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What Is a Self-Taught Artist (Explained With Examples)

As a self-taught artist and self-taught entrepreneur, I would say that we are all self-taught artists in some way.

Every day there are things we do, say, create that come from us.

Just as none of us are completely self-taught, because we are always learning something from someone or somewhere, directly or indirectly (yes, you too!), we are all self-taught in one way or another.

Sure it’s obvious on some levels, but when you think about it, it’s pretty compelling.

You may think that you are not creative, even though you are creating something at this moment. Be it through your actions, thoughts, or anything else.

Everything is a creation, whether you are writing an essay, arguing with your parents, or making something with your hands. Everything that you create is art.

Art has many forms. However, the kind of art that is appreciated in society is limited to a number of things such as paintings, sculptures, movies, drama, photography, and music.

Many fascinating works of art have been created throughout history and even today by people who have taught themselves art. For example, if you do not consider the works of Leonardo da Vinci or Vincent van Gogh to be art, it’s because your schooling gets in the way of most people’s worldview.

Related: Is Self-Taught Better

5 Examples of Mainly Self-Taught Artists

1. Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most successful self-taught artists and thinkers of all time. He was considered a genius even in his own time, and his life’s work was extraordinary in many ways. He created a number of famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, as well as inventions that were far ahead of their time, such as the flying machine, a robotic knight, and an underwater diving suit. Although he is best known for his artistic works, he was also involved in science, mathematics, engineering, and anatomy – among other fields. Da Vinci’s work embodies creativity in the truest sense of the word and is sure to be an inspiration to all who wish to emulate his path.

2. Vincent Van Gogh

Another name that comes to mind when thinking of self-taught artists is Vincent Van Gogh. As a teenager, he moved to London to study in an art gallery where he learned art techniques such as perspective and shading. After this experience, he created nearly 900 paintings in less than 10 years – including some of his most famous works like Sunflowers and Starry Night.

3. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was another successful self-taught artist. She was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico City. In her youth, Frida experienced two unfortunate incidents that would change her life forever. The first event occurred at the age of six, when she contracted polio, causing her right leg to become thinner than her left. This condition would later contribute to her lifelong health problems.

The second incident occurred when she was 18 years old. In a bus accident, she broke her spine, collarbone, pelvis, and several ribs, and suffered 11 fractures in her right leg.

These traumatic experiences were incorporated into many of Frida’s paintings. During her recovery from the bus accident, she received a paint kit from her parents and practiced painting.

4. Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin was a French post-impressionist artist known for his bold colors and rich symbolism. Although he did not receive formal artistic training until he left home at the age of 24, he is considered one of the leading artists in modern Western art history.

5. John Kane

John Kane was an American painter who rose to become one of the most famous professional artists of his generation despite his lack of formal training. Kane’s family was poor and could not afford a formal education for their son, who was born in Scotland and moved to America at the age of 19.

Assistant curator of American folk art and self-taught artist at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Katherine Jentleson, was fascinated by John Kane and even wrote a dissertation on him, mentioning other artists such as Horace Pippin and “Grandma” Moses.

Self-Taught vs. Art School

Learning a new art skill or hobby is no easy task. You can either learn at home and teach yourself the new skill, or attend an art class and have an experienced professional teach you. This can be a difficult decision, especially if you have no experience with art, but there are many factors to consider when making your decision.


One of the first considerations you make when choosing between the two options is the cost of being an art student. Self-taught art is cheaper because you do not have to pay expensive tuition fees. Of course, you will still need to purchase the materials, but again, there are ways to save money. If you choose to study in an art school, you will have to pay tuition and fees, as well as materials and book costs.


When teaching yourself, it can be very difficult to maintain motivation to learn a new skill. Many people start out with high hopes and goals but do not continue their studies because they do not have the self-motivation to keep going when they hit a rough patch along the way. However, in an art school, there’s always another art student around you to work with.

The Choice of Art School and Art Education

No one can tell you whether or not an art school is right for you. The decision to attend art school or not is a very personal one that only you can make, based on your own goals and needs as an artist.

