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HOW TO BE AN ARTIST - advice to a young artist

Make Art

Every day. Even just a little sketch

Know what’s going on in your heart

Expressed emotion makes stronger art. But usually it’s better if it isn’t too literal, rather subtle and readable in different ways, to fascinate and make people imagine...

Know what’s going on in the world

If you’re not paying attention, you won’t have much to contribute. Listen to NPR or BBC news or watch documentaries on public television. Everything is connected and it’s the artist’s job to help people see that. Be outraged, be stunned, be sorrowful, be engaged, be delighted.

Study the work of other artists.

Those you like, and those you don’t. Get art books about famous artists from the library. Take it beyond like and dislike to: how did they do that? Why did they use those colors, that texture, that composition? What do they want me to notice, to feel? How did they succeed?

Do life drawing

If you can’t get a model, draw people where they are: in a cafe, at the pool, dancing, watching tv. Quick sketches and detailed drawings. Pay particular attention to where the bones are, how the flesh rests and pulls on the skeleton, including on the face.

Do still life drawing

Practice looking. Drawing is 90% looking. Don’t assume you know what a cup or a shoe or an apple looks like. Be surprised. Don’t bother drawing anything from a photo - the point is to translate from the world to your page or canvas, via YOUR eye and YOUR mind and YOUR hand.

Talk to everyone

Ask them about themselves and tell them you’re an artist. Speak loudly and clearly, don’t rush your words. Speak in public. Cultivate a network. Be visible. Ask for help getting what/where you need and ask for things - even ask for a discount on entering for a show.

Hold your head up

Take yourself seriously. You have as much right to your footprint on our planet as anyone else at all.


Live sketch of baseball players

Make Art

Every day. Even just a little sketch.

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