What next?

Summer 09: Drawing in Enterprise, ORDanny:

I love to draw. I am happiest when I am drawing. There is a peacefulness.
I have a blog that I began almost literally at the same moment that I started to draw: Up and Down Town
I have no art training whatsoever.
What advice would you give someone who loves to do this? To go to school and study illustration, or to keep on keeping on?


Dear Jennifer:

I love to draw too. And the only training I’ve gotten is by filling lots of books with drawing and looking long and hard at the art of people whose work I like.
Because I like drawing, I draw. On occasion, I have been asked and paid to draw something. It’s a lot less fun than drawing whatever whenever I like. It’s fun getting checks and it’s fun seeing my work in print. But not nearly as much fun as drawing. (well, unless the checks are stupendous but for most illustrators, they rarely are).
I have met quite a lot of people who like to draw and then went to school to study art and, by and large, school did not do much to make them love art more. Sure, they got to draw or paint all day, but they also became a lot more anxious and self-critical and overly-intellectual, and eventually lost a lot of the spirit that drive them to art school in the first place. Ironically, they invite me to schools to remind illustration students of how much drawing can be.
Now of course I know nothing about you or what else you love to do or have considered studying, but I would say that if you have to ask me whether you should go to school to study illustration, then no, you probably shouldn’t. If you felt there was a lot to learn about drawing that you couldn’t get without paying a school to teach you, then, you’d probably have applied already. But if you just love to draw and want to try more and more ways to do it, then get some books from the library, take a few life-drawing classes, go out sketching buildings and zoos and the like with your friends, and see where it leads you. You are already sharing your work on the web so chances are, if it is to be, you will develop a following and eventually someone will offer to pay you to draw them something. See how that makes you feel. See how it makes you feel the tenth time. See how many times you have to do it before you have paid off your student loans.
I hope I’m not disappointing you with my advice. The fact is you are enormously lucky to have discovered that you love to draw. However, liking drawing and making a profession of it are two very different things. I like to cook but I don’t feel the need to work in a restaurant kitchen. I like to drive, but I ‘m not getting my taxi or trucking license. I like to walk, to breathe, to take naps,listen to music, and read books, but I am perfectly able to advance in those disciplines without professional help.
Now, this is all of course, my own very particular POV, but then you did ask me what I think. Perhaps you should ask people who have a bit more experience with studying art in school and what they say.
I hope this has been helpful to you, Jennifer. Please keep drawing, whatever you decided to do.

Your pal,


Because you don’t know me, you can’t have anticipated that I would love your response, so I will tip you off – I loved it. Thank you. Not only did I love your response, but I also really really appreciated that you took the time to write it. I did approach a few academic advisers before writing to you, and of course they were going to recommend a program for me (shock, I know). I suppose I love your response because it was what I already knew. (Everyone sounds smart when they sound like me.)
I’ve been paid to write and to edit. That is easy, but not fun. As much as I like to nap, I have absolutely never desired a career in this field – my husband, on the other hand, would faint in rapture at the mere thought.
I don’t need stupendous checks. I will explore my own drawing some more, and see what happens.
And thank you again. Very much.


4 thoughts on “What next?”

  1. Very interesting post, I like that you share your "letters" like this 🙂 Being an Art student myself, I can affirm that if you like to draw.. it's not enough to engage in visual art studies. But if you like to draw, paint, make collages(this is me, you can also enjoy sculpture and ceramic and other things too) and understand what's in the artist mind when he/she creates, then do to art school. Of course there are a few technical classes to help you get better, and i'm certain that it changes from a school to the other, but you also learn about art history and how to relate and create with this knowledge, among others. You learn to get conceptual, but you can also avoid it for the most part. I love making nice things, and i can't intellectualize much about my art so i often will improvise a concept and it'll work. But I also think that going to art school makes me step out of my comfort zone and try different techniques that i would have never thought about. And if anyone asks, I don't think it's easier than anything else. Maybe I don't study as much but it sure ain't easy being ask every two weeks or more to have original and unheardof project ideas, and realizing them. Anyway, lovely post as always


  2. Thanks you, Danny and Jennifer.
    With this post, you answered a completely different question for me but it fits quite perfectly, thank you.
    More power to you both and to all the other brave, creative souls out there!


  3. Hi Danny, I’m Marisol Covelo, from Spain (Europe)
    That letter also might have been for me, I also love to draw, sometimes I have to attend classes in drawing, but most of the time I have not taken classes in drawing, I learned from reading books and watching other people draw.
    Some friends have told me I have to display or sell my drawings, but for now I do not want, I just want to enjoy drawing. Drawing makes me happy.
    I invite you to visit my blog: http://elrincondebohemia.blogspot.com/ and if you have a moment please give me your opinion. Thank you very much.


  4. I have wanted to paint and draw for years, and have never made any headway at all. I have never had a lesson in my life but felt that I “should” be able to create something that I would be proud of, or atleast like a little, and dabbled in everything I could lay my hands on. I now live in France and thought my artistic days were about to blossom.

    Not so, that was until I received your book The Creative License a couple of days ago which I ordered through Amazon, on impulse. I have now found the “key” which I had lost or possibly never had in the first place. This for me is the negative spaces aspect of drawing, my brain has accepted it without hesitation and I now cannot stop drawing my lunch, my feet in fact everything. I have even gone as far as starting a journal which had been give to me for this purpose 3 years ago but has been sitting in my cupboard.

    So thank you so much. Soon my friends will be sick of my raving away about my new found confidence, but you never know you may sell even more books through my new found enthusiasm. Gay.


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