Now, I'm sure what I'm saying here might ruffle a few feathers. It's easy to split hairs regarding the use of this term, and there's a certain sense of pride in calling oneself "self-taught". I totally get it! There's often no formal training to learn to knit or paint or draw or use a camera. I'm not discounting that there is a great deal of personal dedication required to learn a skill without a formal educational system to push and reward us as students. We don't have papers to turn in, tests to take, and our efforts are not assigned grades by which we can gauge our successes and failures. We should, as creative souls, be proud of our accomplishments but, in doing so, should not forget those from whom we've gleaned even the smallest enrichment during our creative journeys.
And I'm not saying that there maybe isn't someone out there in the world who truly did learn and improve their skills without those resources I mentioned above. There are clearly a few creative savants in the world who, from birth, hold a degree of talent that can't be learned. But I'm confident in asserting we can all be improved upon and improvement comes often as a result of influence by others.
While I never attended a school to learn to wire wrap, to draw, or to take a passable portrait of my cat, I watched endless videos, purchased tutorials (thank you Eni Oken, IMNIUM, Lonely Soldier Designs, Iza Malczyk, to name a few), scrolled through many a DIY magazine at my local craft store, and joined creative communities where I could ask questions and explore possibilities. I would not be where I am without the influence and work of others and, therefore, couldn't confidently (nor honestly) call myself "self-taught".
But let's split hairs (because I know a few are probably dying to do so). Self-taught is defined as "having acquired knowledge or skill on one's own initiative rather than through formal instruction or training" and, as such, implies that many of us creatives would fall within these parameters. But this also implies that we learn without the help or aid of teachers. This, to me, ignores the influence of talented souls we meet and who inspire us to be better. What are those individuals who provide us with videos, articles and lessons if not our teachers? Without these influences, I'm not sure I'd have had that initiative to explore my talents and improve upon them. Please keep in mind, this is my perception of the term and I how I chose to personally relate to it, and I understand others may not agree. But it doesn't fill my heart with joy to congratulate myself on my successes without recognizing the work others have done to help pave my way.
So no, I am not a "self-taught" artist. I am a self-learner. I take the initiative to read those articles, watch those videos, try those lessons all in an effort to improve my skills. But those resources are provided by teachers. And I intend to express how grateful I am for the gifts they've given me, and that I am eternally, thankfully, their student.
But, no matter how you learn, or how you define your journey and your successes, I wish you all one important thing..... a long, creative life!
9/18/2018 11:53:05 pm
Well said! I agree and applaud you!
9/24/2018 03:36:26 pm
Yes, I'm a self-learner and very thankful to all the generous souls who share "how to" with me. Thank you, Nicole, for all your teaching. I am learning a great deal of "how to" from you and it is very much appreciated!
10/2/2018 07:58:54 am
thank you. I have never felt happy saying, "self taught", though I don't have an official qualification in jewellery and so also felt "less than". However it is true that I seek to learn and impliment wherever possible and it is very true, we learn much, even if there isn't a certificate at the end to please others. Thank you for all your teaching, in your blogs and your tutorials.
10/2/2018 09:17:23 am
My mother dubbed me a "Perpetual Student" because I was forever taking 'extra' classes. I would even go to summer school to take the classes I couldn't fit into my academic schedule. To this day my year begins in September. My attention span lasts at least 10 years, then I start to look for something new and different. I've taken classes from Accounting to Zen Meditation, and only disliked Jazzercise. I am definitely not 'self-taught', but self-motivated.
10/2/2018 12:13:23 pm
I was just thinking about how your monthly treasure hunt has helped me! working through these tutorials as well as your and others YouTube videos has enriched me in another facet of jewelry making. I will probably not make many strictly wireweaving pieces as I am more intrigued by mixing it with other methods and materials once I have mastered the craft. Thank you for your generosity in both your blogs and tutorials!
10/2/2018 05:41:05 pm
Hello Nicole, I agree with you wholeheartedly! I consider myself an active participant in lifelong learning rather self taught. With the gracious generosity of so many talented artists like yourself I have learned and accomplished so much. Thank you for your wonderful tutorials, you are such an amazing talent. All the very best.
11/5/2018 06:29:08 am
Thank you Hanna, well said. I have always preferred to think of myself as a perpetual student thirsty to learn new techniques and learn ways to do things from others as well as my own creative process. For me the process of creating is also a learning from others, by books, tutorials, magazine, classes & other artists and is the most enjoyable part of the creative journey to me.
12/4/2018 08:48:42 am
Thank you for your wide range of influence, because i have learned so much from your tutorials and your blogs. You have broaden my views of other artist also, there is so many talented artists. I am a self learner and love turorials and YouTube.
12/31/2018 05:56:48 pm
Your right. I think of myself as "self taught"but I will have to rethink how I word that now. Thank you for setting me straight!! Happy New year my friend.
1/2/2019 03:25:29 am
I totally agree with you, Nicole, and I think that, and this is just my own feelings on this😊, when you're wanting to "promote" yourself as a jewelry designing & creating business, I really don't feel that labeling yourself as "self-taught" is a good idea. It may boost your ego, but, if one is truly "self-taught", I think it would also sends a message that your experience has been limited to only what your single creative mind has come up with and tried. There is so much we have and can learn from other artisans, and their contribution to our growth is usually grossly downplayed😕. I love seeing, learning, and growing in my jewelry making, and that learning never ends.
1/22/2019 10:03:07 pm
I will say that I was self taught up until the videos started to come out (Basically before the net was even a thing, boy that makes me old) But after that I have been improving with the help of others and learning new things. I don't know if I can even keep the title of self taught anymore. So maybe self improve-er? :)
Thanks for this. You are right I am a self-learner. People often ask me mr how I learnt my wire and macrame skills and I have said self taught by YouTube. But these video “tutorials” are lessons. Thanks for being one of my biggest inspirations. I have bought so many of your tutorials, and can pick your designs out on Pinterest, as they are so distinctive.
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