“In spite of everything, I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.” —Vincent van Gogh
Art is something I have always loved. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed artistic expression and the feeling of relaxation it brings. When I was a kid—maybe six or seven at the youngest—my favorite “toy” was Microsoft Paint. I would ask my dad if I could use his computer to draw on Paint, and I remember I spent hours dragging the mouse around and creating (what I would now call) very… abstract pieces. While I possess a general appreciation for most art, my favorite has always been drawing with just graphite pencil and paper. Despite my love for art, I hadn’t been able to fit an art class into my high school schedule until the first semester of this (senior) year. I had an open hour, so I decided to take a class called 2D Art. It was mainly drawing and painting, and I absolutely loved it. With all the homework and stress of the school year, I had ended up setting my sketchbook aside in the interest of focusing on school, work, and a social life. But that class really reminded me how much I love drawing and that I actually did really miss it.
I had a sketchbook at one point, but it was one of those cheap, paperback spiral-bound ones from Wal-Mart that tend to fall apart just from breathing on it. So one day when I was at Michael’s with my friend, we found a shelf of nice, hard-cover, bound sketchbooks with a canvas-like cover and binding. They had them in a bunch of different colors, and I was going to get just plain black; but then I saw the jungle-y green with gold clock details, and I had to get that one. It was labelled as $15.99, but when I got to the cash register, it rang up at $4.99. My friend and I were both surprised by the price, and she actually went back into the store to buy one for herself. I cannot, for the life of me, remember what brand it was (I took the sticker tag off), and I couldn’t find a link to the exact same one. But if you’re interested in a sketchbook like the one I have, this one and this one are fairly similar. I know the brand wasn’t Artist’s Loft, but those were the closest I could find to the one I bought.
Although school and work and family and a social life keep me pretty busy with little down time, one of my goals for the rest of the school year is to just take a half an hour (or more) to draw at least one thing per weekend. Once graduation and grad parties and all those things are done with, I’m going to make it a summer goal to focus on drawing a little more.
Drawing in itself is not something I can really form into a career, but I can utilize my artistic skills in other ways. For the fall, I am currently planning on double majoring in graphic design and marketing, both of which could incorporate artistry. Whether or not drawing fits in somewhere, though, I know it will always be something I enjoy. It will always be an activity of relaxation, and the pages of that sketch journal will continually be a place where I can think, reflect, and get my mind off of things. Some may claim that art is useless for building a career or a pass-time for idiots who can’t do anything else.
But I disagree.
Art-related careers are unmistakably less profitable than, say, neurosurgery or aerospace engineering, and they won’t require difficult mathematical formulas or eight years of schooling or the amount of knowledge that is required to obtain a medical degree. That is basic, financially- and statistically-proven fact, and I seriously doubt anybody would try to argue that. (And I will admit that numbers and formulas are not my natural forte. I have the ability to learn number-related concepts, but it does not come naturally—it takes work.) To me, however, making art is not about making money—instead, it is about an escape; a place of solitude that allows my mind to wander freely while my hand guides my pencil to create something on the blank sheets in front of me. Art may not require certain types of intelligence that society deems “better than” others (such as knowledge of numbers or hard sciences), but to say that artists are stupid is pure ignorance. And if, for whatever reason, someone claims that artists are unintelligent just because their careers do not revolve around numbers (or whatever else is financially useful)… Well, honestly, that reveals more about the intelligence of the person speaking than that of the person being spoken about. Everyone possesses intelligence of some sort, and just because some people’s form of intelligence does not correlate to a high-profit job, doesn’t mean that their mental ability is inferior to someone else’s. Artists have the capacity to see beyond the here and now. Art is a visual language of sorts—it requires the ability to recognize and form patterns; consider elements such as symmetry and texture and value; to think conceptually and abstractly.
So no, those who indulge in art-related careers do not necessarily possess the same type of intelligence that is required of surgeons or lawyers or engineers, but lacking interest or knowledge of something does not make a person an idiot. Art-making demands an entirely different form of intellect: the ability to see past what is (or is not) here right now, and to create something out of nothing.