Hey guys I love the website so far it’s full of wonderful content and I have already addressed my issues with the site on the facebook page for the site, Anyways I’ve tried asking this question on your youtube channel but without success so I’ll ask it here. My question is what would you recommend for someone that is talented in drawing art but doesn’t lack the patience or mental capacity for the education required for a career in the field? My friend James has Asperger’s syndrome an autism spectrum disorder and so when he tried attending college he wasn’t able to keep up with the classes. He excels at drawing anime and some characters from movies like harry potter or comic books but lacks the confidence in himself to see he can be recognized for his skills. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Lauren Wheatley from Baltimore, MD
Ah, a question that has nothing to do with being gay. I must say, this is a welcome change of pace. Granted, I’m not a counselor or therapist or professional in any way when it comes to mental health, but I can do my best to give you some insight.
Artistic professions are strange in that it is good to have actual training, but it’s not required. Take media for example, which is my field. Yes, I went to school to learn things like editing and cinematography and the like. That said, though, there are plenty of people out there who have jobs doing those exact same jobs and haven’t received a bit of formal training. They simply taught themselves everything they needed to know. Sure, school and training is good in that it gives you some credibility and helps you with some professional contacts, but it’s not required. Same goes for someone who, say, wants to write a novel or paint or draw.
During one of my classes, though, there was a guest lecturer who said something that I’ll never forget. It’s one of the only lessons that a person needs to know before they pursue a career in a creative field. He said: “You’re not a director until you’ve directed something. Sure, you can call yourself anything you want. Aspiring this, rising that. But the simple fact of the matter is that you can’t really carry a title like ‘director’ or ‘writer’ or whatever until you do something that you can show people.” I would say that the same goes for your friend’s talent. Yes, I’m sure he’s got entire sketchbooks filled with some pretty incredible drawings and such. But the simple fact of the matter is that he won’t be able to turn his talent into a career unless people start paying him to do it. It’s like that like that the Joker says in The Dark Knight: “if you’re good at something, never do it for free.”
On that note, I suggest your friend try and try to seek out some sort of semi-professional gig, even if it means volunteering to do a first gig for free. I was actually made to do this in one of my classes, and I’m glad I did. Working with a client who is giving you money introduces a whole new variable into the art equation. The minute someone starts giving you money to do something, they’re going to want to start giving their opinion of the final product. After all, it is their money. But such is the unfortunate reality of being a creative professional. This is the same pain that every artist must suffer, be they a person who draws or who paints or takes photos or makes videos or movies or whatever. Yes, this may be difficult for your friend, given his condition, and he may need some help trying to learn how to deal with clients. But it’s like I said, he can’t make a career out of his talent unless people are willing to pay him to do it. Depending on what media he can work in, he can volunteer his services to maybe do political cartoons for a local newspaper or a mural for a new restaurant that’s opening up.
In the meantime, there’s always the internet. Sure, it may not pay much or anything at all, but it is a useful tool for an artist to get his work out there for people to see. If he hasn’t already, I would highly suggest your friend at least get a Tumblr account and share some of his work on it. He can make some fan art of his favorite characters (I reblog that kind of shit all the time), or even make something completely new and original. I imagine that Tumblr can do for him what Twitter has done for me. As a writer, I’ve really managed to use my Twitter account as a legitimate creative outlet. Can I really write something in 140 characters that people would actually want to read? Luckily, people on the internet are always willing to give you their opinion (whether you want them to or not). My Twitter may not make me any money, but it has definitely helped me find my voice as a writer and has taught me how to tighten up my joke writing into more concentrated, digestible bits. I’d venture to say that your friend can find something similar with an online community. He can get feedback, get his name out there, and even build an audience. More importantly, though, he can refine his artistic voice. Besides, the internet has a strange way of connecting people who can genuinely benefit one another. Will and I have already had those moments where subscribers and fans have helped us with real-world stuff. So who knows? He has nothing to lose but time.
Finally, I can’t really speak about how to go about treating Aspergers, but I can offer one piece of advice I learned from growing up with a Sensory Processing Disorder. People can never grow while they are inside their comfort zone. This goes for everyone, not just for people with some sort of condition. The only thing that separates someone with a disorder from the rest of the population is that they have to work hard to appear “normal” (what is “normal” anyway?). Believe it or not, I used to be incredibly anxious around people and be really socially awkward. It was only through pushing myself to interact with other people that I finally learned how to function. I’m not exactly sure how viable an option this is for your friend, but it is something that I encourage you guys to try if at all possible. I still have my quirks, but I am much better off now that I did force myself to try new things. Hell, if I hadn’t, I probably never would have met Will!
I hope that this can help you guys at least a little bit. Best of luck to both of you and be sure to take care of yourselves!