If I ever get my hands on whoever is still spreading this rumor that you need a degree to go pro at anything (well, short of a medical or law professional) it ain't going to be pretty.
But, this week's question is specifically about whether you need a degree to become a professional artist.
The short answer is NO. You don't even need a certificate from the art department of a tech school.
Now that's out of the way, let's get into the more relevant question, and the long answer.
What Do You Need to Be a Pro Artist?
First, you need to create at a pro level.
1. Vision. There must be something you want to create.
2. Passion. You must really care about creating that vision well. It shows in the final version.
3. Education. This does not have to be a degree in the arts. It could be self-study and careful observation, it could be online classes, it could be weekend or adult education classes, but you need some way of learning the rules of your media so you can work well with it.
4. Practice. You need a lot of hours of practice before you're going to be able to create your vision well.
5. Persistence. Also known as grit, determination, stick-to-it-iveness, and stubbornness. It's hard to master anything, and if you're going pro, you need to be a master of your own style.
Second, you need your own style. A lot of amateurs simply crib pro work and expect to somehow gain a following and get rich and respected or whatever it is they want. But that attitude keeps them locked in at amateur level, being poor, watered down imitations of real artists.
It's fine to copy pro work to learn from it, it's even okay to trace to get familiar with proportions and perspective and other tricky bits. But personally I'd never attempt to sell something like that.
As the saying goes, why be a poor imitation of someone else when you could be a great you?
Honing your own style involves a lot of feeling around in the dark, figuring out what works for you, trying things you don't necessarily enjoy fiddling with (for me it's machinery... I like organic lines), and taking constructive criticism and learning from your mistakes and getting back up to try again.
You need to know the rules, and why they exist, and then you'll know when breaking a rule makes a piece stronger. Picasso is known for his abstract art, but he was trained in realism and he has some excellent realistic portraits and drawings in his early work.
By the way, drawing from life is the way to go if you're interested in drawing any style. The practice will help you draw gestures that aren't stiff, shadows that look possible, plants, animals, objects, rooms, everything. You need to train your eyes and your mind to see and perceive the lines and shapes that you can put on paper.
There's more, but I guess I'm putting that in another post later. Comment below with questions and any specifics you want me to address!
Electric City ComiCon Next Saturday!!!!
P.S. Don't forget, I will be in Anderson at the Electric City ComiCon next Saturday with my friend Shandra Kroger of Lightning Prophetess, from 1:00 to 5:00. It's going to be a great event at the Anderson County Main Library. At 4:30, there will be a Cosplay Contest, so I will be bringing the Cosplayer Care Kit, filled with sewing supplies, safety pins, bobby pins, tape, glue, and more, AND I will have facepaint touch-up available. Harley Quinns and Jokers take note! I know that white makeup is tough to maintain!
NOTE: Purchased costumes are ineligible for contestants over age 13, and of course this is a family-friendly event, so you might want to err on the side of modesty with your costume if you think it might be iffy.
In addition, I will have Steampunk Goggles, Vixies Original Art, masquerade masks, Steampunk embellished hats, hand-crocheted fingerless gloves, my Abstract Fairy Tale Art, and more! I'm lookig forward to seeing you there!
I'm back from MonsterCon, and I met some of the most awesome people! I'm so glad I got the chance to talk to you all and find out what's really on your minds. I brought the Cosplayer Care Kit, and a couple of cosplayers did find me and get some safety pins, but I was pretty far back in a dead-end aisle, so if you looked for me and couldn't find me, I'm sorry!
If you were there, regardless of whether you found me or not, I hope you had a great time. I didn't get out much beyond my own booth, but the vendors near me had the most amazing stuff! Shout out to Cat's Eye with the Noodle Kittens books and collectible toys and memorabilia, the guy across from me with the wooden Keyblades, swords, shields, and customizable clocks, and the one right beside me I didn't see much because of the solid wall but who had the fantastic silver jewelry trees! And let's not forget Richard's Comics & Collectibles, where I picked up some comics for Gamer Guy.
In any case, I survived, and I wanted to celebrate by giving away one of my original mini art Vixies (mounted to a magnet so it's easy to hang and hard to lose). So everyone who is subscribed to my newsletter is entered in the giveaway, unless you send me a note saying to take you out of the contest. People who are related to me are also disqualified. (Sorry, Mama!)
If you aren't subscribed and you'd like to enter, subscribe by Friday and I'll make sure you get in. Also! A couple of people who wrote down their emails to subscribe and enter at MonsterCon this past weekend are not entered. Two emails bounced and one was illegible. So if you are reading this and you signed up but have not gotten an email from OtherRealm Studio yet, check your spam filter and if it isn't there either, sign up for the newsletter with the button in the middle of the home page. It's a double opt-in, so you'll get an email back with a link to confirm your subscription.
Now, if you are reading this trying to figure out why you are subscribed when you did not subscribe, I swear it's an honest mistake and I don't spam people or buy lists of emails. Just hit the unsubscribe button at the bottom of your email and MailChimp will take care of it.
Electric City Comicon (EC3)
I'm gearing up for the inaugural Electric City ComiCon - aka EC3 - at the Anderson County Main Library August 8th, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. I'm so excited and I hope to see some of you there. I expect to do lots of facepainting - this con is to promote literacy and introduce newbies to fandom, so I expect more of a fair atmosphere. South Carolina isn't quite used to comic cons, but we're excited to try them out! ;) What we do know all about around here are fairs, and we put on a good fair for any reason at all.
Upcoming - Do You Need a Degree to be an Artist?
Next on the blog, I'm answering your questions and hearing your point of view. Tune in Saturday for my next post on what it really takes to be a successful pro artist.
Other questions? Comment below!
Artist, writer, creator of stuff. I just want to build worlds for you to escape to.