Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None

Photo by Kleigh Balugo

By Kleigh Balugo

It is common practice to take on new hobbies or learn new things in honor of the new year. Personally, I have never been one to wait around for the new year to try something different. 

Since I was little, I have always been interested in art and making things. This manifested itself in plenty of different short-lived mediums, most of which my mom now regrets supporting me in. I would make polymer clay charms, sew felt plushies, or make duct tape wallets. Think of a craft tutorial from early YouTube, I’ve probably seen it.

After tons of trips to the craft store and screenshots of Michael’s coupons on my iPod touch, I could never seem to pick my favorite medium. When I was younger I didn’t really think of this as a bad thing. I just liked making things and learning how to make things. 

However, as I got older, I realized that most artists had a medium they were most comfortable with, something they would spend most of their time perfecting. I never considered myself an “artist,” though. I rarely put my work on display and I really only saw making art as something to do in my free time. So, maybe I didn’t need to pick one thing. 

I have the same exact problem now. Recently I’ve gotten into making jewelry, shooting film, and lino cutting. But I don’t see myself particularly excelling or putting all of my time into one pursuit. I suddenly get the inspiration to do something, I try to teach myself how to do it, and I do it. Maybe not getting it perfect on the first try, but that usually isn’t my concern.

When I started attending an art school I became completely inspired by my peers. Although I’m a liberal arts major I took every opportunity to sign up for different art classes I’m interested in. 

The real epiphany came to me in my zine making class. My professor asked everyone to write a list of their skills, both digital and physical, so we could help our peers in different aspects of making zines. 

She found this fitting, as the students in this elective class were a mixed bag of different majors. The illustration majors knew how to use Adobe Illustrator, the photography majors knew all of the camera settings, and graphic design majors knew how to use all of the fancy printers.

I was conflicted because I knew how to make a necklace, sculpt a small dish, and put film into a point and shoot camera. But, to me, that didn’t seem like useful skills to such developed artists. 

Maybe it’s a bit cliche, but that skill share exercise taught me a lot about making art in general. Everyone had mediums they were familiar with and mediums that they had never tried before. So maybe I do spend too much money at Michael’s on projects I forget about in a few months, but I guess that just means I haven’t found my craft yet. 

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