5 things about Making Art

AKA what I would tell myself 5 years ago. Ok, I’ve only been doing this thing called ‘artist’ officially a year. There’s still so much I want to do and hopefully, I’ll get there! But if I could go back to art student me a couple of years ago, here’s what I would say:

  1. Just make. Don’t get caught up with the idea of it being the next Mona Lisa. It won’t be a masterpiece and really, it doesn’t need to be. Don’t be afraid of that blank canvas - I know an artist who will make quick brushstrokes on the panel so she won’t be intimidated by the empty, blank panel. Put your head down and get to work.

  2. Experiment. This is a pretty broad piece of advice for a reason. Be willing to try new mediums, new styles, and anything that comes up! Collage was an experiment for me and now I love it! Sometimes I’ll walk around my art supply store and see if there’s anything extra I want to try. A personal example would be right now I’m trying to find a way to get gold leaf back into my work. Guess I’m going to have to experiment!

  3. If something doesn’t work out … don’t throw it out and don’t beat yourself up. Ok, I’m not encouraging you to become a hoarder. But I am encouraging you to use it as a learning experience. I have a few pieces in my studio that are either unfinished or something I wasn’t thrilled with. My view is in a few months, maybe I’ll come back to it and know how to fix it. Inspiration is funny like that. It's all a part of the experimenting process - happy accidents.

  4. Also connected to the last point, take time for your self. Your art will flourish when you feel inspired as opposed to dead tired. Some people can work on artwork for days, weeks, months without stopping. Some get burned out after one piece. You have to find that balance. Coming off of art school and making around 10 projects a semester, I needed a break. I only made one ‘finished’ piece of art the year after I graduated. Even today, some days are dedicated to making art and other days focus on housework/errands. Find what works for you.

  5. Connect with other artists. Who better to understand the creative struggle than other artists? We live in a great day and age where its easy to connect with artists around the world. I love my Instagram art community and I’ve kept up with a good deal of the artists I graduated school with. Today, I have a few trusted people I go to for critique and advice about my work. But I love connecting with artists just to build a community. Most of the artists I know love talking about their process, their thoughts behind their work, and love to answer questions. Reach out and don’t be afraid to ask.

If I’m honest, I still need these pieces of advice. I hope this encourages you! Being a creative individual is a wonderful thing. Now go turn up that music or podcast and get cranking!

Here are some reads that have encouraged me about being a creative:

  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Steal like an Artist and Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

  • Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

  • Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa