A Guide to Using Art as Self-Expression


Art is a meaningful tool to uncover people’s deepest emotions: happiness, fears, sadness, and anger. It is a form to visually represent what is within someone in an aesthetic and visual manner. Although art is subjective, it is factual that it has different forms to be categorized, these include graphic, visual, plastic, decorative, and architecture. Each of these have different features that determines their uniqueness. Many argue that one must possess its techniques in order to be an artist. Although the practice is crucial, it is not the main aspect of practicing art: when reflecting on oneself, one can see life itself is an art, and being alive makes each person an artist. Each person lives life through their own perspective, it makes them experience and interpret reality subjectively. Such fact fortunately generates the possibility to find a way to represent their uniqueness, and art is the perfect tool to reach such achievement.  Throughout this article, there will be valuable tips for those aspiring to dig deeper their personas and exteriorize it beautifully.

1. Be true to yourself

Self-awareness is a concept that was first defined by Shelley Duval and Richard Wicklund in their 1972 book, A Theory of Objective Self-Awareness. From the book’s definition, people should focus their attention inwardly to have a better comprehension of their emotions and reasons. To produce art, the presence of the former state of mind is a key element for an artist’s personality, because it allows a profound comprehension, acceptance, and connection to their true self, which unfortunately seems to be a scarce trait among people. In addition, it is important to be known that self-awareness is not a born trait, but rather a state of mind that can be reached through constant reflection and aimed self-improvement, it is crucial to understand self first and express it. There are daily habits that could increase self-awareness. These include: thinking before speaking, reflecting more often about its thinking patterns, to listen attentively to self and others, and to aim for wisdom.

2. Add a purpose to the art you produce.

After a person is more connected to themselves, it is necessary to target one of the types of art mentioned before and work to add a deeper meaning to it. It must not be obvious, it must make the viewer contemplate the art they are looking at, reading, or listening to. The main reason for such detail is to stimulate people to reflect and understand the artist’s point of view.

Art is a means to express the artist’s imagination, thus the reason to add a purpose behind art is to make the contemplator see the world through their eyes, to reflect about it and to improve the way the world is perceived by the viewer. To exemplify it visually, an example of an artist whose contributions are a match of self-awareness and meaning is Giorgione and his painting The Three Philosophers, created in 1509. 

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The Three Philosophers is an oil on canvas painting during the High Renaissance. From a personal interpretation of the painting, it represents three different men in three different stages of life – youth, middle-age, and elderliness –, the man on the left, holds a compass and stares attentively to the shape of the cave, pointing that at the moment he tries to study the cognizable. The man in the middle has his right foot stepping away from the young man and going to the direction of the elder and has his right hand pointing at him, which symbolizes that he is aiming to become similar to him. The elder on the right holds a mathematical theorem and seems to be lost in thought, if contrasted to the young man, the elder is immeasurably wiser and does not try to understand the cognizable anymore, but rather the unseen: the universe. What is also implied, based on observations, is that these three men are mathematicians and philosophers 

What is curious about Giorgione’s painting is that, if not reflected, these would only be men standing at a cave, however, Giorgione was self-aware to realize these stages of life and to see the correlation of how knowledge and experience shape a person’s view with regards to life and experience and added a deep meaning to represent it through apparently common features.

3. Practice

The last step is obvious: practice makes perfect. If the artist is already connected to their personality and aims at adding a deeper meaning to the art they produce, the technique they use will be the tool in which they would express their uniqueness. Constant practice will make the artist have a better comprehension of different tools and applications to be used in their expressions, be it through literature, visual or audible arts. Practice shall be a great guide to bring light to the art produced.  

Lastly, the person must believe in themselves and constantly self-remind that art is life and life is for everyone. The usage of art as self-expression is an extremely powerful tool to discover what is unique within each individual and to aesthetically present it to the public. Art is a tool to exteriorize what is within, therefore it is crucial to be self-aware, to intentionally add a deeper meaning to its creation and to constantly practice. The overall result will sure be a powerful contribution to society.

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