It’s a myth that art is hard. Art doesn’t have to be difficult. After all, you’ve probably been holding a pencil for years! But if all you do is a little doodle here and there, you’re probably not going to improve. This doesn’t mean you’re not talented at all or that art is hard. It means artistic talent has to be earned and you’ll need to put effort into it.
Just like professional athletes, they may have had some natural talent in their youth, but then they worked hard to go pro. They ate balanced diets, practiced, and worked out. Professional artists have to put in the same amount of work. (Though luckily there’s no one diet proven to best support artistic endeavors so go ahead and eat what you’d like.)
If you are hoping to become a great artist, you’ll have to distinguish yourself from the pack and that means you’ll need to make yourself a part of the 1%. Not quite sure how to join the elite few? It will take consistency and learning to make it happen and a conscious choice to improve.
Lifelong Learning Is Essential to Become The Best Artist
If you want to be a professional artist, your art will become easier (and better!) when you keep learning and make practice a continual “must” in your life. Don’t get complacent with learning, or think that learning stops when you graduate from school, or get a job. Learning never stops, even for the greatest artists in the world or the oldest people among us.
For instance, committing to getting up early – say, at 5 a.m. every day – to practice your artistry provides an informal way to refine your craft day after day and broaden your creative potential. Individuals who love and embrace learning build practice into their daily routines. Make a schedule that works for you.
But lifelong learning can also mean that you make the commitment to taking art classes throughout your life. The benefits of taking art classes are vast, not only will you continue brushing up on your fundamental skills, but you will have the opportunity to build a community with other artists.
Having other artists in your corner can be great, especially when you’re seeking feedback or assistance with your work. Continuously building your skills can expand your creativity and help you continue to grow. Taking classes in different techniques can expand your mind as well as give you the chance to get honest and constructive feedback. (So you can keep improving!)
Hone Your Artistic Talents
The great Italian painter and sculptor Michelangelo once said, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Persistent, hard work is a necessary ingredient for successful artists, and a logical one, for artistic improvement.
It took countless hours for Michelangelo to reach his level of talent. Understand the long-term benefit of reserving time for your own artistic development. Drawing once a week for a few minutes isn’t going to help you grow. If you are really hoping to hone your talents you need to make an investment in yourself, block out time daily to focus on your art.
The majority of want-to-be artists are full of excuses, and that’s okay. 99% of people are like this. Maybe they only draw a little bit each day. Or they are tired at the end of their workday so they want to relax and binge-watch their latest show. There are so many different excuses to be made, but don’t allow yourself to fall into those easy traps.
Maybe you take your weekends off from drawing? You’ve earned a break after all. But carving out a little time every day for creative experimentation can be easy to work into your schedule. If you find yourself making excuses for your lack of time, you’ll probably never see any real improvement.
Another trap artists find themselves in is they get stuck in a rut drawing limited things. Sure, if you get really great at drawing aliens or pigs it can be a little scary to branch off into learning how to draw other things, but don’t take the easy path, go outside your regular pattern and skills to push yourself.
Learning from your job and life experiences is a good start but it’s not enough if you truly want to grow as an artist. Behind every work of art, there is a lot of hard work that you can’t see. It’s okay to work hard and get feedback on what you can do. Don’t be afraid to have a healthy obsession with art and let that drive you towards further success.
Become the Minority, It’ll Make You Stand Out
There’s a limited 1% of artists who have unlocked the secret to being truly great. They put in the time and effort required to set themselves apart from the fray and be recognized for their talent. Think of the art world as having two doorways: a door for the majority and a door for the elite 1%, it is up to you to decide which door is the best one for you.
The majority of people are going to take the easy way out, the door of 99%. Where you don’t need to push yourself, draw consistently, or even at all. If you aren’t satisfied with mediocrity, you may want to set your sights on the 1% door. It’s not going to be an easy path, there will be many obstacles in your way, but anyone can become a great artist with time.
Drawing is more of a skill than a talent. That means if you make the effort to learn and improve you can consistently get better! Of course, there’s no need to overexert yourself. You don’t want to burn out on your love for art by not taking breaks and drawing 24/7. But you do need to make sure you make time for your art daily to improve.
Small changes can have a big impact on your career as an artist. Try setting your alarm for an hour early to get some free drawing done while you’re fresh and energized rather than waiting until the end of the day. (Or, if you aren’t a morning person, plan to work in the evening before you’re too tired to create.)
Don’t let your geography limit you from the art class you’ve always wanted to take. If your dream class isn’t offered in-person near you, there are many online classes you can sign up for and get the same benefits of learning. (Plus, many are pre-recorded so you can easily work them into your schedule when you have time!)
If you’re trying to figure out the best way to incorporate art into your busy schedule don’t worry! People make time for the things they love. If you love your art you can work it into your daily life with ease. Start small, maybe a half-hour of drawing a day as you begin and as you see improvement you may find even more time in your schedule.
Change Your Mindset To Become a Great Artist in the 1% Club
Some people look at carving out time for continual learning as a chore. “I’m too busy.” “I have two small children.” ”I have too many other commitments.” It’s important to change your mindset about practice time and embrace the value the experience delivers for your skillset.
Look at it this way: Many people have an abundance of artistic skills and talent. But if you want to be a professional artist, you need to step up and nourish your talent with training. Professionals in any field don’t rest on their talented laurels; they keep growing their skills and stimulating their natural talents. Change your mindset that learning means you aren’t good.
You need to believe that you are going to be a great artist. If you don’t believe in yourself first, no one else will either. Some artists need stacks of preliminary sketches and practice paintings in order to create their masterpiece. Some people get lucky with simply the idea in their heads, you will find what works for you, but the important part is that you continue trying.
You may have to make some sacrifices to become elite, but if that is your dream it will be worth it. When you are willing to go the extra mile for your artistic career you may see big dividends and growth in your skillset. Find a great source of inspiration to keep you going and spark your creativity so you don’t lose focus on why you’ve decided to shoot for elite status.
Keep Your Balance
Be sure you always take care of yourself, by getting enough sleep each day for instance, but carve out time for your art every day. Making your creative work a priority by including it in your daily schedule doesn’t mean skimping on other important areas of your life like eating well, exercise, or work/life balance.
Keep your mind and body fresh on your creative journey. The point is to strive for balanced practice, consistently practicing and working at an even pace. You don’t want to push too hard and burn out or sacrifice your well-being. Work at your own pace and be consistent. Work art into your daily schedule in a way that works well for you.
It may not always be easy to find the appropriate balance. Sometimes you’ll be swept away with your own creativity and other days you are going to stare at a blank piece of paper without an ounce of inspiration.
A Final Thought
Art can be easy when you put in the time and work. You can make the choice to work harder and smarter, taking classes, and practicing to be certain that you will continue improving. No matter how great of an artist you are and how far your career has taken off, you need to be sure to keep learning.
Great art education will never stop because you can keep learning from other artists and your life experience forever. Don’t be afraid of failure, there will always be bad drawings and rough drafts before the finished product. Choose the 1% door, keep growing, and see how you can become the best artist possible with effort and consistency.