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So you think you can’t draw?

| Friday, February 12, 2016

You should totally draw.

My experience as an amateur artist has brought me to many different worlds — not “different planets” worlds, more like “spontaneity of the mind” worlds where you can invent anything you can think of with your imagination. Like writing poetry or composing music, drawing is a great creative outlet the average person seems to dismiss far too easily. But with drawing comes the gift of something you really can’t find anywhere else: an inflated ego.

Thinking I’m “all that” doesn’t come without consequence. Once, while I was detailing Harry Potter’s mug in colored pencil and crayon, a colleague leaned over my shoulder and said, “Wow, that’s so good!” Now, I enjoy compliments as much as anyone does, and part of the reason I make art is to shamelessly show off. Subsequently, I heard “I wish I could draw like that,” but in an almost regretful tone, which made me feel as though I’ve done a disservice for knowing how to draw a recognizable face.

What do I make of this situation? Can being too good at something have a negative impact on others? Should I stop doing what I enjoy, which doesn’t actively harm others, to avoid confrontation? These are all questions I mulled over and in a few moments, simply threw away. I had to move on, focusing my energy on myself and my work.

The great thing about art is that there are no rules: You can draw a bear head on a chicken body and name it John Cena. You can also forgo any semblance of form and pull a Jackson Pollock, who, as you can see with a Google image search, created chaotic pieces of incredibly abstract art with the side effect of becoming famous. In any case, you have full freedom and control over what you put down on paper — whatever you draw is yours. And that is the great egotistical quality of a drawing: an exaggerated sense of self-importance, just because you created it.

One phrase I find hard to respond to is “I cannot draw.” It’s a mindset that makes a faulty assumption. Realistically speaking, drawing is a technical ability that takes time to build. Years in, you accrue skills that depend only on the effort you put into honing them. Yet, going all-in on realism as the be-all, end-all qualifier for “good art” distracts from the creative noodling that is the primary engine of any creative endeavor.

We’ve all doodled at least marginally and at the very least in the margins of our notes, but if you really think you cannot draw, consider this: All babies are chumps. There are 20 million children under four years old in the United States, and they probably have not developed fine motor skills, cannot write and, if under six months old, have not even developed basic object permanence. The only thing babies have going for them is that they are unaware of standards by which they can compare themselves to others.

You, on the other hand, can pick out exact change from your overcrowded wallet, write and type pages upon pages of notes and papers and have developed your object permanence to the point where you are confident that person down your hall is breaking parietals. With an abundance of paper on campus and a cornucopia of hidden free pens, the only thing holding you back is finding the time to do a doodle.

Drawing is fun. You should try it out.

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