by Lee Down

Creativity and art for entertainment and expression are nebulous concepts about humanity if you think about them. No other living creatures on this planet create for purposes other than what’s practical for them.

A beaver can make a dam, yet it needs to do so to preserve its home. A bird can tweet a song, but it does so to mark its territory and attract mates. A spider can spin a beautiful web, but only to capture its dinner. What sets us humans apart from other animals is that we can make art — something that has nothing to do with survival and everything to do with living.

Art is an ever-evolving subject, spreading over almost everything, and we all feel the urge to study and recreate it.

It’s essential for any artist, professional or amateur, to explore the boundless reaches of mediums, topics, techniques, and commentary to fully understand the big picture of art’s necessity and application in human life. By constantly educating yourself about the evolving nature of art, the more fulfilled you will be.

Building Up Your Skill is Part of Self-care

Enjoying art — whether by educating yourself on new forms or practicing your craft further — can be a form of therapy, personal development, and self-care.

Like with any skill, continuing to learn and hone that skill gives you confidence in your abilities, increases competency, and generates greater results over time. Building up your own artistic skills and widening your array of options is a way you can contribute to your own future in a positive and constructive way.

We owe it to ourselves to pore into our talents and manifest them into tangible and diversified skills. However, it’s important to find a balance. It’s just as easy to burn out from the craft that set you ablaze in the first place. Some artists may also use their craft as an excuse for self-care when in reality they should seek out professional help to help cope with their emotional and mental hurdles. Using art to conceal your mental health won’t actually solve anything, and will prolong any issues you may be coping with.

How Artists Can Continue Learning

Slow Learning as an Artist Helps Maintain and Increase Adeptness

It’s no question that skills we invest time, money, and effort into are not everlasting. Like any muscle in the body, you need to exercise it for it to thrive and grow stronger. If you maintain the bare minimum to keep your body functioning, it won’t excel. It will simply remain stagnant and possibly even deteriorate over time. The same perspective should be applied to art.

No one wants to feel stagnant in what they do, either professionally or in what they choose to do just for pleasure.

Pursuing an art form and its nuances is part of what shapes one’s adeptness in their field. The learning curve with most fine arts tends to slow down the deeper you delve into it, but that shouldn’t be grounds to feel unmotivated or as if you’ve lost your talent or a knack for it.

Being more adept at something requires patience and commitment to slow learning.

What many artists may find is that they can quickly intake 70 – 80% of all that they know very early on and in a short period of time. What becomes discouraging is accessing that final 20% that will make them truly great and proficient in their medium.

Realize that the more you learn, the slower it will be to tap into that final 20% proficiency threshold. Don’t take this as a sign that your talent is fading or that you’ve hit a wall. It’s part of the process that high achievers need to go through to unlock their true potential.

Keeping Up With Trends

One way to maintain progression in your field is by keeping up with the latest tools, technology, and trends that are benefiting your fellow contemporaries. For example, trends in graphic design are a great way to inspire future creative choices in digital artistic spaces. However, it’s equally important to not let these trends dictate every creative decision you make. Instead, trends should be used simply to inspire.

Doing so will not only ensure you’re competitive with other creatives in your field, but you’ll also be ahead of the game. Those who only follow trends will constantly be chasing a dream that they’ll never achieve. However, if you pursue education and trends that actually interest you and dig deeper from there, those around you will start to observe more.

Fostering Community, Peers, and Friendly Competition

One of the best ways to stay in the know and continue learning in your artistic field is by participating in community events and competitions and communicating with other artists that share your interests.

When we compete with others, it forces us to adapt quickly and innovate in creative new ways. This logic can apply to furthering your own artistic progress. Competition drives progress. It forces participants to break the mold, innovate, impress, and improve.

Repeating the past will rarely ever turn heads, which is why involving yourself in art fairs, festivals, exhibitions, and the like is crucial in pushing yourself to reach that next step of greatness.

Jump into the community and learn from what’s around you. Recent events in the world can inspire your next big creation, so paying attention to the circumstances and people around you is a must.

You may even discover large communal art projects that can teach you something new that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access if you were alone.

Humanity’s Reach Should Exceed Its Grasp

To mold your artistic skill further, you should be willing to push yourself beyond your zone of comfort. Often, what improving artists will do to regiment their continued learning is to build a routine for themselves which commits them to stretch their known skills.

Dedicate a certain amount of time each week to trying out something new that you’ve never attempted before. Set goals for yourself, be it harnessing a specific technique, completing a piece in a pre-set amount of time, or even mixing mediums.

Remember, that the longer you practice an art form, or any skill for that matter, the amount of time you spend to reach your peak proficiency increases. In other words, be ready to experience a “growth plateau” as you’re honing your skill deeper.

With repeated effort in venturing outside of your comfort zone, you’ll develop your skills better than you’d ever realized you could! The potential has always been there, you just need to discover for yourself what systems to put in place that will truly help you grow.

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