I know great artists who have attended art school and others who have not.

Depending on your goals, an art school may or may not be right for you. Some people start out with self-taught art and are successful without ever having attended an art school.

However, if you want to know more about art history or the latest trend in contemporary art and modern art, formal art education can teach you much more about the art world and the art fundamentals than if you only had one artistic skill.

When choosing an art school, do not assume that attending a reputable institution is a prerequisite for your success.

At the very least, make sure that the teaching philosophy of any school you consider is compatible with your artistic goals and learning style, and remember that it can be difficult to repay art school loans after graduation.

When considering formal art education, the first thing you should ask yourself is what you hope to get out of the experience. Do you want to expand your skills, learn about the art profession, or connect with other artists and professionals in the art world?

What Kind of Art Does Not Need Formal Training?

That depends on your natural talent and also on how much time you are willing to devote to this art.

If you are truly talented and have formal training, you will master the art within a short time and become a ‘trained artist’. If you have formal training but no talent, it may take longer. If you have no formal training but are talented, it may take longer.

A person may be naturally talented in art. But if she does not spend time to improve her skills, she will not achieve much. However, if she works hard enough and acquires more skills, she can achieve things that would have taken ages to learn by herself.

The reason is that there is a lot of theory behind art, and without training, in theory, at least the basics, it may take you longer to learn some of the shortcuts. For example, if you do not know anything about color theory, your colors will look terrible because they will not blend well. You do not necessarily have to learn everything about color theory, but learning some basic rules like warm and cool colors and complementary colors will help your final work look good.

Some people have a natural inclination towards certain art forms, such as visual art (sculpting, drawing, or painting). Many people learn fine art through self-study by reading books, watching videos, and practicing.

However, other art forms require formal training to master. This is especially true for photography, music, and acting.

  • In photography, you have to be more technical to take good pictures. Even though the camera can be used in automatic mode, there are many other settings that can be used to improve the quality of an image.
  • Music requires an understanding of rhythm and melody to play well. This includes learning to read music and coordinate hand movements with foot pedals on a piano or organ.
  • Acting is a difficult art form because you have to learn to put yourself in every role you play. You also have to be able to project your voice well so that everyone in the audience can hear you well on stage.

Find Your Artistic Talent

If you are not an artist, it can be difficult to see the artistic talent in you. However, there are many different ways you can express your artistic talent. Good art is everywhere, and so is your artistic talent. Whether you paint a masterpiece or learn a new instrument, you are an artist.

Everyone has at least one artistic talent that they can use to express themselves. Some people are great at writing stories or poems. Others can draw beautifully or make amazing paintings. Some have a talent for dancing, singing, or playing musical instruments. Even if you have not found your artistic talent yet, it’s out there waiting for you to discover it!

You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish when you give yourself a chance to discover your talents.

Related: Can Everyone Be an Artist

Suggestions on How to Find Your Artistic Talent

Think Back to Your Childhood

What did you enjoy doing as a child? Children often channel their creativity through hands-on activities like painting and crafts. Sometimes adults lose this ability as they get older because they become more involved with everyday tasks and responsibilities. However, you can tap into that creative spark again.

Look at Your Interests

One of the best ways to find your artistic talent is to look at your interests.

  • What do you like doing in your spare time?
  • Do you enjoy painting, drawing or writing?
  • Do you like building models or playing music?

Think about the activities that make you happiest in the present day.

  • What do you enjoy doing when you have free time?
  • Are there any activities that make you feel truly alive? They might be the best place to start looking for your artistic talent.

Look at Your Skills and Abilities

Another way to find your artistic talent is to look at your skills and abilities. For example, if you’re good with numbers then this could mean that you have a talent for math and engineering. Or maybe you’re good with words and have a knack for writing and publishing. If you have an artistic skill or ability then this could be a sign of artistic talent. Talk to others

Get Feedback

Ask others what they think about your work. Are they impressed by it? Do they think it’s interesting? Do you think you want and can progress in this specific art field? How much time are you willing to commit to it?

