What It Means To Be An Artist

This post is going to be about what I think shows the world what it means to be an artist… Or shall I say, an art student. Now that school is in full swing, I can tell you honestly that being an art student has got to be the most challenging thing you can choose to do. Maybe I am bias, but if you are an art student or have been an art student in the past, you will relate to the list of reasons below. However, being an art student isn’t always tough. After putting in hard work and creativity into a single project, It can be the most rewarding thing as well. In this post I talk about the struggles artists, including myself, have to go through daily. Maybe you get a laugh out of what you see and become an artist yourself, who knows.


First, this isn’t just an art student thing, but I want to make clear to everyone that college squirrels are not the same as normal squirrels! I know that sounds crazy, but if anyone from IUPUI & Herron reads this they will agree with me! Let me explain… My campus is very beautiful with landscaping that is spot on with plenty of trees and places for squirrels to get food to survive on their own. Despite this, over the years students have fed the squirrels on campus actual food and now they expect something from everyone. The downfall here is that if you don’t give them what they want they will chase you and/or throw nuts at you. I Am Not Kidding. Here is personal proof that happened to me on the bike ride home a few weeks back.

A lone acorn that was launched at me by one of the daring squirrels.

Being a student you have to bring to class the standard materials like notebook paper and #2 pencils, but being an art student you have so much more. Depending on the classes you are in, this could mean a variety of pencils, paint, markers, ink pens, etc. With the amount of supplies you are expected to bring to class, it is recommended you use a tackle box to carry it all in. Yeah you could try to put it all in your back pack, but that could turn into a disaster. So here you are toting around this bulky, over-sized crayon box with people who aren’t artists asking you if you are going fishing.

This is what it came with and how it looked before I began using it…. So clean and organized. Ha.

Not only are you required to bring to class all of your drawing supplies, but you are expected to bring every sketchbook you have just in case your professor is feeling more on the 18″ x 24″ side rather than the 8.5″ x 11″ side they had listed on the syllabus. With that, it is highly recommended that you get a portfolio to hold your sketchbooks & drawing board in. Yes, it is easier to carry your stuff in a portfolio and tackle box to class, but no it is not convenient for you whatsoever. I envy the non-art students and long for the days all I need to bring to class can fit in my back pack. Ha.

Here is what I carry in my portfolio for class!

Being an art student can be so messy. This can be fun, but it’s not always enjoyable when you walk around campus with charcoal smeared on your forehead without realizing it until a stranger lets you know. With certain materials, like charcoal, you have to be a little extra careful to avoid ruining or smudging your project and that can be irritating. Also, being in classes like painting, ceramics, and drawing means you probably shouldn’t wear nice clothing, which is why most students in art school look like bums everyday.

We were working with charcoal drawing still life in this picture. I had charcoal everywhere.

As an art student, you definitely have your work cut out for you, but it’s not always hard! Being an artist is also very rewarding! The feeling you get when you get a good grade on a project you put so much work into feels like you got first place in a marathon. Being able to see your growth as an artist and show others your personality through a piece of work can be so satisfying. Not to mention, getting your hands dirty in class is loads of fun when you think about how other students are stuck in a lecture hall somewhere else.

To end this post, being an artist means that you have to be willing to take risks with your work without being afraid of what you might run into (like all of the challenges listed above). Art doesn’t have to be about chasing the approval from others on how your artwork looks. It should be about creating artwork from your own thoughts and emotions that you as an individual find valuable. They didn’t coin the term “abstract” to describe unique work for nothing. 🙂