You’re Not a Real Artist…and Other Myths You Need to Ignore: The Art Elite Strikes Again!

One thing I always notice in different art groups and posts that I find on social media is that there are a LOT of people who will say they have struggled to call themselves artists. Sometimes you stop and wonder why on Earth this would be an issue, but unfortunately I already know why it is a problem. In many of the groups and on posts you will see so-called members of the “Art Elite” that are very vocal about what they consider art to be, what they consider criteria for being an artist, and who they think can or cannot be an artist. If you’ve ever run into one of these post threads with the back and forth it really isn’t nice, and it certainly isn’t inspiring.

What makes an artist?

The truth is that I didn’t even call myself an artist until long after I was one. I was also under the mistaken impression that someone else had the authority or talent to dub me an artist. There isn’t any magical time that you really become an artist, and you are an artist if you feel that you are. Okay, you may not be an artist that sells anything…you may not be any good at your art, but that doesn’t make you NOT an artist. As odd as that sounds, it is the total truth on that matter. People are allowed to be shitty artists.

Some of the “Elite” also seem to think that in order to really be an artist you have to have gone to some sort of official art school. The first artists often didn’t go to a formal school. Some people may have had apprenticeships and whatnot, but the confines of a school is not where any REAL art is made. Anyone who tells you any different just has a chip on their shoulder. I won’t say that school is a waste though. I like schools and the idea of them. I enjoy the search for knowledge when there is a technique or something like that to be taught. I appreciate the allowance of a school to find some of the info out, but it isn’t the only way. You can have school yourself essentially. You can find, research, teach, and practice all on your own. The “Elite” may say that isn’t possible, but it really is. That much dedication to any one thing surely should count as an education.

Another fun myth is that you have to be suffering or struggling to be an artist. There is a line here of stupid. I talked in one of my previous posts that the starving artist is an idiot. I stand by this. I think that it is great to have a full time job making art, and most of us would prefer it. I also KNOW that it is not entirely smart thinking. People have to recognize that they aren’t going to be famous instantly and sometimes never. The greater portion of artists don’t reach any real level of fame. Can you make a decent living? Sure, if you’re willing to put in the work to get there.

Most struggling artists can't buy even this amount of equipment...but it could go a lot farther if they didn't have such a mess!

Since this is one of my biggest pet peeves I will talk about it a few minutes longer. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that any of your strife from living is the fault of your friends, family, or patrons. I have literally seen everything in this area. Yeah, you own all kinds of art equipment, camera equipment, and frequently take trips but you can’t afford your MONTHLY website payment! Grow up and find a job that guarantees you money to pay these things…or just leave the art world entirely. I can’t say that I think you are deserving of any praise. I own lots of art equipment too, but I don’t ask anyone to give anything to me. Every bit of the equipment and photography equipment and the trips I take are paid for because I work my ass off at my other job, just to go into my studio that I pay for and work my ass off there too! I make what I am passionate about, whether I am making sales or not…but I can do that because I’m not looking for someone else to finance me.

You shouldn’t be online making posts asking your patrons and peers to donate to you because this month you can’t make your bill payments. You definitely shouldn’t be that tacky after they know how much money they have sunk into your work…and after they have watched you spend it all on trips and additions to your house. Then when they tell you that they are in a rough spot too you openly shun them about their attitude openly on social media. Then you withhold new work because you feel people aren’t as invested in you as you need for them to be. Way to be a tacky asshole. So, yeah we all have financial troubles…but you have the power to find another job or try different methods if you aren’t able to make your personal bills, suck it up.

Who got bills? We ALL do!!!!

Now that we have gone there we can move on. People think that you only teach art if you weren’t good enough to make it. That is a complete myth. Teaching is hard. Doesn’t matter what the subject is. Teaching is not always rewarding, it can be exhausting, it can be painful, and it is one of the hardest and LEAST SELFISH things you can do. That being said, I know a LOT of wonderful artists (some of my favorites) that teach and aren’t trying to sell art. When I was in junior high one of my favorite people was my art teacher. She became like family to me, and I still miss her to this day. The funniest thing about her teaching is that I didn’t even realize that I was being taught about art…or about life. She was one of my biggest supporters and inspirations in my artistic development, and one of the main reasons that I offer classes in art. So, you literally CAN be amazing in art AND teach.

On the flip side people also think that if you don’t know everything then you are a crappy artist. That isn’t true either. I find that people are generally experts in the things that they like. So, if someone comes up to you and asks you about molecular physics you may be like, “Why the hell would I know?” However, if they are like, “Hey! How did you get your watercolor painting to be shiny?” You may be inclined to launch into an in depth illustration of how to do it with separated steps and tips. Sometimes your biggest strength will be your ability and willingness to learn. That’s okay. Even I have things in the “arting” world that I am not good at. Does that mean I won’t try? No. Does it mean I can’t ever learn it? Again, No. Maybe I just can’t quite get down with pouring (which I can’t…I really suck at it) but I won’t shit all over those who can.

Doesn't this guy look like he's just JUDGING YOU? Hahaha!

There are lots of other things that people say in order to discourage you in your “arting” journey. You really can’t let it get to you. I am telling you now that the most important thing you can do is to keep developing you. People are often haunted by the ghosts of their own failures, and that is where a great deal of the myths and the “Art Elite” gain their power from. You shouldn’t feed into any of that because you will be missing out on all of the awesome things that you can create. You will be missing out on a lot of the awesome things that you can learn…and that you can teach. I just advise you to live more in the moment.

Just try….and you will live to Art another day! Would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below!

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