The Useful Skills of the Non-Artist

-written by Hearth Member, Ryan Bonaparte


  • a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.
  • a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.
  • a person skilled at a particular task or occupation.

Artists are by definition a very skilled group of people. They’ve found ways, through education and practice, to develop a very specific skill that they then use to bring their creatives to life. It’s a wonderful process to observe, and something that cannot be undervalued.

However, as with any expert, there is only enough time in the day to focus on a limited number of pursuits. Choosing one activity to dive into inevitably results in dozens of others left unlearned. For every hour spent perfecting a brush stroke, that’s an hour not spent learning to market work. For every hour spent reaching for that perfect note, that’s an hour not spent learning the ins and outs of accounting. For every hour spent designing a beautiful outdoor landscape, leaves an hour not spent learning the inner workings of the local political scene.

There’s nothing wrong with a focus on developing an art, as it’s a necessary function of becoming an artist. But an artist can’t do it all on their own.

That’s where someone who is focused outside of the arts can be of service. Artists many times operate their work as a business, and have many of the same issues that any small business runs into. It could inventory control, advertising and marketing ideas, accounting and tax dilemmas, or general business counseling. What may seem like a routine daily task in your job, might in fact be an in-demand skill for the artists in your life as they build beyond the art they create and into running and managing a business.

Separate from their business, artists can also rely on the work of others for assistance in their daily lives. Know how to help with household items like plumbing and electrical work? You could be a lifesaver for a struggling artist who doesn’t have the funds to pay the going market rate.

And then there are the skills that aren’t as visible, but no less important to an artist. Perhaps you’ve got a great listening ear, or a kind heart that can help them through the inevitable rough patches that happen during a burgeoning artist’s career.

Whatever the skill, we each have a role to play, a way we can help those artists around them. It could be something small, like when I used my knowledge of electronics to help fix the speaker system at a small event. Or it could be large, such as helping an artist organization incorporate and become a recognized non profit. Big or small, artists can always use help from outside the arts, and those who can provide that aid are always appreciated.

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