The Path to Finding Your Art

Many young or slow practicing artists really struggle with finding the kind of art that they desire.  The thing you realize after many paintings are made, your artistic struggle actually shifts. Usually when you are younger, your main goal is replicating the things you think are cool. After realizing how hard it is to actually redraw the art that you love, your new focus is precision. Your practicing the same lines and patterns enough that your hand is strong enough to easily create what you find naturally interesting. I think for many artists, this is one of the most fun times. One key aspect of this mindset is that you are not even remotely worried about making money from your art. You want to impress yourself first, your parents, friends, and close inspirations.

From here, you become more curious of what you are capable of. That may mean trying out new styles, replicating masterworks, going to galleries, or studying from professionals in the field. This is when the mental lull can happen. You may feel that your work is childish or unimpressive. Maybe you can't draw better than your friends. We experience this sensation of a gap to overcome. Knowing how much more is possible but not knowing what you are missing is a very disheartening feeling. My best advice is to apply more focus, and practice your craft at faster rates. After you can't find room to store your work, you begin to let go of how precious your work is.

When your skill has been this built up, you trust your ability to create good work the next time you pick up your pencil. The knowledge is what frees you of worry. From here the factors sway. From some, the struggle could be what they consider honest art vs. marketable art. For others, it is high brow vs. low brow. Landscape or Portraiture. We all have to define our own paths in the end even though they play out very similarly.

My personal path started with drawing comic book characters and cartoons as a child. I was writing my own cartoons in middle school while starting to take photos with my Dad's DSLR. He shook when he took photos and asked me to do it once. The way I could compose the world so quickly through the viewfinder awestruck me. I also got into photoshop a few versions before CS was considered. Approximately 13 years ago now.

The summer after high school, I started building skateboards and longboards under Tan Man Longboards. I built about 350 longboards during a 5 year period. I really got to fall in love with woodworking, selling and marketing my boards, and meeting an incredible community built around the sport. The only reason I monetized my hobby was to make it self sustaining. I was seriously just in love with making custom boards for local Texans and trying to impress myself. 

Through out that time, I earned my B.F.A. at Texas State University in communication design. I also taught myself to paint from practicing as often as possible, studying other students works for what moved me, and got a job teaching smaller painting classes to up my skill and accuracy. I have pursued many things up to now but I know that the tide of art doesn't let you have the final say in what needs to be expressed in the moment. Enjoy the process.