Educated vs Self Taught

I love to browse artists’ websites to see the different styles of work that people do.  Sometimes I get inspired to try something new, which is always a good thing.

A while ago I saw something on an artist’s website that got under my skin a little bit.  That particular artist posted in her ‘About Me’ page that she was an educated artist, and that unlike self-taught artists, she knew what she was doing.


I looked at her art, and it was good, no doubt about it.  Was it better than mine, the art of a self-taught artist?  No, not really.  Her style was very simple and not super detailed, but it had a nice, soft quality to it.  It was nice.

What is the difference between a self-taught artist and one that has been formally educated?

Artists who go through the formal training get to know the parts of the body, like bone and muscle structure, and they practice doing the same things over and over again until they get it perfect.  There’s obviously a lot more than that, but this is just to give a reader an idea on what I’m talking about as far as “educated” means.

A self-taught artist practices and practices until things look right.

In the end, do I care exactly what the muscles are called?  Not really – it doesn’t add anything to my finished product.  It is super important, of course, to understand where muscles/bones are and how they’re shaped, or else drawings will come out looking kind of weird.

All the same, it’s practice, imagination, and observation that  will dictate the level of success that an artist will have.


This baby in progress, for example, is a few lines and some shading.  I can look at the photo and see where the shading and shadows should be.  The next time I draw a baby, I’ll know about the chubby cheeks and round little nose, and I’ll be able to produce it again.  It’s all just practice and experience and there’s nothing wrong with that.