Unleashing The Humble Artist Inside

Butterfly Hair
By Anahata Katkin

For the most part I don’t really consider myself an artist. I think it’s because I’m jealous that real artists have talent. (Designers have talent too, I suppose. Just a different type of talent, a combinative talent of sorts.)

Which then begs the question, what is the difference between art and design? I’ve entertained this conversation with a few close friends, all of them being artists…none of them designers.

For me, here are three key differentiating factors:

  1. An artist’s work is created for themselves. They consider the audience but their pieces are mainly a form of expression with no real objective of audience resonation. They do what they want. A designer’s work is created for an audience and generally has to be accepted to be seen as successful.
  2. Artists use their hands, and there’s often physical labor involved with creating their art. Most of the designer’s work is cognitive and two-dimensional. Unless they take part in the production process the physical labor of bringing their work to life is generally outsourced.
  3. Artists are more involved in the message. Designers are more involved the form and function in communicating a message.

I personally consider design to be 50% art and 50% science. There is an art to visualization and arrangement, and there is a science to branding, messaging, and client management.

When designers get caught up in the 50% science, it’s important to take a step back to recognize that the other half of what we do is artistic. Unleashing the humble artist inside is difficult and can take months or years of prying and prodding. Some people are uncomfortable with critiques or showing their work to the world.

What I’ve found to be successful at reigniting the artistic spark inside of me is to go find people who are better then me — people I look up to, people whose success I envy, people who ooze creativity in every aspect of their lives. Perhaps it’s the lifetime of responding to negative reinforcement, but for me it works. I create my best work when I am stressed, depressed, and otherwise pressed for time. I think on my feet. My heart bleeds. I cry. It’s amazing.

For example, let’s take Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Invader Zim.

Jhonen Vasquez
Photo Credit - http://biorequiem.com

I’m obsessed with the TV series and watch it religiously on-demand via Netflix. It’s an insanely smart and clever series. I don’t even want to really explain it here because I would do his work injustice, so do yourself a favor and go watch “The Revenge of the Zit Boy” and have a blast. I follow him on Twitter and his ramblings are fascinating…as the ramblings of a true artist usually are. I go to his blog and his extended ramblings all make sense. I can see the artist in the work. What a privilege to have this type of technology available to us today to peek into the minds of true artists. (Could you imagine what Da Vinci’s timeline on Twitter would have looked like? Or what Salvador Dali’s blog would’ve contained?) I read his blogs and peruse his sketches with admiration and slight envy. I wish I could be as bold…but I suppose I’m the only one holding myself back.

4 thoughts on “Unleashing The Humble Artist Inside

    1. I definitely agree that commitment and passion is key to creative artwork. I feel as though some of the artists that I’m come across just don’t take the time to dig deeper. They create what they feel is “good enough” but they don’t push their limits. Some artists, though, create with such fervent passion that it is difficult to imagine them doing anything else!

      “It is the job that is never started that takes the longest to finish.”


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