Can you be an professional artist without formal training?

Can you be an professional artist without formal training?

This question, that I have been asked many times, has echoed in my mind, and I decided to tackle it once and for all.  I believe that many artist have thought about this from time to time, "Did you have formal training as an artist?" The question is innocent enough, yet it often reveals a reality that I, like many others, lack the traditional education associated with my chosen craft. My answer, of course, is a resounding "no," though it comes with a qualifier. You see, I didn't embark on the conventional path of enrolling into art school so that I could refine my skills. Instead, my artistic journey was a series of unexpected turns, and journey of self-discovery and passion.

Charting My Creative Odyssey

In order for you to understand, I must go back the beginning. The dream of becoming an artist was deeply embedded in my heart from a young age, (the alternative in my mind at that age was to become a ballerina) 😊. However, I didn't follow the path of formal art education. Unlike those who immersed themselves in the halls of fine art colleges, (this was not an option for me, as my parents did not have the funds to send me), I found myself in a vocational technical high school, trying to hone my skills as a commercial artist.  When I look back, I thought this was my way to a creative career, given financial realities.

I remember the disheartening narrative that echoed in society - artists struggling to make a living from their craft, with success often coming they’ve left this plane of existence.  Despite my desire to enter the field of fine arts, my family's support and encouragement were directed towards a more practical profession that would ensure a stable income. So, art school was out and secretarial school was in.

The Intersection of Passion and Pragmatism

A journey then began to lead me to the question: Does one truly need formal art education to be an artist? In a world where professions like law and medicine require a structured education, does art follow the same trajectory? So, born from years of contemplation, the answer is a resounding "no."

While I acknowledge the value that formal education can provide in cultivating artistic knowledge, I believe that art is uniquely diverse. Unlike the rigid confines of some careers, the realm of artistic expression is boundless. The brushstrokes on a canvas, the verses of a poem, the melodies of a composition - these are the products of an individual's inner world, shaped by personal experiences and perspectives.

Learning Through Unconventional Avenues

My evolution as an artist has been an amalgamation of self-taught lessons, and curiosity-driven experiments.  I didn't confine myself to the walls of a classroom; instead, my education came from the pages of books, documentaries, and the conversations like minded creators. Through these unconventional avenues, I was able to piece together my own set of techniques and insights. 

From Childhood Dreams to Artistic Entrepreneurship

As I walked the mundane footsteps of life,  I was able to evolved and change in way, that I hadn't anticipated.  Through my journey of self-expression, I found myself painting my own furniture. This was telling me that I had an almost unconscious determination to create. The artistry that once flowed through my sketches and paintings found a new canvas, one that merged form and function.  Doing this allowed me to channel my inner artist, and fuse a forgotten life into these furniture pieces. What started as a personal passion gradually transformed into a budding business. The thrill of transforming mundane objects into works of art fueled my resolve to continue along this artistic path.

The Human Connection through Art

As I delved deeper into the art world, I discovered a profound truth: art is a bridge that connects souls. Whether through digital interactions or in-person encounters, my art resonated with others in ways that transcended mere aesthetics. The subjectivity of art became a very powerful tool, allowing me to touch hearts, evoke emotions, and foster connections. It was in these personal interactions that I realized the true impact of creativity on human lives.

Embracing the Uncharted Path

In a world where formal credentials often define one's competence, I believe my journey stands for finding and speaking my truth of self-belief and determination. While art schools undoubtedly offer valuable lessons and insights, my experience underscores the idea that the artist within can thrive through alternative avenues. The light of creativity burns bright within each of us, and it is our responsibility to nurture and share it with the world.

Looking back to my original question that sparked this introspection, I find myself reaffirming my stance: formal art training is the only was to gain artistic success. It is the dedication and unrelenting pursuit of self-expression, and the willingness to learn from unconventional sources that truly define an artist.

Conclusion: A Canvas Unbounded

In a world often fixated on structured routes and established norms, my artistic journey is a testament to the boundless potential that resides within each of us. The canvas of life is not confined by conventional strokes; it is a blank slate waiting to be painted with the colors of resilience, curiosity, and passion. As I continue to evolve as an artist, I am reminded that creativity has no boundaries - it is a journey of self-discovery, experimentation, and the human spirit.

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