Do you ever feel lost or isolated in your art making endeavors? Or perhaps have you wished that you had access to insider knowledge and expertise that is beyond your reach? Maybe you have hobby ideas, but you are not sure how to take the next step.
Consider what it would be like to have someone who could personally assist you with your individual art making needs.
Since there is no clear and easy trajectory in the visual arts realm, it can be particularly useful to have a mentor. If you are someone who feels that they may benefit from having support, encouragement, and insight to help you accomplish your artistic dreams, you may be interested in learning more about mentorship including what it is, what forms it can take, why it is important, how it works, how to find a mentor, and ways to implement it into the creative process.
What Is Mentorship?
You might be wondering, what is a mentor? And what exactly do they do? A mentor is someone who is more experienced who shares their knowledge and assists someone less experienced in reaching their potential.
The role is multifaceted and is one in which the mentor acts as a tutor, a guide, and a coach. The relationship is professional and personal and is individually catered to the mentee’s needs.
Having a mentor can be a tremendous advantage when it comes to achieving one’s creative goals.
Mentorship in history and current times
Mentorship is not a new concept. It has existed throughout history and continues to this day. Successful people understand that no one accomplishes great things entirely by themselves. Every acclaimed artist has had at least one person who helped them fulfill their ambitions along the way.
You, too, can have someone to help you reach new heights. A mentorship can significantly impact your progress and positively add a whole new level of enrichment to your art making experience.
Looking back to the time of the Renaissance, mentorships were classified as apprenticeships. Even master artists who we hold with the highest esteem once depended upon someone more experienced to train them, support them, and serve as their guide.
For instance, one of the most revered artists of all time, Leonardo Da Vinci, was mentored by the Italian artist Andrea del Verrocchio (pictured below left).
In modern times some examples of famous mentorships includes Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter, Camille Pissarro who mentored Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, Pop Artist Andy Warhol who mentored Street Artist and Neo-Expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Realist Artist Andrew Wyeth who mentored American Realist Painter Bo Bartlett.
These are just a few of many examples of mentorships in the art field. It is natural for artists to be influenced by those who came before them. These artists acquired expertise from their forerunners and in time passed it along to their successors.
One thing we can learn from them is that there is no shame in finding someone to inspire you to become your best self. If anything it will make you stand out among the crowd and give you a sense of mastery that you can in turn pass along to the next generation.
What Forms Mentorship Can Take
If you are interested in learning more about art mentorship, you might be wondering what it can involve. The following are some of the many offerings a mentor may be able to contribute.
A mentor can provide art tutoring. This can include teaching techniques and skills. For example, a mentor can teach a lesson on how to incorporate the principles of design into artwork. They can demonstrate specific styles and methods of working. An art tutor also caters to your personal needs and offers you extra help in areas in which you have challenges.
In order to help you grow as an artist, a mentor can critique your artwork. They can offer feedback with suggestions for improvements. In addition, they can teach you how to accept constructive criticism and use it to your advantage. Also, a mentor can teach you how to ask for feedback.
Cultivating your unique expression
A mentor can help you to discover your strengths and teach you how to build upon them. They can tune in to your vision and support you in finding and cultivating your unique voice.
Supporting and encouraging your development
Perhaps one of the most important roles a mentor can play is to offer support and encouragement. When you experience setbacks and disappointments, which are bound to happen to everyone at some point, a mentor can be there to coach you and cheer you on. They can help you to build your confidence and to get inspired again. If you struggle with internal motivation, they can also serve as an accountability buddy to keep you on track. In addition, when you have triumphs, they can be there to celebrate alongside you.
Speaking and writing about art
A mentor can familiarize you with artistic terms and define them for you with examples. They can also help you learn how to speak intelligently about your art. Furthermore, they can assist you with writing an artist statement and biography.
Advising with career and business matters
For budding artists interested in turning their hobby into a business, a mentor who is a professional artist can offer practical help when it comes to learning about the business side of art. For instance, they can teach you how to create a CV and/or resume, price you work, approach galleries, build a cohesive series, photograph artwork, and much more.
Why Mentorship Is Important
Art mentorship has many benefits. It is important for numerous reasons including, but not limited to, the following:
Getting better at art
One of the best advantages of working with a mentor is that they can help you to improve as an artist. A mentor can teach you how to refine the quality of your craftsmanship to help you to get better at art. Additionally they can teach you standards of excellence that you can incorporate into your work to make it look more professional.
Making your art more interesting
Another significant reward of working with a mentor is that they can help you to make your art more interesting. By offering you different perspectives to consider, it can open you up to new ideas. According to your personal preferences, you can incorporate their feedback into your work to make it more compelling.
Working under a mentor can significantly speed up your progress so that you can improve art quickly. You don’t have to waste precious time with pitfalls that they can help you to prevent. Moreover, a mentor can teach you how to achieve better results in a shorter amount of time by sharing more efficient ways of working.
Being part of a community
One of the most enriching parts of working with a mentor is making a connection with a like-minded individual.
People are social creatures, and we thrive with human relationships. Art is often a solitary process, and it can get lonely at times. Having the camaraderie of working alongside an experienced artist can fulfill the need for social support. Having a mentor gives you a sense of connection to something larger than yourself.
