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How To Get Into Art As A Non-Traditional Artist

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Despite the fact that I’m going to graduate in less than a year with a fine arts degree, I only recently started considering myself an artist, or even really, good at art. 

My perception of what it means to be an artist has always been skewed. Right from my first art class in elementary school, I was taught that being an artist meant paintbrushes, sketching and drawing. After all, what other definition of art was there? Being good at traditional art mediums meant being good at art, period. Didn’t it? 

I was never good at drawing. I never had the drive to sketch the world or characters or people. Every time I tried, it looked like angry blobs on the paper, and I would put down my sketchbook before I had even filled up five pages. I still struggle today with drawing, and I have come to terms with the fact that it’s just not my thing. Yet I had never even considered that there would be a whole world outside of traditional fine arts to look forward to.

It wasn’t until much later when I started looking at design programs at art universities that I realized that the word ‘art’ didn’t have to follow a traditional purpose or perspective. 

In fact, in today’s world, it’s impossible to categorize art into one simple thing; Painting, film, video editing, 3-D modeling and interior design are just some examples of the many facets of art. Some have nothing to do with the other. Some require completely different skill sets. Yet you cannot simply say that one type of art is more worthy or evident of artistic expression. Each area of expertise may be different, but they all fall under one umbrella category: they require an imagination. 

Imagination can mean so much more than daydreaming about vast worlds or even having a solidified idea in your head. Imagination is about the direction you want to head; what your outcome or general way you want to go with a project. It does not always mean that you have to have anything planned out to a T, but rather follow your instincts and use your understanding of your imagination to create whatever you want. 

When I got started, I didn’t even know that what I was doing was considered a type of art. My best advice to get started is to gravitate towards something that interests you or combine it with something you already like. For example, music, games, etc. Maybe you’ve seen inspiration on social media or in person. Maybe you’ve always had an inkling to try digital art or poster designs. 

Some more advice I have is to accept failure and ‘bad art,’ especially when you’re in the process of trying new things or trying to improve. ‘Bad art’ is not actually a thing, but I know as a hyper-critical thinker when it comes to my own work that your first few attempts will never be perfect. Creating something from your imagination or inspiration onto what is essentially a blank canvas is intimidating as it requires a certain amount of skill and practice, but it’s always achievable if you want it to be. 

Do your best, focus on what interests you, and don’t give up!

Courtney Te is a Graphic Design major and a Psychology minor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is passionate about animals, writing and graphic design.