Updated: Apr 26
As someone who has been making art all my life, there are some sayings that I come across pretty regularly, that in my opinion are myths and limit people from venturing into any form of art - whether it’s painting or music or writing.
Here are 5 of the biggest art myths I’ve come across:
1. YOU HAVE TO BE BORN WITH TALENT:
This is not just untrue, but can also be offensive to an artist as it belittles the effort they put into their craft. I believe that interest and passion, can, to some extent be in-born, but in order to master an art form, a lot of effort goes behind the scenes. People work incredibly hard to gain the technical skills that make them a good artist. This also makes it harder for people to try out and learn new art forms because they’ve been told all their lives that talent is inborn and you just don’t have it in your genes. Genes can never stop you from being good at something. Unless it’s in your genes to give up and not work hard :)
2. YOU NEED TO QUIT YOUR DAY JOB:
You will hesitate to call yourself a real artist if you’re not doing it full time. The reality is, you are the only one who knows financial situation, and it’s nobody else’s place to tell you to quit your job and follow your passion. You’ve got to pay your bills! Also, it is entirely possible to be passionate about more than one thing. You might actually enjoy your day job and also your art. It is a very personal decision, and one that needs to be taken after much thought and deliberation. Don’t feel pressured by someone else.
3. YOU NEED THE BEST ART SUPPLIES TO BE AN ARTIST:
The best art supplies are the ones you have access to. Let’s face it - art supplies are expensive. When I was growing up, I just could not justify asking my parents to buy me expensive art supplies. (Even though they bought me everything I asked for - I was so fortunate!). Throughout my childhood, I drew on regular printer paper, which was thin and flimsy, but also, it was great for my skill level at the time! It was only when I started making my own money could I justify spending more money on better quality supplies. (which circles back to why point no. 2 is important)
4. COPYING IS CHEATING:
This is a tricky one. There are several different types of copying. Of course, if you copy someone else’s work and pass it off as your own, commercialize it etc., it IS cheating, and is not okay at all. But imagine you start learning to play the guitar. After you’ve learnt the basic chords and scales, the next thing would be to play something by the Beatles, or learn the chords to Wonderwall or to play Hotel California. And nobody calls that cheating! Nobody expects you to create original music and only play that when you’re beginning. Why is it so different for fine art? You will not know the possibilities of a medium or different techniques and styles unless you study and practice what others have already done. It will help you grow much faster than if you pressurize yourself to be “original” from the very beginning. Even professional artists who have been making art for years get inspired by other artists, so don’t worry too much about it.
5. ART NEEDS TO HAVE A HIGHER PURPOSE OR MEANING:
People might tell you that your art needs to make a statement. It needs to have a deeper meaning. “But what are you trying to say with this piece?” And when I go, “Nothing, really” it baffles them. I think how a spectator experiences a piece of art is more about them than the intent of the artist. My reason for painting seascapes can be as shallow as the fact that I love the colour turquoise. But to someone looking at it, it might evoke emotions relating to their experience of going to the beach with their father - which is a beautiful thing! I make art because I love the process of making. I love colours, and I love the meditative nature of moving my brush on a canvas. I love the feeling of having created something. I don’t make art because I want to make a political statement. Someone once told me that my art wouldn’t stand an art school critique. You know what, I’m glad I didn’t go to art school then :)
Hope this was interesting to read. If you’ve come across any other myths related to creating art, do leave it in the comments below.