Art as Inspiration, Art as Education

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

There are many different structures to art, whether it be music, film, games, or otherwise. But to an artist, each art form can have its own use — either as inspiration, or as education.

First, some background on me: in addition to writing my thoughts down on the internet and making products at random, I’m also a writer. Since I’m a writer, I need to gather a lot of information to hone my craft. Of course, studying an art is a lot different from studying something like a hard science. You might be able to take a course or read a textbook to learn something like mathematics or electrical engineering, but the same cannot be done for art (Some will try to convince you otherwise — do not trust them). So, how do you get better at art, then?

The first step is to learn by education. See what the masters before you have done. You can’t learn from masters by taking a course — you have to dive into them. If you’re an artist, try to sketch out pictures by your favorite artists by yourself. If you’re a musician, try to deconstruct the beatmaking and instrumentals used by your favorite musicians. The same can be said for virtually all other art forms. For me, I try to read widely — both fiction and non-fiction — to get a grasp about what works and what doesn’t. 

Then, there’s art by inspiration. You ever heard of the phrase ‘Great Artists Steal’? Well, while I think the phrase itself is a little too aggressive, there is some truth to it. Artists build off of other artists. The best art is made by artists who saw the works of others and thought, ‘This is good, but it would be BETTER if…’ 

I have a google doc that catalogs every paragraph I’ve read in a book that’s ever made me go “Damn, that’s good writing”. You can make an equivalent catalog for your art form of choice, just make sure they’re short enough to really reap the quality. If you’re into movies, you might grab a scene that makes you go “Damn, that’s good direction”. If you’re into games, you can grab a level or sequence that makes you go “Damn, that’s good design”. Etc., etc.

So I hope based on this you’ve realized that there’s some good purpose to art beyond just using it for entertainment. I’d also recommend that everyone do this practice, even if you aren’t an artist. There’s nothing to lose by expanding your creativity. 

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