How to Become an Artist Without Going to Art School

You’ve always been creative and enjoyed making art all your life. But becoming a professional artist still seems out of your reach. Think again!

It’s possible to focus on art at any stage in your life. You don’t need to study it to become an artist!

There are several excellent reasons not to go to art school. You heard me right! Art school is not a necessity. It can even have a negative influence on your creativity and unique style.

If you’ve been thinking, ‘I want to be an artist,’ but you don’t know where to start, read on. I’ll walk you through how to become an artist, from scratch, and with no official training.

Plus, I’ll share my tips for beginner artists to give you a headstart.

I wrote this article because expressing myself through art is a huge factor in my life. Without being able to work as an artist, I wouldn’t feel fulfilled and content.

I spent years in several art schools, such as visual arts, and fine arts. I also understand that not everyone has the opportunity to study art or go to college.

That’s why I put together this guide on how to become an artist without going to art school.

Why You Don’t Need to Go to Art School

Going to art school seems like the obvious choice for any wannabe artist. But being an artist means coming up with new ways to express yourself. 

Classes in art school often focus on learning about other artists’ styles, techniques, and history. You’ll spend time studying different art movements or replicating famous artworks.

But you won’t necessarily find out how to develop your style. In fact, you might even lose your way.

You can also find some useful advice in the above video by AKB Illustrations.

Plus, there’s the obvious fact that art school is expensive. A lot of talented artists don’t have the money or time to devote four years to studying at college.

Instead, there are much more effective and affordable ways to learn techniques. 

You can sign up for a class, take an online course, or even watch YouTube videos. The most important aspect is that you put in the time required.

You’ll need to practice, practice, practice. Because it’s only by applying yourself and making mistakes that you’ll improve.

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How to Become Better at Drawing

Even if you want to use other means of expression, every artist needs to be able to draw. It’s essential to be able to sketch images and understand perspective.

Then, once you’ve mastered these skills, you can get creative. 

Maybe you think that drawing’s not for you. You might be wondering, why am I so bad at drawing? But no one is born knowing how to draw spectacular designs.

Everyone has to practice. You, too, can master the art of drawing!

First of all, I recommend that you focus on the basic techniques. After that, you can go crazy with your own unique style.

But make sure that you have the foundations of art to help you progress.

Sketching is the starting point for many artists. The best way to learn is through practice, practice, practice. And by that, I mean every day for as long as you can! 

Aim to spend an hour every day drawing and sketching. You can draw real-life items, copy from photographs, or a book. Another useful technique for drawing is to follow step-by-step guides. 

Here is my tutorial on how to draw a dog. You’ll find countless tutorials on YouTube for anything you could think of. So there’s no reason not to start sketching! 

Resources and Tips for Beginner Artists

If you decide not to go to art school, you’ll need to find other resources to help you learn. Here is everything you’ll need to learn how to become a professional artist:

Online Courses 

How to become an artist without going to art school - Courses

Image: Lewis Keegan

There are some great, low-cost resources out there for amateur artists. I recommend studying affordable online courses to help boost your skills.

More online course platforms pop up all the time – read my roundup of the best places to find online art courses here.

Skillshare is another well-respected website that has lots of courses suitable for artists. I did some research on the best Skillshare classes, to save you time! Check out my complete list here!

Must-Have Books on Art and Art History

how to become an artist without going to art school - Art books

Image: Kari Shea

Books are another excellent resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. Especially when you pick out the right titles! 

For beginner artists, I recommend investing in a few informative yet accessible books. They are a worthwhile investment for understanding art techniques and learn new skills An art book offers inspiration and guidance. Plus, you can refer to it whenever you like. 

If you want to learn more about art history, don’t miss my list of must-have books for enthusiasts. They provide a gentle introduction to different art movements through the ages.

But if you want to learn more practical skills like drawing, you need a book with step-by-step guides. Make sure to read my reviews of the top drawing books.

You’ll love the simple yet detailed instructions on how to get better at drawing.

Essential Tools for Beginner Artists

how to become an artist without going to art school - Essential tools for beginner artists

Image: Rifqi Ali Ridho

Now you’ve got the list of books and courses you’ll need to become an expert artist. But you’ll also need to stock up on a few supplies, too. It’s better to buy a few quality tools and materials than buy loads that you won’t use.

So here’s my round-up of the tools and supplies you need to get started!

An artist would be nowhere without some good colored pencils. Check out my recommendations for the best sets here

Buying an art set is an excellent way to stock up on art supplies. You get everything you need, and it tends to be cheaper than buying individual items.

Here’s my guide to the best art and painting sets around now!

Before mastering painting, you’ll want a surface to work on. Take a look at my roundup of easels and painting desks here.

A drawing box is another useful tool to have around. It’s handy for tracing and sketching accurate designs. Plus, it gives you a bright surface to work on to see those intricate details.

Check out my buyer’s guide to the best light boxes for tracing to help you chose the right one.

If you have a birthday coming up, your friends and family might not know what to buy you. I suggest that you recommend this list of great gift ideas for artists.

Then, you’ll be sure to get something you will use and appreciate! 

how to become an artist without going to art school - Tools

Image: ConvertKit

Digital artists need the right tools, too. There are plenty of options, from standalone tablets to drawing tablets with screens

If you’re looking for a laptop, you’ll need one that meets your requirements. An artist’s laptop should have a fast processor and exquisite graphics.

But the choices are endless and overwhelming. Instead of shopping for hours, find out which laptops I recommend for artists here.

When I put my guides together, I search for only the best options that meet an artist’s needs. So, you can feel confident in any of your purchases.

I look for the top features and hunt down bargains, too. 

You Can Become an Artist, Too!

Becoming an artist isn’t impossible! Anyone can do it if they have determination and a willingness to learn. If you’ve been wondering how to become a professional artist, just follow these tips!

Make sure to practice every day and don’t give up. Try new things and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s when you learn the most! 

Then, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a professional artist. It’s not an easy path, but if you feel the calling, it will be rewarding. Good luck on your journey, fellow artist!

If you have any comments or questions, drop them in the comments below. I always love hearing from my readers, and I’ll get back to you soon!

This article is available in french

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My name is Outmane Amahou, 2D / 3D graphic designer and artist.
I like drawing and painting. I'm an avid reader of books in various fields such as creativity, innovation, and technology.
I have a great appreciation for minimalism in art, design, and life.
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