Thursday, October 11, 2007

Learning Art Through Apprenticeships

Until only recently—the last 200 years or so—artists learned about their trade and made their name known to art buyers by becoming a famous artist’s apprentice. The artist acted as the teacher and the apprentice was the student. For some, becoming an artist’s apprentice meant they could do a job they loved and earn enough money for their families to live. Others never became artists, either because they weren’t talented enough, or did not please the artist they were supposed to be learning from.

A new artist’s apprentice would do tasks that were not even related to art, such as cleaning the studio. Eventually, he would be allowed to clean the paintbrushes and help mix paints. After several years of these tasks, if the artist liked the apprentice enough and thought he had enough talent, the artist would let him work along side him. Sometimes the apprentice would get good enough and become well known enough to be an artist himself, with his own apprentices.

Today, anyone can be an artist. Anyone who wants to can go to school to learn art. Though art apprenticeships still exist, they are different than those of the past. They do not involve years of cleaning another artist’s studio.

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