10 Things I Wish I'd Known as a Beginner Artist - Don't Make These Mistakes!

Whether you’re just starting out or trying to see where you can improve, I wrote this list to provide an insight into what I wish I would’ve done when starting out with art and how you can learn from my mistakes to help you in your own artistic journey. These are the 10 things I wish I would have known as a beginner artist.




1. PATIENCE


One of the most important things to learn not just in art, but in life, is patience. As an artist, your entire skillset revolves around being patient. Whether it’s with your process, learning and studying, or working with clients as a commission artist, you need the ability to calm down and know that making great art doesn’t usually happen overnight. Think about what patience looks like for you. Take time in your process to appreciate what you’re doing. Be mindful of what you learn and what techniques you use. Don’t try to rush yourself into a certain style or way of drawing. Take your time in what you do and it will pay off.


2. MINDFULLY COMPARE


Comparison is always a double-edged sword. That’s why when you find yourself comparing who you are, your abilities, or your work with someone else, take a step back to be mindful. Make sure you’re comparing for better and not for the worst. Use other people’s work to motivate, teach, or inspire you to do better in your own work, not in a way that puts down your own abilities or makes you feel bad. Remember that everyone’s journey is at different points and realize that most of the time the people or work that you see on social media is just the filtered version of themselves they’re okay with people seeing. You’re probably not going to see the hundreds of works in progress photos or failed attempts that got them to the level you see them present publicly unless that’s something they’re intentional in sharing.


3. FIND COMMUNITY


This is definitely something I still struggled with until recently and a reason I decided to start sharing my work on YouTube. It can be so beneficial to your productivity, creativity, and sanity as an artist if you surround yourself with other people who are actively creating. Reach out to and surround yourself with other artists and creative people, no matter their skill level. I believe everyone can provide a learning opportunity regardless of their skill. I know for me personally, before COVID, I'd link up with some local artist friends I have and we'd host a Drink and Draw where we hangout and all work on drawing something on our own or collaboratively. This is a super fun way to not only network and relax, but also share ideas and get critique from other artists. Whether this means making friends who are artists, networking, joining a class, or a mastermind group, just find other people who motivate you to improve and help to keep you accountable.


4. EMBRACE CRITIQUE


Another way to improve your work is to embrace critique. Embracing critique doesn’t mean that you listen and conform to every critique you get. It’s important as an artist to be mindful of the difference between constructive criticism and just criticism. Think about who you are, what your art is, and what you want it to be. If a critique someone gives you doesn’t help you in your journey to get there, leave it on the cutting room floor. Maybe you can come back to it later.

Just be conscious of picking and choosing which critique you accept. Stay open to new perspectives and viewpoints, as I said before, learn from anyone regardless of their skill level. Everyone has their own valuable perspective influenced by their own visual experiences, so you’re sure to find something you never considered before.


5. LEARN TO LOVE THE PROCESS


If you’re in being an artist for the long haul, you’re going to eventually need to learn how to love the process. This goes tenfold for if you’re looking to make a career in creating. If you don’t love what you do, why are you doing it? If it’s not something you love, you’re doing it for the wrong reason and you’re going to eventually burn out. 90% of your work is going to be the process. That could be the creative process or the process you take to improve to get to a level where you’re happy with your work, but it’s going to account for the majority of what you do, so learn to love it. Don’t work for just the end goal because there’s no guarantee it’ll turn out how you envisioned or how you wanted it to, so be patient and appreciate the journey to get there.


6. EXPAND YOUR WORLDVIEW / VISUAL LIBRARY


One of the most critical skills of a good creator is drawing influence. What are the things you love? What inspires you? What experiences and memories have influenced your work? You can be the best artist, but if you don’t have the lived experience and visual library that adds life to your art, it’s not going to be as good as it could be. Sure, you can think of what a tree looks like and imagine the symbol you associate with it in your head. But if you’ve never seen a tree in person, you can’t comprehend the same level of shape, form, detail, and life that comes from a tree or it’s movements.