Part of being a self-taught artist is constantly trying new things until something feels right for you. You might not know where your artistic talent lies until you try a few different things and see what makes sense for you.

You may have to try a lot of different things before finding one or two that really resonate with you, but that’s all part of the process. There is no one form of art that is better than the other, they are just different.

Some people love watercolors, others prefer ink – it’s a matter of finding out what works for you.

Explore Different Styles

If realism does not suit you, perhaps manga or abstract paintings are better suited to your personality and goals as an artist. Do not limit yourself to one genre of art, but explore them all and see where your inspiration lies. You may find yourself drawn to something completely unexpected, such as architecture, graphic design, or still-life painting artwork!

Then Decide on a Style and Stick With It for a While

The next step is to decide on the type of art that interests you the most and stick with it for a while. Do not try to learn everything at once, because that will only overwhelm and confuse you. Rather, focus on one thing until it becomes second nature to you.

Practice to Improve Your Artistic Skill

The only way to improve an artistic skill is to practice regularly and consistently over time. If you want to improve your drawing skills, I recommend drawing at least an hour a day (more if possible).

How to Know When You Are Good Enough to Be a Successful Artist

A question many artists ask themselves at some point is, “Am I good enough to be a professional artist?”

The concept of “good enough” is subjective and varies greatly depending on who you ask.

Some may say that if you have already been published (which is certainly a step in the right direction), you are good enough. Others say there’s no such thing as “good enough” because there’s always room for improvement.

There is no formal process to becoming a professional artist. Anyone can become one as long as they have enough drive and dedication. What matters is what you want to achieve, where, and when. Timing is also important! Maybe you are too advanced for your time!

But being a professional artist is hard work. You have to be mentally prepared for the challenges ahead.

Becoming a successful artist can be tough, especially in the beginning when you are trying to build a following for your work. You will have to invest a lot of time in the beginning, so you need to make sure you have the time you need, otherwise, it will be very difficult to succeed.

You’ll also need money because if your work does not sell quickly (which is unlikely), there will be times when you will not have any income at all. You will also need money for materials so that you can continue to create artwork, and you may also want to consider taking an art class.

How to Write an Artist Biography as a Self-Taught Artist

Your artist biography is one of the most important parts of your press kit if you are serious about becoming a professional artist. As an artist, this is your opportunity to share what inspires you to create art and how you got started as an artist. It is also the best place to share in your own words what makes you unique as an artist.

It does not matter if you have been painting for years or just picked up a paintbrush yesterday. I want you to know that you are an artist and worthy of writing your art bio so people can learn more about you and your work.

So how do you start writing a biography for a self-taught artist? I am glad you asked! Here are 5 steps to help you write your first self-taught artist biography.

Start with your personal story

List where you were born, where you live now, your self-taught or formal education, background (eg: personal art history like what connected you to your art).

Do not be afraid to include some personal details, such as which successful artist inspired you (that’s always interesting!). For example: Did you like to draw as a child, listen to a lot of music, your love for a type of contemporary art (eg: African American art), etc.?

If you have recently become a full-time artist, tell people about it and how excited you are about it! If you have had an interesting life, use it as inspiration for your art, but do not write too much in your bio because it will not interest most people unless it has something to do with how you make your art today.

Keep It Simple, Short and to the Point

Your resume is not a book or even a magazine article. It is a snapshot of who you are, what you do, and what you are capable of at that particular time. It should be no longer than three or four paragraphs so that it can be read quickly and easily by someone in a hurry.

Explain Why You Create the Kind of Art You Do

It’s important to let people know why you do what you do because it gives them insight into you and how you see your art evolving.

  • Note any awards or grants you have received for your good art work.
  • Describe any notable press coverage of your work or exhibitions.
  • list any publications in which your work has been featured, such as books or magazines.
  • public collections in which your work is involved may also be mentioned here.

In the art world, a biography is an artist’s resume. If you are trying to sell your work, it is essential that you have a well-written biography.

The most important thing when writing an artist bio is to write about your accomplishments and what makes you unique. You want to show people why they should be interested in your work.

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