The world of art has a lot of mystique about it. People who are not artists imagine those who work in creative careers as emotional, flakey people who choose to pursue artistic careers because of some deep-seated drive. The image of the starving artist working in books illustration, cartoon illustrations, sitting on a park bench, daydreaming for half the day is quite a prevalent one, but not all artists are like that. Here’s a quick look at some common (and false) myths about artists.
Myth 1: Artists are crazy people
Thanks to well-known artists such as Van Gough and Warhol having reputations for being rather weird, many people have the impression that all artists are crazy. They’re willing to starve for their craft, they’re depressed, or they’re alcoholics.
The truth is there are people with mental illnesses and addictions in every industry. Some artists have mental illnesses, but the vast majority of artists are simply talented people doing a job that they enjoy.
Myth 2: You have to study art to be a successful artist
The number of people going to university today is far higher than it was a couple of decades ago, and this means that the average qualification level required for many jobs has increased massively. This is true for art and design as well as other jobs, but an art degree is not a requirement for a job in art.
Thanks to art portfolio sites such as Flickr, Deviant Art, ArtID.com and Behance, it’s possible to attract the attention of employers even if you don’t have a degree. Simply put together a good portfolio and let that speak for itself.
Myth 3: Real artists don’t use computers
Graphic designers have to put up with a lot of snobbery from other artists and the general public. There is a perception that “real” artists use pencils and paper, or paint. Art is whatever you want it to be. Today, many artists work in several mediums, sketching designs on paper and then scanning them and making changes on the PC.
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to have a natural flair for design? They know what colors look good together, they know what shapes attract the eye, and they understand how to evoke an emotional response. It’s almost as if they were born with the skill. But were they?
If you’re not a very good artist or illustrator, it can be tempting to blame that on genetics, to say that you just don’t have a flair for it. However, recent research suggests that art is actually a process rather than something intuitive. You learned to walk, you learned to ride a bike, and you can learn how to make art too.
Artists Are Made, Not Born
The first step to becoming an artist or designer is to make the choice to learn how to create art and illustrations. Some people may learn more quickly than others, but anyone can learn. There are color wheels and color tables to help people learn how to match colors together to create aesthetically pleasing arrangements, and now that computer art packages exist, anyone can create 2D and 3D images through a process of trial and error – if something doesn’t quite work, they can undo it rather than have to scrap the design.
Even drawing and painting can be taught. There are books about human proportions and anatomy, perspectives, and geometry. Once you learn “the rules” if you work slowly and methodically then you can create good art even if you’re not inspired.
Perhaps, as a taught artist, you wouldn’t have the inspiration and the desire to create new or unusual works, but you could create a web page for your home business or a new uniform design for the local sports team. The difference between a natural artist and one that learned the hard way out of necessity is quite simply the desire to create.
To help you solve the dilemma, take a look at this interesting infographic:
The debate about when (or if) it is appropriate to work for free has been raging for many years. First this idea was rised for book illustrators in 2001. Some people believe it is a good way for beginners to raise their portfolio, while others believe that working for free de-values your skills and is never a good idea. Here’s a quick look at some of the pros and cons of working for free:
Reasons to work for free
• Working for free gives you a chance to build up a portfolio of real work, instead of logos and website designs for imaginary companies.
• The byline/image credit that you get will look good on your C.V. and help you get your name out there.
• Working for free is a good way to support your favourite charities.
• You will meet new people and make contacts that could serve you well later in your career.
• Free work might lead to paid work in the future.
• Some non-profit organizations offer conference passes, vouchers and small tokens in return for work that would normally command a proper salary.
Why working for free is a bad idea
• The time you spend working for free could be better spent learning new skills or seeking paid work.
• By doing a job for free you are showing that you don’t value your time or skills. It is unlikely that a company that has used your skills for free will suddenly decide to pay you later.
• The sheer number of people willing to work for free in their spare time drives down the value of professional design work.
• You need to make a living – working for free will take up time that could be spent earning money. Can you afford to do that or will some work suffer? If you end up rushing the free projects then they’ll be low quality and useless for your portfolio.
• Clients that expect people to work for free or for very low pay are often the most difficult to work with.