Friday, March 28, 2014

An Open Letter to Young Artists

Hey you,

I bet that since you were a kid you felt an overwhelming need to draw, to create. Pencils, crayons, color pencils, pens, watercolors, Sharpies, you name it. These were your tools and you loved it.

The internet allowed you to see other people's work, many of them professionals sharing their work on Tumblr or Instagram. You imagined your creative gift as being a way to make a living -- to be a professional artist. Your decision to pursue this goal might have been met with encouragement or with criticism, but you pushed forward regardless because you knew that no matter what this is what you wanted to do.

I bet you follow many of your favorite artists and collected a ton of their work onto a pinterest board for inspiration. But at some point, you started to compare yourself to those artists. You studied their style and technique and followed their instructions. "This is how you become a professional artist" you thought to yourself.

But you felt stuck at one point because maybe you can't afford a new Cintiq. Or your latest work didn't get more likes on Facebook. You looked at your work and it doesn't look anything like those professional artists. And you began to feel bad about yourself. In your heart you felt you're not good enough.

Well, I call bullshit.

Don't idolize and compare yourself to someone else. It's contradictory to your basic nature as an artist. You have a story to tell that is unique. You have a style that is unique. You were put on this planet to explore your own voice and to express it. Want to know another thing? The best part about being an artist is you don't have to be a professional to be one. All you have to do is choose to be one and do the work -- do it because you love it. And if you choose to be a professional artist, there's nothing wrong with that. But keep in mind that a job at a major studio is still a job. Ask a pro. At the end of the day many working artists get laid off. Talent doesn't exclude you from the mundane trials of human life.

Many of the best artists are the ones you've never heard of. They're not on Instagram. They have a unique style, original characters and they work on their own projects. They also know that software doesn't make them better artists, passion and determination does.

So why am I telling you this? Because I feel I was put on this planet to tell you that your story matters. To encourage you to draw your ass off. Create your own characters and tell your stories and collaborate with others. Work hard and be nice to people and I promise that you will go far -- as far as you're willing to go. So don't worry about not having all the fancy tools, just pick up your pencil and get started.

Thanks for reading.

Dennis