How to be a perfect artist.

First of all, I suck at writing so dont expect amazing copy.....ever.


I teach art, I have for the better part of 20 years and I am always amazed at how the need to be perfect crushes so many and so early in life! This idea of perfection kills so much of what is good and honest and unique in all of us. Theodore Roosevelt said "comparison is the thief of joy". Not sure where I picked these words up but they have long since reverberated in my mind ....daily. A mantra to remind my self it's me the world hasn't met yet. That my ideas matter and are important.


I grew up scared to be my self, was told to copy art projects step by step and had no idea of who I really wanted to be when I graduated. I spent so much time trying to be someone else's idea of ideal that I had no clue how to be true to my self. My ideas and my identity were lost somewhere caught up in the perfect I was so far from.


The people we surround our selves with either help us find that authenticity that helps us see our own worth, or, they burry us under labels and expectations they place on us. Regardless of where you are in life you are always worthy of love and support. You, my friend, matter.


So here are my ten recommendations to be a "perfect" artist. No I'm not wildly famous (yet) but I have helped a heck of a lot of kids find success.


  1. Art is a language, learn to speak it. Like most languages you learn it slowly. Don't expect to be fluent just because you want to be when you start a new medium. Artists become great after hours and hours of practice and most importantly failure. If your not challenging your self to the point of screw up then your not pushing your self hard enough. Don't quit when it's "good enough" push farther.

  2. Stop copying off Pintrest. Your ideas matter, play with them. Be inspired by others and take it somewhere personal regardless of how emotional it maybe. Good art makes us feel things.

  3. Build an image file of cool stuff. If you are trying to nail the position of something look at references to help you. The human brain is highly fallable and doesn't remember imagery accurately. In the 1990s my walls were full of collaged magazines. I had folders full of buildings and bodies and landscape....back before the internet. Gosh that makes me feel old.


4. Don't try to be a photocopier. Photorealism is a thing, and man it takes talent. However. Where are you and your uniqueness in a photo realistic image of a.....? Art sells because it's different. So be different. Tell a story.


5. Make art for a purpose. Give it meaning, either in processing something in your own life or to tell a story. Symbolism is amazing for this and a major bonus is your mental health will love you for it.


6. Love your failures. The works that don't turn out teach you more than the ones that do, do. Reflect on what happened. Do not rip them out of your sketchbooks, annotate in your sketchbook instead. Keep pushing what you are working on untill you hate it entirely, gained new inisght or fell in love with it. Sometimes you need to say hot damn that's bad and just write a few notes about why. This enhances creative problem solving and observational skills as well as helps push your art vocabulary. Vulnerability is hard but you can do hard things.


7.Talk about your work. Start with someone who gets you. Ask for feed back from someone who doesn't. It's interesting to hear what others take from what we create. You don't have to take it personally the words of others really are just that. Take what you can work with and improve.


8.Love the process rather than the product. The journey is so so important.


9. Step outside your comfort zone. You hear it so many places, do one thing every day that scares you. Last year, I recieved a grant and tried so many new things that terrified me as an artist. Taxidermy, resin, wood working....maybe a few too many things that scared me. However, It was the best year of my life. The right amount of challenge can put you in a beautiful flow state. Flow is like liquid sunshine.


10. Realize every creative struggles. We all start out with a this might be good, that shifts to a this is amazing, then this is shit what was I thinking. The trick is not getting stuck here. Remember what you were thinking and push a little farther.



Everyone wants to be their best. I think what so many loose sight of is no one is their best all the time. Great art things come from screw ups, and to screw up you need to take risks. Let go of the idea of perfection and you will give your self the space and vulnerability to be the best version of you.




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