The Art of Mirriam Neal

what not to say to an artist

IMG_2075my imagining of hawkeye, commission

“You’re so lucky you can draw.”

I’ve been drawing like mad lately, and one of the frequent responses I get (from the most well-intentioned of people) is, “Wow, you draw so well…you’re so lucky!” At that point, the compliment goes from – well, complimentary to irritating. It isn’t the person irritating me, it’s the phrasing. Because let me tell you something – there is no luck involved. I was born with the desire to draw, but I didn’t come out of the womb as an art prodigy. I can draw well now because I’ve logged in thousands and thousands of hours hunched over paper with crayons, pens, and pencils in my hand. I’ve scribbled on napkins, white boards, my arm. My hands have been covered in ink and lead and graphite. I’ve thrown away more drawings than I’ve kept. I’ve continued to draw even when I feel all my skill has been sucked out of me.

I don’t put much stock in talent. Loads of people have it. The thing is, if you don’t improve in your talent, it’s worth diddly squat. So please, for the love of all that is good and green in this world, don’t tell an artist they’re lucky they can draw. You might get attacked with a permanent marker.

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