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How to Become an Artist

Everyone is able to recognize when there’s an order and a rhythm to art. They may not know how the artist got there. But they know it’s there. And they recognize when it reflects something true or beautiful.

Some even go a step further and learn how the artist got there. They take lessons or teach themselves the techniques, tools, and trade. But when it comes to their ability to create something true or beautiful, they doubt themselves.

How does one go from appreciating art, or replicating art, to creating art?

Percy Shelley, in his essay defending the value of poetry to modern society, argues that “every man in the infancy of art, observes an order which approximates more or less closely to that from which highest delight results”. Shelley terms this the “faculty of approximation”, or the ability to establish a “relation between the highest pleasure and its causes”. Those who possess this faculty “in excess”, or to a greater degree than average, are poets, and their mission is to communicate their experiences to the world.

In other words, anyone can experience something beautiful, but those who create it want to know where it came from so they can find more of it. And it's often in places where no one else is looking.

Think of the difference between a tourist and an explorer. A tourist observes a distant city and says, “wow, what a beautiful skyline!”, but continues on their way. Meanwhile, an explorer decides to get closer and put names to the buildings. They know there's more beauty to the city than most tourists will see, so they journey ahead, photographing all manner of unusual and forgotten places wherever they go. They know their journey won't end, too. Even if they could see the entire city, there's always something new and interesting that wasn't there before. Maybe they'll discover it first.

The key to creating art? Be curious.

It doesn't take a completely original or masterful idea to spark your curiosity. Start with something you already know how to do, and then change a few things until you like what you've changed. Keep changing things until you don't want to change it anymore. Then you've created something.

Everyone is capable of making art. It's not a pretentious endeavor reserved only for those who have special knowledge or talents, nor does it require any perfect conditions. It's simply the focused, meaningful effort of turning your unique way of looking at the world into a craft.

So go ahead. Become an artist. We're here to help you.

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