On top of that, they can offer empathy and understanding since they have likely experienced similar challenges and successes in their art career.
Learning about other artists and resources
Your mentor can expose you to artists from the past and present whose work may inspire you. In addition, they can inform you about art resources they have discovered over the years.
Also, they may also be able to help you network with others and possibly even introduce you to other professionals in the arena. It is greatly beneficial to explore to a wide variety of art to expand your understanding of the field.
Getting references and letters of recommendation
A mentor can help by giving you a reference or letter of recommendation when you are interested in applying for different opportunities. This could include a school program, a juried art show, a residency, a job position, and so on.
Also, they can also write a reference if you want to apply for funding through scholarships and grants. They can speak about your work ethic, your experience with creating, and your character.
Learning new skills
Mentors can introduce you to new methods of working that you may not ever discover on your own. This can help you to expand your repertoire. For instance, they can teach you drawing skills and techniques, which are the foundation to many types of art.
How to Find An Artist Mentor You Can Trust
When you commit to finding your artist mentor, it would be worthwhile to put some careful thought into it. You will want to find someone who is skilled and able to explain that knowledge to you. You will want them to be trustworthy, generous, and have your best interest in mind as well.
In order for it to be a good match and for you to get the most out of the experience, do some prep work and research to determine compatibility.
Looking for an art mentor
Websites such as Wyzant can help you connect with professional tutors you can hire as a mentors. Use the filter tool to select your preferences in terms of subject, lesson type (online or in-person), rate, availability, age, student level, and more.
An online art mentorship is a great option for many people in this day and age. It allows you to have more choices, so you can find the best fit. It also can be convenient to take lessons online.
Connect with an art tutor today
A great way to find out information about a potential mentor is to view their ratings and read the reviews on their profile page. This can help you to determine how other people rated the quality of their services. It can give you an idea of what you might expect from working with them. In turn, it allows you to narrow down your choices and to find the best match for you.
Researching their teaching and art style
Furthermore, you will want to read a potential mentor’s profile thoroughly to see if it sparks your interest. While reading, make a note of certain aspects that appeal to you such as their experience, specialties, and education. Take a look at their art if they have pictures of it available, and determine if you find it to be appealing. You can send them a message and ask any additional questions that you have.
Trying out a session and evaluating if it is a good fit
Once you have found someone who seems like a good fit, sign up for an initial appointment. Spend time preparing before your first lesson, so you get the most out of it. I suggest using some of the time in your first session to informally interview them to see if they are indeed a good fit for you.
Ask questions to see if they can help with your specific needs since each mentor has their own working style and areas of expertise. Write a list of your top priorities, and share them during your session.
How Mentorship Works
Once you have decided upon a mentor, the following is what you should plan to expect from your working relationship.
Scheduling regular meeting times
To keep your momentum going and to set a routine, it is ideal to schedule a regular meeting time. You may choose to meet any at any interval ranging from once a month to twice a week, more or less depending upon your goals and needs. Discuss with your mentor how often you would like to meet and how long for each session. One hour is typically a good amount of time to meet with a mentor, but you could meet for more or less time if that suits your preferences and needs.
Setting goals and evaluating progress
A mentor can help you to define your goals. Then, they can assist you in breaking them down into micro steps to make them more attainable. Your mentor can help you to track your goals and to evaluate your progress. On top of that, they can also help you with planning and structuring your time.
Having assignments outside of meeting times
It may be helpful for you to have set “assignments” to work on in between sessions. Your mentor can then serve as an accountability buddy to make sure that you are fulfilling your work. At each session you could review the prior work you completed and then proceed to talk about upcoming work.
Asking questions and being open to feedback
You should feel comfortable asking your mentor questions that come up, and be open to their feedback. Remember that this working relationship is catered to your individual wishes. During your sessions, you may work on any number of things as was mentioned earlier. You can have variety of work you do in any given session, but it will always be in service to fulfilling your art making needs.
Ways To Implement Mentorship Into The Creative Process
Art mentors can assist in every stage of the creative process. In the beginning stages, they can help you brainstorm and come up with a concept for a series of work.
Additionally, they can help you to plan your composition and research for your project. This includes offering you resources and sources of inspiration. Once you start creating the work, a mentor can give feedback along the way. Once the work is complete, they can give tips for finishing touches and concepts to keep in mind for your next works.
Then they can also help with instructing you on the process of getting the art ready for display including photographing, framing, and so on. Finally, they can help you with pricing, titling your work, submitting the work to shows, and more. If you desire, they can be there every step of the way assisting you with your needs.
They can help you as little or as much as you want depending upon your preferences.
Reap The Rewards of Mentorship
Whether you are making art as a hobby or as a career, it would benefit you to have a mentor. It will enrich your experience and improve your artwork. In addition, it opens you up to new ideas and approaches that have taken others years of study to discover.
Art can be a nebulous field with endless possibilities. Having an art mentor can help you find your way and succeed while enjoying the process. Establishing an alliance with a mentor is a gift. The relationship is a connection you make with not only the contemporary artist community, but also with the ways of the old masters from the history of art.
You can continue this age-old tradition of having a gratifying partnership that is as equally fulfilling for the mentor as it is for you. So, why not look for your art mentor and start to realize your creative dreams today?