Research at Penn State: Are artists born or taught?

Artists are both born and taught, says Nancy Locke, associate professor of art history at Penn State. “There is no question in my mind that artists are born,” says Locke. Many artists arrive in the world brimming with passion and natural creativity and become artists after trying other vocations.” Artists are also made, she says. They require training, education and a culture of other artists, often an urban culture, says Locke. “Put an artist in isolation and nobody can learn anything from the work.” A craftsman masters a skill, but an artist ventures beyond to innovate. “Artists have to be in touch with other artists, building on what other artists have done,” says Locke. Artists must learn a tradition to challenge it, so artists are products of their times and context, both artistic and social, she adds. Like natural talent, the vision is innate. Yet the way that vision comes to fruition depends upon the artist’s time and place, the surrounding artistic tradition, training and life experience. (via)

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