How Do You Make a Drawing a Piece of Art?

Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

What makes a drawing a piece of art?

What makes splotches of paint on a canvas artwork?

What makes snippets of recorded scenes a masterpiece?

To make a piece of art—a strong piece of art—there has to be an idea. It has to be communicating something, saying something. You could be a technical master and able to paint the human anatomy in perfect realistic detail, but if there’s no idea behind it, then is it really art? To me, the idea is king, and the idea should be the focus in artmaking. Not how anatomically-correct you can draw the human body.


Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

The Focus of Artmaking

There are thousands of tutorials on how to master your craft: how to draw a horse, how to paint fluffy clouds…But what about a tutorial on how to find the ideas that are meaningful to us? And how to use those ideas to inject our emotions, our feelings, and our unique voice into our work? These are the questions I’ve been thinking about, researching, and exploring since I began drawing. Instead of focusing so much on technical prowess, I hope to encourage you to focus on the emotional and intellectual investment in your work.

I hope to help you approach drawing differently. Through doing that, you’ll be able to take your art to the next level, gain the confidence to step beyond studying technical craft, and start developing ideas to make the art that’s meaningful to you.


Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

Mimesis (mim-ee-sis) vs. Feelings

According Wikipedia, the definition of art is:

“Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.

Keep reading, and it states: Art may be characterized in terms of mimesis (its representation of reality), expression, communication of emotion, or other qualities.”

Mimesis! The representation of reality! An exact replica of the world! Why would we bother? We invented cameras for that.

In the world of art, I believe the idea—the interpretation of reality, the expression of self, the communication of feeling—is what elevates a drawing to a piece of art.


Christine Nishiyama, Might Could Studios

The Only Takeaway

So if you don’t get anything else out of reading my articles, seeing my drawings, or listening to me blabber on about whatever obsession I’m currently thinking about, I hope you just take away this one thing:

Drawing well—making art well—isn’t solely about how advanced your technical skills are. A strong piece of art comes from a strong artist with strong ideas.

So invest in being self-aware, present in the world, and always follow your curiosity. When you focus on those things, when you focus on improving the emotional and intellectual strength of your Self, and therefore your drawing, that’s when you’ll really level up as an artist and elevate your drawing to a piece of art.


“I’ve never seen a bad drawing destroy a good idea. On the other hand, I’ve never seen a good drawing save a bad idea.”

Paul Conrad, political cartoonist


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