“You Should…”

Artists create work on an endless spectrum of subjects, mediums, and usages, yet amongst artists, from hobbyists to professionals, a common bond is hearing the refrain of “You should…”: “you should explore other subject matters, you should use other mediums, you should use more color, you should go digital, you should…”

While usually well-intentioned, this can also be hindering. I’ve heard “you should…” many times, both helpful, and hindering, mostly relating to subject matter, and sometimes forcing me to fight uncomfortably to impart certain elements and details into my work. As a professional illustrator, I’m always working to increase the subject matter that I can create. In my own personal sketchbooks, however, I leave behind much of the “you should”, focusing instead on drawing whatever what I want, in pure, raw fashion.

Recently, I visited the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY, where I discovered the work of late-19th century folk artists Fritz G. Vogt and John Rasmussen. I was drawn to their singular focus on finely-detailed, wonderfully-colored architecture and structures. Had they been around today, they may have heard “You should draw more than just buildings”. Luckily, such is not the case, and their work restored my faith in simply wanting to draw buildings (evident in many of my sketchbooks and client projects). Artists indeed create an endless spectrum of work, and to define your place on that spectrum, sometimes you just need to know which “you should”s to disregard.

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