Hello Ranting!

I can promise a few things in this post: 1) this is completely a rant. 2) I don’t even know my stance on this topic at all. So I will most likely make no point whatsoever. And 3) I will absolutely contradict myself several times.

I was recently out with a group of creative people (both were moms, and one with a background in marketing), and we were discussing art, and how social media has taken away some of the power that artists have. We were chit chatting about the fact that artists go to school for their craft, and take ridiculously long studio classes, and spend hours after class in that studio refining their skills, while others who surf social media sites can do a DIY with no training whatsoever. So, I brought up the subject that I felt that the tutorials out there might make people less creative. To which one of the moms replied, “But maybe it makes them more creative.” I was fairly content with that argument. In that moment it seemed to make a lot of sense. “Hmmm. Maybe tutorials make kids and adults more creative because they can complete various projects in a short amount of time,” I thought to myself.

And then I merrily went off to work, not really bothering to think about this at all. And then a thought struck me. “But then if all they’re doing is following along, does that make them creative or just really good at listening to directions?” I feel like there is some detriment to only learning how to do things online or even a book. Before that, you learned from real interaction from a parent, or teacher, or experienced crafter, or whoever. Someone real and tangible with flesh and blood, and someone to whom you could ask your questions and get a reply. You could see the craft being made in all dimensions, not just one and only at that camera angle. Or you simply had to figure it out for yourself through trial and error.

That kind of interaction and experience makes for a more creative person in my mind. You know what doesn’t work. And you have the benefit of knowing why. So you can apply that knowledge to future projects. Just following some tutorial only gives you the knowledge of what does work. And then what happens when you need to apply that skill to another project or you need to deviate slightly. Would you know how to do that?

But then again, I sometimes go surfing the net because I lack inspiration, or I want to try something new, and then I’m totally guilty of following a tutorial! But does that make it okay because I’ve paid my dues painstakingly trying to figure out a craft for myself? But can I really give any less credit to the DIYer? Technically, if they’ve spent as many hours watching tutorials as I have going to school for art then aren’t they considered as experienced as I am?

I continued my day with thoughts reeling through my brain, not really coming up with any final answer at all. See? I promised my story had no point and several contradictions. I guess my main goal was to get you thinking, and see what you do indeed think. And I guess also, to maybe close the lid on the laptop the next time you try a craft, and see if you can figure it out first. It will surely give your mind and hands a workout, and you’ll feel such a sense of pride that not only did you succeed in making a cool craft, but at the fact that you figured out how to do it all by yourself.


Author: hellokidsart

The Messy Artist is a special place to create art. We offer year-round art classes for children 18 months through adulthood. In addition to art classes from September through June, we offer summer art camp and Drop-In and Play art activities for kids between our regular sessions. Our bright, colorful studio is also the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party! The Messy Artist children’s art center was created and designed by Owner/Director Donna Bernstein, a professional educator and artist. The curriculum is inspired and guided by Donna’s teaching experience and research in child development, as well as her passion for art. At The Messy Artist, art lessons for kids entertain and enrich their brains, bodies, and hearts.

2 thoughts on “Hello Ranting!”

  1. Awesome outlook on the changing times of how people are learning! Hopefully kids don’t get lose creativity from these tutorial assignments.

  2. Great rant! I’m an external thinker, so I always value the rants of others.

    Some people, and I’m thinking parents/grandparents/etc, aren’t interested in the inspiration side of it, but they know they want to offer an opportunity for their children (or those in their care) to experiment with art and art materials. The tutorials can provide a plan, a starting point for adults to present an opportunity, where if there were no tutorials or DIYs available, they may not have enough motivation to do it all. Again, I’m thinking about the adults I know that are not artistically inclined or have any interest in it. To me, an adult can personally not have a strong interest, but still offer kids an opportunity to explore, since they are still learning and growing and changing. They need exposure to new ideas. BUT, and perhaps this is message to spread, the plan or tutorial is a starting place for the child, not where they should end up. This takes restraint on the part of the adult! I know from experience. I love art and couldn’t wait for my first born to be old enough to create things with me. From the very first few forays into drawing, painting, etc., he was a “do it my way” kid. It drove me crazy at first. I don’t know why. Maybe I needed the boundaries or something. He’s five now and he continues to amaze me with the ways he sees things, and solves problems. He seems incapable of accepting obstacles, literally mixing different sets of building toys: recently it was Brio Creative Builder set and the Brackitz for those plank blocks. I would never have made that leap in my mind. Children amaze me.

    I’m babbling on, but I hope I’ve made sense. One last example: I bought a craft kit, where you use strips of tape on partially finished background paper to create different scenes. The first thing my son did was to fold the city scene where the road met the buildings, to make it 3-D, and grabbed a few matchbox cars to drive along. The next time we brought the kit out, he promptly turned the preset background paper over and used the back to make his own tape creations. I’ve said it a million times: why do I both with toys? He’d be happy with masking tape, sharpies and printer paper. Cheers!

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