If I ever get my hands on whoever is still spreading this rumor that you need a degree to go pro at anything (well, short of a medical or law professional) it ain't going to be pretty.
But, this week's question is specifically about whether you need a degree to become a professional artist.
The short answer is NO. You don't even need a certificate from the art department of a tech school.
Now that's out of the way, let's get into the more relevant question, and the long answer.
What Do You Need to Be a Pro Artist?
First, you need to create at a pro level.
1. Vision. There must be something you want to create.
2. Passion. You must really care about creating that vision well. It shows in the final version.
3. Education. This does not have to be a degree in the arts. It could be self-study and careful observation, it could be online classes, it could be weekend or adult education classes, but you need some way of learning the rules of your media so you can work well with it.
4. Practice. You need a lot of hours of practice before you're going to be able to create your vision well.
5. Persistence. Also known as grit, determination, stick-to-it-iveness, and stubbornness. It's hard to master anything, and if you're going pro, you need to be a master of your own style.
Second, you need your own style. A lot of amateurs simply crib pro work and expect to somehow gain a following and get rich and respected or whatever it is they want. But that attitude keeps them locked in at amateur level, being poor, watered down imitations of real artists.
It's fine to copy pro work to learn from it, it's even okay to trace to get familiar with proportions and perspective and other tricky bits. But personally I'd never attempt to sell something like that.
As the saying goes, why be a poor imitation of someone else when you could be a great you?
Honing your own style involves a lot of feeling around in the dark, figuring out what works for you, trying things you don't necessarily enjoy fiddling with (for me it's machinery... I like organic lines), and taking constructive criticism and learning from your mistakes and getting back up to try again.
You need to know the rules, and why they exist, and then you'll know when breaking a rule makes a piece stronger. Picasso is known for his abstract art, but he was trained in realism and he has some excellent realistic portraits and drawings in his early work.
By the way, drawing from life is the way to go if you're interested in drawing any style. The practice will help you draw gestures that aren't stiff, shadows that look possible, plants, animals, objects, rooms, everything. You need to train your eyes and your mind to see and perceive the lines and shapes that you can put on paper.
There's more, but I guess I'm putting that in another post later. Comment below with questions and any specifics you want me to address!
Electric City ComiCon Next Saturday!!!!
P.S. Don't forget, I will be in Anderson at the Electric City ComiCon next Saturday with my friend Shandra Kroger of Lightning Prophetess, from 1:00 to 5:00. It's going to be a great event at the Anderson County Main Library. At 4:30, there will be a Cosplay Contest, so I will be bringing the Cosplayer Care Kit, filled with sewing supplies, safety pins, bobby pins, tape, glue, and more, AND I will have facepaint touch-up available. Harley Quinns and Jokers take note! I know that white makeup is tough to maintain!
NOTE: Purchased costumes are ineligible for contestants over age 13, and of course this is a family-friendly event, so you might want to err on the side of modesty with your costume if you think it might be iffy.
In addition, I will have Steampunk Goggles, Vixies Original Art, masquerade masks, Steampunk embellished hats, hand-crocheted fingerless gloves, my Abstract Fairy Tale Art, and more! I'm lookig forward to seeing you there!
Artist, writer, creator of stuff. I just want to build worlds for you to escape to.