I’ve wanted to do a blog post like this since the idea of keeping a blog came to my mind. In fact, it all started with this idea: asking my favourite Islamic art artists to share their best advice to aspiring artists and put all those answers together for you guys. Yes, that’s how it all started.
I’m one of those people that have to do everything perfectly. The quote “it’s better done than perfect” doesn’t apply to me. “it’s better done AND perfect” it’s my version HA!
I thought “What’s the use of a blog if I only had to publish one post?” So I decided to make a whole year worth of content.
Whenever I’m unmotivated or overwhelmed I come back to this blog post and it feels like breathing again.
Here is the advice of 7 artists that I’m sure you follow on Instagram just like I do. If you don’t follow them, I’ve put a link to their website and IG page. If you are curious about what my advice is, check this blog post.
I hope you enjoy the read and let me know what you think about them in the comments below 🙂
Make something every day, however small.
Don’t overthink or analyse it too much. Thinking about your work, developing skill in your chosen discipline and refining your aesthetic sensibility happen through the making process and creativity flows the more you make. Everything will come from this simple discipline if you do it regularly and are relaxed and attentive as you do it.
Following on from this, don’t be precious about what you’ve made, just make more. To me, that’s all it’s about.
Once when I was having doubts as to whether or not I was an artist, a friend told me, “An artist is one who makes art. If you are creating art, you are an artist.”
And as I doubted his bold statement, he said, “You might not invent all your own material or even have your own ideas. But I don’t know anyone sitting down and drawing that pattern the way you are. Nobody is spending the same time you spend on it. It might exist in the world, but YOU are the one that is actually doing it. You’re the one with the patience to draw all those lines, and the ability to stick with it, and you’re the one who actually enjoys that challenge. So you’re an artist.”
I’ve learned you can be an artist, even if you are only an artist for yourself. Listen to what your mind and body need. They will tell you what you are called to make. You have to put in the hours and you have to start from zero. But if you have a passion for something, the more you pay attention to it, the more that passion will grow, and with practice, you will improve. Keep experimenting until you find your thing.
Don’t compare yourself to others, be kind and don’t be afraid to fail!
In today’s world we are constantly surrounded by images of people living their most “perfect” lives. We see perfection everywhere. Perfect families, perfect faces, perfect bodies and art is no different.
Social media is filled with gorgeous flat lay images of beautiful art work, whether in the form of immaculately drafted geometric drawings, watercolour paintings that shimmer with gold or exquisitely detailed miniatures, the list is endless!
The thing to remember is that if someone is better at something than you, the likely reason is that they have failed at it many, many more times than you! Improvement is always based on a thousand failures. The trick is not to give up, and keep trying.
Of course, it is ok and in fact important to be critical with ourselves. Being critical challenges us and helps us to improve. That said always be kind and give yourself balanced feedback! Invest in yourself by taking a class or carving out a little time just for you, sometimes this can be the toughest challenge.
Use social media wisely, and if you are inspired by other people’s work please acknowledge that openly; and remember there is a very fine line between inspiration and imitation!
Being an artist its not always easy, you need to be healthy – more mentally than physically.
The work you create is not only an embodiment of aesthetically elevated values but also a window of enlightenment and wisdom. To reach this station one must open the heart and mind to let the light seep in so the inspiration is born which is present around us – all the time. Its the things that stay with us and find abode in our hearts.
My advice to all the artists is ‘find your centre’ and the rest will take care of itself. Let your practice and your craft be your guide to teach you patience, self-control and discipline – once achieved and you’ll be flying high like a bird.
Keep trying and put yourself out there.
Being an artist is a wonderful thing. To be able to express your creativity full time is the goal for many of us and it does sound like a dreamy career, but there is a lot of work involved beyond creating art and painting.
There are so many admin things you have to do and a lot of them are boring. You have to constantly apply for things as well like funding, gallery open calls and so on. Not many people think of these things when they want to become artists and when they face all these tedious tasks and challenges, they give up, but it is important to keep trying because hard work pays off and opportunities will come your way to sustain you. You have to keep working on your own skills as well to get better and faster at what you do, but that’s the fun part!
