This Article is About
being an artist
creative tasks
own destiny
piece at a time
sense of direction
stage one
present moment
rural area
average person
kindergarten
Being An Artist
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Being An Artist

As I reflect back upon growing up, I never thought that I would grow up to become an Artist. I always thought that I would follow in the typical footsteps of the average person, get a normal 9 to 5 job, and still be living in the small, rural area that I grew up in. However, there were key factors that totally influenced the path I decided to take in life.

Discovery

First and foremost everything starts with you. You are the beholder of your own destiny. Second, you must believe in yourself and whatever purpose you set out to fulfill.

Now at these two stages is where things will be obscure. At stage one, as we grow up, develop, and become our own individual person there were many influences along the way that helped shape us into who we are at this present moment. Different people will have their own opinions about how they feel or believe this process to be so I'll only speak for myself here. I always have had a strong sense of direction in life. Even so, I do make an effort to listen to others, take into account what they're trying to say to me for my benefit, but ultimately I have always had a very strong sense of where I want to be. Because of this, all my life I have managed to somehow steer through a lot of things that could have taken me off course, yet I am at the destination that I had always dreamed of being. Now I never knew that my dream would become tangible. I had to deal with everything one small piece at a time.

My journey into the world of art began in kindergarten. The teacher was showing us how to finger paint, draw, color, and do other creative tasks. As I was working, one of the kids recognized what I was drawing with the finger paint. It was a Transformer! From there they had me draw by request. The class had me drawing everything from chairs to other well-known cartoon characters from the 80s. The teacher and everyone in the class encouraged me to keep on drawing. Gradually, as other people discovered that I could draw, they encouraged me. This is when I encountered the second step.

Believing in yourself

I guess the world cannot stress this fact enough. You must believe in yourself in order to achieve what you desire. When people were telling me as a kid how good I could draw, it took me awhile to believe them. I was a shy kid who lacked self-confidence. How did I overcome my disbelief? It was totally by accident. Everyday I would draw after school in my notebook at home after I finished my homework and had private time for myself. What did I draw? I started out drawing my favorite toys, the Transformers! Now as I remember those times, imitating the character designs from the toy boxes trained me to take notice of perspective, foreshortening, paying attention to values, light, proportions, scale, color, and composition. In months I reached a level of drawing that was unrivaled in elementary school. Perhaps because I was one of the few kids who was working hard at drawing. As other children and adults praised my work, it helped me gain more and more confidence in myself. I finally reached a point, maybe between the ages of 10-12, where I started to really believe in myself. When someone asked me to draw something there was no longer any doubt.

Challenge Yourself

Then came my moment of defeat. I will never forget it. I was 12 years old and relatives had come to town to celebrate the 4th of July. As I was proudly drawing the scene of a living room, my father's niece said, "you think you can draw don't ya." I bet you can't draw a real person." Defiantly, I said, "Yes I can!!!" I had such a big head. I started to draw a person from a fashion magazine, and needless to say, I failed miserably. I was so angry! I was almost crying mad. I made a vow to myself that I would someday get good at drawing people!

From that moment on, I started drawing people in everyday life, pausing the VCR to draw my favorite artists in music videos, drawing artists from their CD covers, etc. I practiced over and over again. As I kept on failing, I began to realize that drawing is much more mental than we realize. Your mind must be free of anything that could disrupt your focus; which is to draw this portrait to the best of your ability. My mind was too immature for the goal I was seeking. I can remember getting headaches from pushing myself too hard.

Finally, I got my breakthrough when I was 13. R. Kelly had just came onto the music scene and he had released the song, "Dedicated." I fell in love with this song. One day I was able to get in the zone. I started drawing a portrait of R. Kelly from his CD cover, and to my surprise it look just like him! When I showed it to people at school, they went crazy with joy. From this moment on I became invincible as I won many art competitions against fellow artists. None of them could draw people as well as I could.

Gradually though I saw myself less and less as an Artist. As I was turning 14, I started to think of what I really want to do with my life. I started leaning towards something business related, then two people close to me kept on trying to convince me to watch some of the latest anime shows that had arrived to America in 1993-94. I was quite reluctant to be watching cartoons at my age! Yet, I always have had an open mind. After this 2 year period of fighting it, my guard was worn down and I finally sat down to watch this anime thing. It blew my mind away. I could not believe this was cartoons doing things that us American deemed taboo! I was sold and my passion was revived. From this moment on I pursued art as I was preparing to start college.

Training

Formal training is especially necessary for those of us who are completely clueless, as was I. Still there are people that have no formal training yet they land the creative job you've been working so hard to get.

The Key lesson here is to learn the Basics and Principles, then never forget about them. Use your skills and knowledge on a regular basis. This will lead to you improving.

I must also add that an extremely important part of your training is to get to know yourself! Once you understand what you like, dislike, your ambitions, etc then it will help you see the direction you want to take in your path. That can be your career, your overall life, hobbies, and so forth. It takes a lot of exploration, self-searching, and time to answer this question for yourself.

You are your own worst enemy.

I must say that at Savannah College of Art & Design 2 older professors instilled this value in me. They were Mrs.Wible and Mr. Kinney. They emphasized that it was crucial in the development of my thesis project because they wanted to develop leaders, not followers who do not have a voice. Since I was inspired to become an Artist because of anime, naturally I wrote a thesis of its nature. I explored the Human Rights Issues in North Korea. My professors thought it was absurd, and strongly opposed me doing it. They said you're not Korean why do this? Why are you exploring such a serious topic with animation? No matter what I didn't let up. Fortunately, for my sake Mr. Kinney had traveled the world, and just returned from a trip to Korea. He was a bit more enlightened than the other professors. Still he too was curious as to why I would pick such a topic. In the end, I still had to change my original story, but thanks to him, I was able to complete my thesis and graduate. I was really disappointed and stressed out over thesis. Originally, I wanted to do a short traditionally animated film, but the Chair of my Thesis Committee pushed me to see the value of Style. Surely, I thought I was a failure. The Chair screened the thesis and it was shown someplace else which I forget, and many people told me that they enjoyed my film because of its style and it was refreshing to see something done in 2D!

Signs of a Master

I'm nowhere near it, but those who perfect the basic skills to a certain level are regarded as Masters. Yet, even this can be exceeded. I guess what you could call someone who goes beyond the level of a Master is a True Master.

A True Master is someone who has developed or follows a Style within notable reason. In other words, this person can see, express, be, and have a presence along the lines of having their own ideology or philosophy. A great example of this in martial arts is Bruce Lee. He was taught a form of martial arts that followed a particular style, and later he developed his own martial art with his own philosophy.

As Artists we must always strive to hone our skills, be totally honest with ourselves, and find our own understanding so that we may awaken a new creation. This journey begins with getting to know yourself.


Street Talk

Justin101  

great article! Wish I was 5 again so I could get a head start

Reply
  about 5 years ago
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