How I Became an Artist
I feel its important to start with my roots when writing this blog. Every artist has a different story as to why they became an artist or how they became an artist. Given that writing is not my strength-I will try my best here to keep you engaged in my content as I tell my story.
In 1991, my piano teacher quit on me. Offended? no! Funny? yes and relieved! Day after day was I instructed to ‘practice’. I would thump around on the piano with no rhythm or desire to ‘make music’. My brothers and sister were proficient in music so I should be too, right? Wrong!
Later that year, I was to start making choices for Junior High. The choices were music or visual arts. Given my piano teacher sent the message to my parents that music wasn’t in my heart, we decided I’d be the only child in my family to study art. I grew up in a small town in Manitoba. Our art program was weak and it was soon evident that it wasn’t taken seriously by many students.
By grade 10, the art program in my high school was dropped due to budget cuts. My parents who saw my interest in art grow over three years, were pleased that a Mentorship program was starting when I was in grade 11. I was encouraged by my parents to further my studies. Stephen Jackson, my mentor, introduced me to REAL artists and REAL art. I was 16 and unsure of my future as an artist but he had confidence in me.
In grade 12 my high school brought another program, Photoshop, into the school, however it was poorly run through a telecommunications system in another town. There were three computers and six students. We worked together to try and figure out the program as half the time the TV didn’t work or the sound. I managed to learn a little in the process and later in my life learned more skills in photoshop!
In grade 12, my Jr. High art teacher, who saw my interest in art, allowed me to work in the art room during his teaching spare to give me art as a high school credit. I’m forever grateful for my teachers and my mentor for guiding me through the process. My grade 12 English teacher assisted me in writing my initial statement as to why I wanted to study art, my art teacher and my mentor all helped me put together my application to apply for the Bachelor or Art Program at the University of Manitoba. When I received my acceptance letter in 1997 I ran through the halls to tell each teacher of my success. I remember the librarian telling me no running in the halls (oops!)
Never in high school did I smile as big as I did that day. I never felt as much self worth, excitement, and fear for the future as I did that day.
The School of Art was an eye opener. I drew my first nude. I was introduced to art parties. I met people who were into art more than I was. I learned art skills by leaps and bounds in those five years, mostly from my peers.
What did art school teach me? Confidence. Before art school, I had none.
What else did art school teach me? How to critique others as well as my own art.
Why did I study art? It just felt right.
What was my goal of art school? To learn skills to work as a set designer. What? That is an entirely other topic.
What did I end up doing? Starting a collective of artists, then an art center, then working as an keynote speaker, instructor, a facilitator, and a mentor in addition to my own Visual Art practice.
Am I glad I did this! YES! Do I have any regrets? NO!
What am I most thankful for? My mentor, my teachers, my professors and my instructors for not giving up on me despite my uncertainty and my lack of confidence.
Thank you for reading…!
Jordan Miller, Visual Artist & Art Consultant