At its heart, design includes a way of thinking about the world that’s based in skills of perception. Writing — admittedly my favorite medium — doesn’t begin to capture how one must think in order to explain ideas. It’s possible for written ideas to lie: we can write false things in our language, as well as things that never were. We can also make pictures that lie — I remember being fascinated by dragon paintings as a child.
But both drawing and writing present us with tools to understand our world. It doesn’t take long to develop the mindset that you can be a good artist with practice — but first you must get over the hump that you believe is the mountain standing in your way: “I am not an artist.”
Which is a dumb thing to say. Are you a teacher? You draw things on the board every day. Your pretense that you are not an artist is getting in the way of your students’ success. Do you make your own worksheets? You’re a graphic designer. Do you make slideshows for your classes? Develop charts and graphs for your kids? Sorry: you are an artist.
It takes 2-3 months of weekly or daily practice for people to admire your sketches. You may never hang your work at MoMA or the Louvre, but you can wow a pre-teen audience with your sketches by next September, if you start today.
And then, when they say, “wow, I didn’t know you were an artist,” you’ll be that much more empowered to waking them up to their birthright as human beings — to be artists.
[…] to middle schoolers, like Latin and history; but now I’m including visual thinking in my portfolio of skills that I try to impart to my students. Hard skills, like learning to draw in 2-point perspective; […]
Andrew, I’ve been thinking about this a lot too. I started my art last September at the age of 41, so people tend to ask a lot of questions about it. And what I hear more often than anything else is “I’m not an artist.” And then I remember that I used to say the same thing and it really does make you wonder if it’s possible for anyone given the right access. I think the real secret is just getting out and doing it, you don’t get more skilled unless you work. Besides if you do something you don’t think is any good, you can always do a new one.
And do it it again, and doing a new one, and trying again, and creating again, is so critical to the process. It’s how you learn what works, what doesn’t, what leads to compliments and what leads to ‘enh’ reactions. Realtime feedback in the process.
But we are