Putting yourself out there is also vital to your growth as an artist, so having a website and documenting your journey in the arts and showcasing your work will help you to get known and to establish an audience that would want to work with you and support you.
Keep it simple
Why is this the first thing I mention? Because I ALWAYS seem to complicate things! I would never start creating until I knew exactly how I wanted the finished art work to look.
It’s good to sit and plan your work, but too much of it starts eating into your creative time. I often find that if I sit and think over an idea for too long, I end up worrying about ruining it before I’ve even started! Over thinking can confuse a simple idea and then take away from the light bulb moment you had. Also planning too excessively can also make you shy away from taking a risk and stunt any possibility of developing your work spontaneously.
So when an idea emerges try not to spend a huge amount of time going over the finer details and trust yourself! I find it’s best to start moving the work along physically and visually. I start my work with all the things that I’m sure I want to include and then build around this framework. Getting the work started gives you the opportunity to enhance the initial idea, while you continue the creative process.
Everyone’s creative process is different and some may prefer to iron out all the details and that’s fine too, if it works for you! I tend to find my ideas become stagnant and lifeless if they remain in the planning phase for too long. As a creative you passionately want to see your ideas come to life, so once you see the work begin to take shape, it actually fuels you to keep going!
Change it up
Try to start a few different pieces of work. Many artists will tell you they have more than one piece of work on the go. I personally find if I work on something for too long, my eyes get tired/bored and sometimes this leads to doubting what I’m creating (not a good feeling!). Jumping between work is perfect, it gives you a fresh pair of eyes and renewed perspective on your work and as a result you stay excited, which is so important.
Even if I only have one piece of work on the go, I take a short break from it. When I stop working on a painting, I don’t always put it out of sight. I try and leave it where I can see it everyday from a far and trust me this really helps too. You begin to see things you couldn’t see whilst working so closely with it!
Now, if you are doing a commission, the above may not be so easily applied. You have a deadline to adhere to. The commissioner is always looking for updates, so you’ll need to show you are continuously progressing. In this case planning well is in your best interest, because you don’t want any disputes over what you’ve created. In a nutshell when it comes to working to deadlines, being organised pays off heavily!
Ultimately don’t let anything get in the way of enjoying the art you create! It’s a huge honour and blessing to be able to practice any form of art!
My name is Shaimaa, I’m a Dutch-born North African junior doctor and artist based in Devon.
Believe that your work is worth bringing to the table
Many people are disheartened to develop or see through with their artwork because they feel others are already tapping into that area. Know that no-one can create artwork the way YOU create artwork. Your ideas, creative developments and processes are entirely unique and this should drive you to create and share your work with the world. So just to recap, there is always space at the table. Always remember that!
Invest in your craft
It is important to see the pursuit of an artist as a venture and not a small hobby. Knowledge is power, in every field ever. I have been attending art courses and investing my time and money into learning as an artist for about eight years and have not regretted it once because it has really helped me to exhibit, sell, network and grow. Be open-minded about the kinds of classes and talks you want to attend, commit to it and go! I guarantee you will lead a truly remarkable creative journey.
Build a community around you
The lovely thing about being an artist these days is that we can connect with the creatives from all around the world, and feel like a community. I cannot recommend networking enough! It is an absolute magical experience to attend events and have great conversations with fellow creatives that are artists, writers, photographers, illustrators, the list goes on! Attending exhibitions, talks and events has taught me that showing up allows you to meet people that will inspire you, be inspired by you and that during those days when you feel like you are alone.. You soon realise you are not.
The last thing I will advise is to keep going.
Creating art is a necessary luxury that will add a lot of value to your life and the life of others people around you. Always remember to keep going, even when you feel like you are not getting anywhere with your work. Have one or two goals to reach over a certain time period, whether that be creating work for an exhibition, a commission of just a personal goal – – this usually keeps me motivated. The process is a beautiful journey, and just as important as your final art piece.
7 Islamic Art Artists Share their Best Advice
February 18, 2020