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Try Teaching Yourself Stuff.

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

When I was in school I pretty regularly felt like I got caught in the monotony of projects, stuff I didn't want to learn, methods I could pretty clearly see were ineffective, it was really draining. Not to totally attack the way things are being taught but I think if we generalize teaching art we end up suffocating the creative minds of a lot of really talented people in order to cater to those not as gifted. Which is fine if we remember to challenge those more creative or talented, but schools so often don't. In school I existed on both ends of the spectrum at one time or another, sometimes I was the superstar of a craft or method and other times I was the dunce slowing down the entire process, there's nothing wrong with being either of those characters but professors or those in charge need to remember to challenge both of them. I think I always felt particularly unchallenged in the realm of digital art and that's what I'm going to be discussing today!

I'm not a digital artist, I don't like making digital art, it's not a process for me but I understand its necessity, especially in a modern landscape. I was fortunate enough to recognize that early so I learned the general tools, Adobe and what not, when I was around 15. I didn't master them by any means but I knew my way around the apps, so I constantly found myself frustrated in digital art classes. I would either already know what we were doing or didn't find any merit in the way we were going about things so I would just get frustrated, especially when professors would hit me with a, "nope. You have to do it this way." after I found a more efficient way. Digital art became largely self driven for me, I had to teach it to myself because the basic school framework for teaching it didn't work for me at all, and I don't think it works for a lot of people. But the frustration of classes would often build and kill my drive to learn more on my own, I'd just end up teaching myself around the project at hand, no more no less. I walked away from school far from a digital artist, the few things I did learn gradually slipping out of my brain day by day, it all just felt useless to me.

That brings me to a few weeks ago when I finally broke down and bought the Adobe suite just so I could have it, at the very least it would be a useful tool. Working through the programs at first there was a lot of frustration, I'd either forgotten how to do things or just never learned them at all. So I turned to one of the greatest teaching tools every, Youtube, and suddenly I was tailor making courses for myself to learn what I wanted to learn. Once I'd build out a solid framework I was able to click around more effectively and experiment, figure things out on my own. I was building an understanding around things I wanted to learn and once I had a grip on those I could figure out a lot more on my own, and when I hit a roadblock I could just return to the vast library of free teaching tools out there to get back on track.

Sometimes school took the drive to teach myself and problem solve out of me, I think it happens to a lot of artists. But if these past few weeks have taught me anything, it's to not let that fade. We are our own greatest teaching tools and I think that if we can keep that drive alive, we'll be better artists for it. Sometimes the professor isn't the smartest one in the room, sometimes they preach that their method is gospel when it's not and that tends to hurt the truly creative students more than it helps them. So, sometimes you have to say sorry and just do it your own way, figure it out and make it better. We are our own greatest teachers and once we get out of school we're all we have, so learn the tools that are out there to teach yourself and hone them so that once you're out in the grueling professional world you can tackle new challenges and remain totally self-motivated.

I've included one of my digital paintings as the Image for this article, it's by no means amazing but days before doing this I had virtually no understanding of how to transfer a line drawing that I photographed to Photoshop and color it from there. So at the very least I'm proud of that, and hopefully I can hone this craft further and maybe even inspire you to learn a new craft along the way.

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