Time Limit: 2 hours
I am a classically trained artist. I went to college and took pretty much every art course that was available to me, but that's not really where I got started with art and I wanted to share with everyone--new artists to DA, artists I haven't met yet, and my friends as well--part of my story, how I got where I am and some of the mistakes I... uh, probably could have avoided.
When I was very young, my parents got divorced. I didn't really understand why at the time, but I accepted it as part of my new norm. What I didn't realize was the stress of bouncing back and forth between homes was building up and I had no good way to release it. I became angry, manic, rapid mood swings all over the place, and fully exploiting my Mom's patience. Looking back, I wish I could smack myself upside the head. My Mom had it pretty rough, being a single parent in a time when single parents were being targeted by schools for "lack of a proper home environment" and every single application asking where her husband or my father was.
My Dad remarried a hellion of a woman and gave me and my brother our two new sisters when I was ten. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my sisters with all my heart, but their mother was a scourge upon all human decency. I ended up raising my sisters and went from child to "Mom" nearly overnight. I can't even begin to count the number of nasty diapers I had to change, nightmares I calmed, or stories I read. No ten year old should ever lose their childhood like that.
And so the stress kept building... until one late night after I'd turned thirteen. My brother and I were with my Mom at this point and I remember watching some commercial on TV showing this new cartoon on Adult Swim. "Sailor Moon" they called it. I'd never seen anything like it. So I stayed up, snuck downstairs and watched my very first episode of Sailor Moon at like... 10 or 11 pm. It was like... the whole world changed in some subtle way.
From that moment on, I drew like a madwoman. I recorded the show on tapes and paused them so I could trace the characters off the tube TV screen (we didn't have much in the way of internet yet keep in mind), borrowed books from the library and drew from those. I devoured any and all drawing guides I could find. From age thirteen to sixteen, I easily went through 40-50 sketchbooks and several reams of computer paper (my drawing paper of choice at the time). Even once I got to college, I drew constantly. In between classes, on my notes, during class (probably shouldn't do that), just... always.
But that's when I hit a problem. Some of my professors, who were only trying to help, wanted me to relearn drawing techniques, to give me more variety than the line-heavy anime style I'd developed up until that point. I do realize they were trying to give me better grounding in more traditional skills, but at the time I just felt... offended. I've gotten over all that now and I sincerely wish I'd taken more of their lessons to heart.
I've come a long way since then. I've developed my own style but I've also retained some of the more classical skills my professors were so desperate to drill into me.
- Build some groundwork. Attend classes in the skill your interested in if you can (doesn't have to be drawing, it could be photography, writing, music, etc.) or watch videos for free. Learn the basics and learn what others have already spent ages figuring out. You have to more or less know the "rules" before you start breaking them in my opinion.
- Practice, practice, practice! Learning a new skill, or bettering an old one, doesn't happen overnight. I've spent two decades practicing and I still have a ton more to learn!
- You never stop learning. There is always room for improvement. Even the most accomplished artists I know are always looking for new things to try or ways to do something better, faster, or in a new way. If you stop learning, you stagnate.
- Never be afraid to break the "rules" of creativity. How else would things like surrealism, techno, or heck even Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the book) come into being? You should always feel free to create what you want in the style you want, even if it might take you a while to figure out what that means to you.
- Be proud that you made something! You did that. You. Not your parent, your sibling, or even Joe down the street. You made that. It could be your first attempt or your 50th, but you did that, and you should be proud. Just starting can be the hardest part.
I'm an artist and I'm encouraging everyone to try something creative. Learn the basics, practice, and be proud with whatever you make. Just start!