of time.
Deathwisher3228 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013
Thanks. Yea, I mean I did draw when I was younger but it just doesn't come as easily to me now. Like she said in the journal, it does take practice everyday and I didn't do that, I rarely draw outside of my classes and it had quite the effect on my skills. So if you wish to continue pursuing art, keep practicing otherwise you'll end up like me.

As for the time thing, well by the end of this semester I'll have wasted my first year, because next year I'm planning on switching majors, so I'll probably just be in college an extra year. So really time's not an extreme issue, because you can stay as long as you need to.
MrFuzzyPandaz Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013  Student General Artist
i didn't start seriously drawing until my third year of high school when i finally could take art class and Photoshop.I will keep practicing and get better :3
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