We Need to Challenge the 'Can't Draw' Mindset

christmas illustration Hey guys! I'm back. I intended to make my return with this blog post, but apparently I did that earlier by posting an unfinished blog post about podcasts that didn't even have a header image, without even realising. LOL. You can check it out, or read on....

Ok, so hands up all of you out there who think you 'can't draw'. Yeah, me too. Seems dumb that I spend my life, pretty much, drawing, but I also felt like I couldn't draw.

I have always been a creative kid. I spent the whole of my childhood doodling, writing 'books', drawing pictures, painting, making things. In primary school I was that kid who could draw, and further into school I lived for Art  and Drama lessons. At GCSE I took music, fine art and photography. I was sickeningly artsy.

But at A Level, I switched from Fine Art to Graphic Design. I convinced myself I was in the wrong world where 'Fine Art' was concerned. Whilst ultimately, I made a choice that has made me much happier (half the reason was because I felt like 'Fine Art' didn't have the same sense of 'purpose' that Graphic Design does), another part of the reason was that I felt like I couldn't draw, at least not properly, and would never be 'up-there' with the people who could create stunningly realistic sketches in biro of their grandparents, or splotch oil paint together and somehow create a picture that looked just like 'real life'.

My Graphic Design friends and I joked over the fact that we were doing graphic design because we 'couldn't draw' and I spent my two years of A Level merrily creating vector artwork (which I now see was totally Illustration) that I somehow didn't see as 'being able to draw' despite the fact that I created my vector illustrations from drawings.

christmas illustration

Then I got to University and I discovered Illustration, and it was something that went beyond the realm of just Harry Potter covers. There was this whole universe of illustrators doing weird and stupid and lovely things that didn't look 'like real life' that were happy and talented and appreciated. I felt like I came to the world of illustration so late, and those people who discover it much earlier in life had such a huge advantage.

I kind of had this realisation that hey, yes, I can do this if I want to and if I practice I will find a style I like, and get good. 

And then I set up a fancy online shop to sell that stuff in. Browse my illustrated stationery and homeware here!

I find it so frustrating that I spent such a long time feeling like I 'couldn't draw', at least not properly because I couldn't see how my talents fit in amongst all the praise for artists who made their work look like 'real life'.

And I think this viewpoint is really problematic.

I think we really need to challenge the notion that being able to draw = being able to look like real life. I know that I will never be able to go to Life Drawing classes and come out with charming charcoal sketches of nudie ladies and gentlemen, but it's taken me three years to become comfortable with the fact that I am good at creating any kind of visual representation of anything.

I think we really need to enforce the idea that talent does not necessarily mean 'making things look realisitic' and that creativity is about having the confidence to make something with some form of material, not just a label reserved for the select few michaelangelo's of the world.

Before I sound bitter, shout-out to those people who can draw a donut that looks like a fricking photograph of a donut with just one little rotary pencil. You are super-talented and I applaud you. I just want us to all applaud the weird and wonderful creators in the world who draw stuff that is weird and wobbly and misshapen, too. Here's some of my favourite not-real-life Illustrators, who are just as glorious: