Podcast 06: Call yourself an artist?

I wrestle with imposter syndrome a lot. And one of the symptoms is a reluctance to refer to myself as “an artist.” A writer, a man, an entrepreneur, a blogger, a fashion model, sure, but not the ‘A’ word.

In this episode of the podcast, I have an in-depth chat with two smart women (my mum and my pal, Amanda) with very different perspectives on this phenomenon. I hope it’s helpful.

Two other minor things:

  • I’m sharing this episode a day early because I’m going out of town for a while.
  • Please subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast app.  And please leave a 😀review.  It means a lot. Not just because I am insecure and crave affirmation but because, you know, the algorithm and all that.

Episode transcript: Continue reading “Podcast 06: Call yourself an artist?”

You are not alone

You need to go way out to a cabin in the woods to write a great novel. You must move up to a garret on the top of floor of a tenement to paint masterpieces. Do not disturb. Genius at work. The myth of the solitary artist, toiling alone, far from the madding crowd. We’ve all heard it. And yet I wonder, is solitude really the key to creativity?

Case in point.

In 1866, Vincent van Gogh left the Netherlands. For three years, he had been trying to teach himself to paint, essentially on his own. He briefly had a mentor who then grew tired and rejected him. He enrolled in an art school but clashed with his teacher for his unorthodox style of painting. Two months later, he quit to move to Paris.

Within 18 months, Van Gogh went from dreary, ham-fisted brown paintings to bright, lively, emotional masterworks that are some of the greatest paintings ever made. What made the difference?

Paris. Or more specifically the community of artists he found in Paris.

For the first time Vincent was exposed to Impressionism, Symbolism, Pointillism, and Japanese woodblock prints. He befriended Pissarro, Signac, Bernard, Seurat, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gauguin. His palette changed. His painting technique changed. His line quality changed. His sense of himself as an artist changed.

When Van Gogh finally found himself in the company of artists, he discovered what being an artist truly meant. He borrowed ideas and discoveries from them. He modified pointillism, he painted with complementary color, he discovered light, and in two years, he made over 200 new, fresh paintings.

Marinating in all those influences, helped him discover a unique and utterly personal approach to painting. By associating with great and generous artists, Van Gogh found himself.

Many of our teachers tell me they love being a part of Sketchbook Skool, because they usually spend so much time working alone. They love to commune with other creative minds, to share ideas, to talk shop, to find new solutions to common problems. Some of them set up shared studios. Others travel to conferences and conventions. Others use social media to share their works in progress and find input and support.

For many beginners, sharing art can seem like a scary business. We fear being judged or seeming to be presumptuous by donning the artist’s mantle. But remember the explosive effect of creative community on Van Gogh. Nothing he’d made before 1886 deserved to end up in a museum. He couldn’t find a single customer for his flat, amber landscapes and dimly-lit, mawkish still lives. But by stepping out, by daring to expose himself and ask to learn from other artists, he was transformed.

You may think you are not a Van Gogh. But have you gone to Paris? Have you taken advantage of the impact a creative community can make?

Speaking of creative communities, this piece was originally written for the Sketchbook Skool Zine.  Didn’t see it in your inbox this morning? Sign up now.

A Zillion Sketchbook Tours

I just uploaded a zillion sketchbook tours from various random points in my library. They’re all on my YouTube channel now and now magically embedded here too.

It’s to celebrate the launch of our new kourse, A Zillion Ways To Fill Your Sketchbook. This kourse is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.  It’s basically an encyclopedic review of what is so freaking amazing about sketchbook art. Trust me, my feeble tours are a mere blip in the firmament of this vast masterwork.  Hope you’ll join us.

Meanwhile, here’re the trailer and a dozen tours.

You’re welcome!

Sketchbook Club: Self-published

Today I shared a bunch of my favorite self published books. I hope they inspire you to make something awesome!  Here are the book I discussed and how to get ’em, for your own library.

And here’s some more info on Illustration Nation, our brand new kourse: