In creating this site I have been exploring a ton of content online. I didn’t initially think of myself as a self taught artist until I saw some folks describing themselves that way on Instagram.
Once I saw that I began thinking of myself as a self taught artist helping other self teaching artists to self teach.
As time has gone on I have wondered about this term. At first, I wondered if the term was even fitting for me to apply to myself.
There was one article I came across describing a self taught artist as someone who is just making art blindly with a total lack of caring or disregard for any of the traditional rules that guide artists.
This is actually what my Dad does. He is not too interested in studying things like composition or color theory.
This drives me nuts but he is creating stuff at a rapid rate. I’m just happy that he has found an artistic outlet to express himself with.
The two paintings you see here are works of his where he struck upon some really nice harmonies with his colors.
This approach of just going at it and figuring it out on your own with absolutely no references or study is an approach many artists have taken in the past. It is what is sometimes referred to as naive art.
This is part of what made me wonder if the self taught term applies to someone like me who is always trying to expand my knowledge of various artistic principles. With every piece that I do, I’m trying to understand or study a particular principle.
So before we examine the potential differences between the self taught vs trained artists lets define them.
What Is A Self Taught Artist?
It is basically this simple, a self taught artist is an artist who didn’t get any sort of formal training from an art school.
Which obviously makes trained artists any artist who has had such education and training.
This is the main difference that pretty much anyone who describes themselves as a self taught artist means. It just means they don’t have the piece of paper stating they have studied all the things taught in a formal curriculum.
That said even trained artists are self taught to a degree. We all essentially start off that way. Then add to that the fact that even those who pursue higher education in the arts can only get what they put into it.
On the flip side of the argument, someone such as myself can easily take an online course, like those provided by Proko, that are properly structured to build up my skill set. So even if I don’t get that formal recognition from an accredited art school I can still do things to ensure that I’m getting all the gaps filled.
Then there is the argument that if you’re using any material at all to study and enhance your skills you are essentially learning from artists who came before you. So in this sense, you are not self taught as you are being taught by the artists who produced those materials you are consuming.
When you take a look at the bigger picture in this way, it can certainly muddy the division between the two.
I think the main concern that comes to my mind when thinking about having an official education vs not having one, is how that can impact one’s ability to make a career out of art.
It is really the main reason to recognize whether there is any potential distinction between the two types of artists.
But…does the art industry recognize any difference between them?
I know that as I continue to develop my skills as an artist I’m starting to think more and more about how I might be able to make a career out of it.
I personally have no intention of ever going back to school. So what are the potential options for a self taught artist? Can a self taught artist pursue things like say some sort of animation career?
Could a self-taught artist get hired at a gaming company?
Are there jobs artists can only get if they have a degree or have gone through some sort of formal education?
Career Options For The Self-Taught Artist VS Trained Artists
When it comes to whether or not your career options are limited as a self taught artist, the short answer is no. If you are able to prove you can get the results that the potential employer is looking for then you have a chance at getting the job.
When it comes to selling paintings, if you produce good work that sells, you should be able to find outlets that will host your work.
Whether you’re self taught artist or a trained artist there are a number of avenues online to sell your work. You can create your own website to sell your original canvas paintings or you can sell your work through on-demand print services. There are a literal ton of options to monetize your work!
More than that there are so many career choices in the creative industry it may be harder to decide on a route to take then to find work once you do decide.
From Working Artists To Studio Recruiters
In order to figure out whether self taught artists could have a career selling their paintings in a gallery or get a job with a big studio, I decided to go to LinkedIn. (come link up and connect with me on LinkedIn my fellow arteest)
I went ahead and started reaching out to various artists and recruiters to see what they all had to say on the subject.
Every response I have obtained thus far all agree that what you can do is far more important than how you learned to do it.
I was able to get input from a couple of different artists and a recruiter for a major animation studio. One artist is a painter of abstract impressionism while the other is a 3D character and prop artist.
The painter, based in Dubai, was totally self-taught and only started painting 7 years ago.
Her name is Sheeba Khan. She is quite impressive and was an astounding first contact for me to make on LinkedIn. She is a very passionate person eager to share her brilliance with the world!
Here she is working in her studio! Click here to check out her site and some more of her work!
In the past 7 years, Sheeba has accomplished quite a bit. She has been able to earn 5 awards and she has a painting in the permanent collection of the Haegeumgang Theme Museum in South Korea! I think that is pretty darn cool!
On top of that, she has been featured in a prestigious art book that only picks from 50 artists around the world!
I’d say she has done pretty well as a self-taught artist so far. For only having picked up the practice 7 years ago that is quite the track record.
The other artist I spoke with, Scott Salkind, is a full-time freelance character artist. He did graduate from Full Sail University and has definitely put in the work to become an awesome artist!
Here is an example of his awesome work! If you want to check out more of his work click here! If on the other hand you are looking for a freelance character artist check out his LinkedIn profile here!
When I asked him if it was possible for a self taught artist to get hired doing something like what he does he responded “Short answer, yes absolutely. Art is art, at the end of the day studios don’t really care how you got to where you are, just that you did!”
So if you are hoping to get into something similar just know all you have to do is prove you have the skills needed!
Finally, I was able to get some input from an actual recruiter for a big animation studio. I can’t say exactly which one but I will say it is very likely you have seen some of their films.
He said “It is all about the portfolio, so that is what will make you stand out! If you have the chops to do the work, that’s what they look for at a feature film studio, first and foremost! “
No matter where you want to go as an artist, as long as you have enough determination and persistence you can get there. Whether you’re self-taught or you pursue an art degree of some sort.
It takes effort and dedication to a particular outcome in order to manifest that outcome.
If you can produce a quality portfolio or animation reel then you can get your foot in the door!
When it comes right down to it, there really is no point in making this distinction of self taught vs trained. We are all essentially both.