Dear Artist (Yes, you!),

Even though I’ve been making art for my entire life, it took me a long time to start thinking of myself as an artist. I had always thought that, because I never sold my work or got it published or anything like that, that somehow that made me just some fool who messed around with pencils and paint in their spare time. A true artist, to me, was more than someone who just made art as a hobby. Now, however, I have found it in myself to be proud of all my work because I’ve come to learn that there is no such thing as “real” or “fake” art. All your art has to be is yours.

I have been fortunate enough to have art teachers who instilled this in their students. Never did I feel degraded or ignored because I made something that didn’t look exactly like my reference image or the examples the teacher showed from previous classes. Starting from kindergarten, all the way up through middle school and high school, the art room was always my favorite place to be. I have found that artistic people are often very kind, so if you’re looking for input or inspiration, don’t be afraid to ask. My art teachers have become close friends, instilling in me from a very early age that you are never done learning. Even though I have had this for my entire life, it is never too late to take up art and learn how to share your creativity. Art provides a bridge between you and everyone else, giving people a way to understand each other better in a world where that is often difficult.

You might say that you don’t make art simply because you have nothing that inspires you to do so. Inspiration, however, is everywhere. It’s frustrating until you find it, but it’s the best feeling when everything falls into place. Often, you never know where something’s going to end up until you start, so don’t be hesitant if you don’t have a plan. The finished product doesn’t have to rival a Monet or a Picasso to be considered art. We are often shown art that has a very particular style, and we come to expect the same type of thing out of ourselves. But that’s not all there is. All around the world, different cultures have made different art, and each and every piece has its own unique meaning. This will be true for your art as well.

In short, if you want to be an artist, you are. Whether it's drawing, painting, photography, songwriting, makeup, calligraphy, animation or however else you express your creativity, your art is valid. You have unique ideas, so if you want to express them, go ahead! We all have expectations based on what we’ve seen and been shown, but don’t let those stop you. Don’t let the other voices in the world drown yours out. No art is bad art — we all have to grow and learn as we go. As stated by the philosopher Ananda Coomaraswamy, “The artist is not a special kind of person, rather, each person is a special kind of artist.”

Sincerely, A Fellow Artist.