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How Did I Become A Self Taught Fine Artist?

Becoming a self-taught fine artist can be a rewarding journey filled with self-discovery and creative growth. I once was a corporate HR professional and had a 9 to 5 job. However, I found my ikigai in art. Here are some steps to help you get started on your path:

  1. Set Clear Goals: Determine what kind of fine artist you want to be and set specific goals. Whether it's painting, drawing, sculpture, or any other form of art, having a clear vision will guide your learning process. Also ensure that you have a goal for a retained income while you are on your quest. Six months of pay is not too much to have stashed aside, as your financial success may not be immediate. If this is not possible, there is no harm in retaining your salaried job (if you have one) while exploring your creative side. We don’t want to perpetuate the ‘starving artist’ myth.
  1. Gather Inspiration: Explore the works of other artists you admire. Visit art galleries, museums, and online platforms to gain inspiration and understand different styles and techniques. A very good source is Pinterest and Instagram where now, artists showcase their work and their processes. Youtube will also provide much needed inspiration. Start with the Basics: Begin by learning the fundamentals of art, including drawing techniques, colour theory, composition, and perspective. There are numerous online resources, tutorials, and books available for self-learning.
  1. Practice Regularly: Consistency is key. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to practice your art. The more you practice, the more you'll improve. When I started out on my art journey, I joined several art challenges (like drawing or painting 100 portraits in 100 days) in order to develop and refine my portraiture skills. Several artists create such challenges and the community is a very valuable resource and form of critique. Engaging in art challenges and contests can push your boundaries, help you gain exposure, and build confidence in your abilities.

Self taught artist

  1. Experiment with Different Mediums: Try out various art mediums such as acrylics, oils, pencils, watercolours, charcoal, or digital art. Experimenting will help you discover what you enjoy most and what suits your style. When I got an Ipad, the app Procreate enabled me learn further without the constraints of ‘wasted’ paint or other materials. If you don’t like your digital drawing (or painting), just delete it and start over.

Digital art

  1. Online Courses and Tutorials: Utilise online courses and tutorials to learn specific skills and techniques. There are many platforms like YouTube, Skillshare, Udemy, and Coursera that offer art courses.
  1. Join Art Communities and attend Workshops: Engage with other artists through online forums, social media platforms, and local art groups. I joined the Society for Nigerian Artists and love the community. This was how I had my first group exhibitions, sold work and gained the confidence to continue making art. Sharing your work and receiving feedback can be incredibly helpful for growth. Look for local workshops, art classes, and art events to connect with other artists and learn from professionals in a more immersive setting. My short sojourn at the London Fine Art Studio and at Ateliers Diagonales in Clermont Ferrand France taught me classical and contemporary art skills that are serving me today.
  1. Seek Critiques: Don't be afraid to ask for constructive criticism from more experienced artists. It can be invaluable in identifying areas for improvement. I remember joining the online art community at at a time when I needed anonymous but very effective feedback without the risk of embarrassing myself. This is where a mentor also comes in, who can give you candid feedback on your work. Look for an artist whose work resonates with you and ask to be under his/her tutelage even if only for feedback and direction.
  1. Create a Portfolio: As you progress, build a portfolio showcasing your best works. A portfolio is essential if you want to exhibit or sell your art in the future. You can later consider creating your website either as a gallery or as a complete e-commerce store where collectors can view and buy your work.
  1. Stay Curious and Open-Minded: Embrace experimentation and remain open to learning new things. Art is a continuous learning process, and there's always room for growth.
  1. Stay Persistent and Patient: Becoming a skilled fine artist takes time and dedication. Don't get discouraged by challenges or slow progress. Keep pushing forward and enjoy the journey. At a point, your art will become recognisable and set you apart from others.

Remember, the path of a self-taught artist is flexible and adaptable, so don't be afraid to forge your own way and discover what works best for you. Be open to learning from mistakes and allow yourself to grow as an artist. Enjoy the process, and let your passion for art guide you along the way.

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