A lot of artists have the impression that all of their time should be dedicated to sitting in their room or office drawing away, but a good chunk of the creative process should be going out in the world and expanding not only your experiences but your visual library. This is what will allow you to recreate reality in a way that’s not only convincing but already has emotion behind it, drawn from your own memories. This is where creativity and storytelling come from, so make sure you’re making time to go out in the world and study.





7. PRACTICE EVERY DAY


There is no secret trick that will magically make you a great artist overnight, despite what people trying to sell you stuff online will tell you. You can watch as many YouTube tutorials as you want, read as many books and resources, but until you practice and develop the muscle memory, you won’t be able to see improvement. Practicing every day doesn’t mean you need to create an elaborately finished piece every day. Just a small doodle or sketch is an experience point towards your goal. View your time as an investment, the more you put in now, the better satisfied you’ll be later when you see how much you’ve improved. Don’t be scared to get creative with practice too! A fun challenge I used as a way to get into practicing every day was Ahmed Aldoori’s 100 Heads Challenge, where you draw 10 heads every day for 10 days, so feel free to implement different challenges and ways to push yourself to keep creating. That also ties nicely into the next point;



8. RESTRICT YOURSELF


On the topic of challenges, I’ve found that for me, sometimes the most creativity and growth can come from putting restrictions on yourself. Challenges or restrictions you place on what you create can allow you to come up with new creative solutions to get around them. So don’t be afraid to put limits on your work, especially if you’re out of ideas of what to draw. Drawing prompts or doing challenges can allow you to step out of your comfort zone and explore subjects you may have never drawn otherwise, so why not? You might just find your new favorite thing to draw.


9. POST FOR YOURSELF


Posting your work to social media can be fun and a great way to find community, but remember that not everything you make needs to be posted online. Developing this attitude can lead to you not creating art for the purpose of enjoying it, but creating art for online approval or affirmation. At its worst, this can lead to you creating cheap gimmicky art for social media likes rather than creating art that you enjoy that just so happens to get likes. You’re allowed to keep your work to yourself, remember that.

10. EMBRACE SUCKING


You don’t need to have it all figured out.

If you are a beginner, remember that and embrace it. You’re allowed to suck, you’re allowed to not like your art, you’re allowed to want to improve, don’t put any extra stress on yourself because of where you’re at. As a beginner, you have the least amount of expectations for your work than anyone you’re comparing yourself to, and way less experience. Think back to when you first tried drawing something as a child, you didn’t care what it looked like, you just wanted to draw. Just like as a child, when you’re a beginner, your interests, goals, and who you are isn’t something set in stone, it’s constantly changing and evolving, just like your art. Embrace the spontaneity and the freedom you have in being a beginner.


And that’s it for the 10 things I wish I would’ve known as a beginner. I hope this article is able to help anyone else who is still finding their way as an artist, it sure would’ve helped me. If you liked this article or anything I said resonated with you, feel free to reach out and let me know! I’d love to hear your perspective. Until next time, see ya!


 


"Dexter Komakaru is a freelance illustrator, artist, and multi-media visual creator living in his homeland on ancestral and contemporary territory of the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Delaware, Miami, Peoria, Seneca, Wyandotte, Ojibwe and Cherokee peoples, known as CBUS, OH. He works out of his home studio to improve his craft and one day break free of capitalist and imperialist systems through his lifelong creative work.


With over five years of dedicated experience and study in visual arts and development, he's been able to work with independent clients and organizations nationwide to create stunning projects around art, activism, and accessibility through digital content creation, community organizing, activism, and public speaking."


Dexter Komakaru, DXTROSE - @dxtrose / dxtrose.com



DXTROSE Dexter Komakaru Freelance Illustrator_edited.jpg

Welcome to my world. Thanks for your time. 

Dexter Komakaru (DXTROSE) is a queer artist, creator, and educator, working as a freelancer out of his studio based on North American Indigenous Land known as CBUS, OH.

Currently, he's privately studying to improve his skills while taking on private and commercial clients for illustration and artwork projects. As of 2021, he has also launched his new online store and Creative Coaching offerings to provide 1-on-1 mentorship for aspiring creatives.

 

You can learn more about what I do and what I'm up to here on my site or Instagram, just keep looking. I hope to see you around!

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