At 17 I had virtually zero artistic experience beyond highschool doodling, no desire to be an artist, not a clue how to paint, didn’t know what a still-life was, spent most days in the back of class hidden under a mop of hair hoping that no one would see me, and though that was 7 years ago, the Internet was a very different place. My social media presence was a long-ago-deleted myspace filled with angsty punk rock lyrics and musings about whether or not I would ever get a girlfriend.
To say that you have a head start and talent out your ass is a gross understatement. It’s also a recipe for disaster if you keep ‘hating art at school’.
When I showed up to class on my first day at art school, I knew the least of anyone in my class. There were a few kids who got accepted and given full rides for their highschool portfolios. I was in awe of them, they were my gods and goddesses. These guys and girls could decently replicate fucking Michelangelo drawings while I excruciated over the most basic sketch of an egg. These were the prodigies, the geniuses, the talented and the destined — 6 years later and my once idols aren’t doing anything art-related and as much as I’d like to say that shitty hands were dealt, their stories are more predictable. I remember having a conversation with one of them my freshman year that at the time simply impressed me because of how damn good this kid could draw, but in retrospect was quite blatantly the beginning of the end — the stagnation of brilliance. They said: “Have you seen the professor’s drawings? If this is all I have teaching me, it’s pretty clear I have nothing left to learn from this school.”
Don’t let yourself turn into that kid. Push yourself while you’re young by letting others push you. Paint things you don’t want to paint and you’ll understand them. Understand them and you might like them, and if you still don’t? Well shit, you’ve made an educated push forward towards defining who you are as a person and an artist instead of arbitrarily branding yourself a certain way because that’s “how you feel”. Art, well, ehh… fuck art — “making things” is hard. It takes time, work, passion… these are things you know, but much like knowledge about any other facet of life, it advances through challenge. Challenge isn’t a linear scale of difficulty, it’s something filled with variables and even seemingly simple things can feel impossible when unfamiliar or even presented in an unfamiliar manner. That unfamiliar, that unknown — it pushes us. We often “hate” it. I have “hated” certain classes, certain teachers, certain assignments, certain jobs, certain clients… but I have built the skills I’ve obtained thus far and will continue to build them for my entire life, through late-stage obsession, a relentless desire to understand this world that still feels vast and new to me, and battling, beating, and developing new ways to tackle the obstacles of the job — not finding a way out of or around them.
You’re an artist and you feel boxed in?
You can do a lot with a box, don’t throw it away just yet.