These 5 Tips Are Essential For Any Young And Aspiring Artist

by Rashaad Denzel

Being an artist, whether a graphic designer, a painter or a musician, you really have to define the thin line between inspiration and imitation. The problem with so many young artists is they have developed this idea that being a good imitator of a well-known artist defines them as a good artist.

This idea stems from a lack of artistic knowledge and really bad art appreciation courses.

Young artists have become too trendy, too lazy, and too empty with substance to create original works of art. We can't allow a generation who prides itself on creativity to not actually be creative. Here are five quick tips you should consider when creating your next work of art:

Honor your predecessors.

I feel I have to say this as disclaimer for everything I have to say. We have trouble getting into the minds of others, and it’s certainly impossible to get into the mind of an artist. Young artists should admire classic artists from a distance. Make no attempts to recreate their work, to recycle their logos or distort any of their pieces for your own artistic efforts.

It sounds like a simple thing to do, but for this new age of artists, it seems almost impossible. We have to be respectful to those who have paved the way before us. We don't know if Jean-Michel Basquiat wants his famous crown logo over your head, or if late singer Aaliyah wants to be featured in your latest song. I think it’s important we honor those who were great before us, and only reference them for our inspiration.

Be original; don't be trendy.

Young artists have to be careful not to be creative based off trends. Trends in the 2010s have the shortest lifespans imaginable due to Twitter and Instagram, where trends live and die. Classic artists such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Da Vinci had no trends to reference for their artwork. Sure, they may have been inspired by other entities, but their final works came from within.

And that’s why, over two thousand years later, we still speak about their work. Today, young artists create things that will only be great for a few months, and after a few months, you will no longer remember or care. Whenever you create art ask yourself: will this still be great in ten years?

Be innovative.

From the critics who analyze the work of other artists, I hear, "That’s easy, I could have thought of that," or "If I had that, I could do the same thing." My response is always simple, "But you didn't." Artists today must not only be creative, but also innovative. Art is the ability to create something that someone else has not created already. I'm not implying that re-creating something with new implications is not art, but it’s also not 100 percent original.

I think one of the biggest mistakes artists make is comparing their work to the present works of other artists. This is especially true for musicians. Today's music can be just as trendy as our fashion.

It’s impossible for some young artist to listen to Jay Z's Magna Carta, and not feel inspired to make music. It’s psychologically proven that if you continue to listen to the same thing consistently, duplication is almost always guaranteed. Feelings of inspiration are good, but when those feelings turn into feelings of duplication is when the recipe for disaster is complete.

Create with substance. Experience initiates inspiration.

None of us have walked the same path or wore the same shoes. We are all very different when it comes to our personal experiences. A lack of creativity usually comes from artists not digging into their own personal experiences for inspiration. Instead, today's artists pull from other artist's experiences and waste time trying to recreate. No one knows your experiences better than you, Sticking to what you know will make you a great artist in the end.

We can try to understand why they Mona Lisa was painted, but the answer lies with Da Vinci. It's obvious that Da Vinci was inspired by a woman, either whom he knew personally, or the idea of a woman in his head. Artists should be digging deep into their own personal thoughts to create.

Classic will always be classic.

Finally, in a continued effort to help young people find inspiration, I suggest studying the ways of the past when creating. Philosopher, George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." As young artists, you have to study your art history, compare it to our present art trends and figure out what you, as an artist, can do to move things forward.

In other words, think of yourself as the end of an era, what would you want people in the future to know about your current state? I'm not implying that you have become a social activist, but understand the importance of history and its ability to shape art. You can never go wrong being a modern artist with inspiration from the classics.

Photos courtesy Tumblr/Flickr