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What Is Self-Taught Art Called

Creating art is not just restricted to those with formal training in the art. Self-taught art is an entirely unique form of expression, and is often created by those with a deep passion for their craft.

From exceptional visual artists to brilliant sculptors, this article will explore the meaning of self-taught art, its major influences, benefits, drawbacks, and finally conclude with what self-taught artwork is typically referred to.

What is Self-Taught Art?

Self-taught art is artwork that has been created without formal schooling and instruction. This could mean either the artist themselves have chosen to pursue their passion without the help of a college, university or art education, or a person who develops their talents through personal pursuits away from the classroom. The style of self-taught art is broad and varied, as the artist is typically only influenced by their personal intuitive vision and style.

Many of these artists also have no interest in being judged or criticized by others, so it is common for them to not seek out feedback and critique. Self-taught artists are often less concerned with what critics deem “good” or “bad” in terms of technique, and the focus is more about capturing and expressing their unique emotional and creative ideas.

This form of art is often thought of as being experimental and fluid, as the artist is in charge of their own development and growth, which can lead to incredibly exciting and unique works of art.

Influences of Self-Taught Art

In many cases, self-taught art is heavily driven by past visual or emotional experiences in the artist’s life. For example, a self-taught painter drawn to landscapes may have grown up in the countryside surrounded by rolling hills and distant mountains, and the visual aesthetic of this place can be seen in the painter’s works.

Emotional experiences play a large role too, as an artist will often use their art to express the feelings of an intense life event. This allows them to use their art to make sense of a sometimes chaotic world. Self-taught art can also be heavily influenced by the artist’s interests, such as political movements and campaigns, civil rights, or social issues.

This allows for their work to gain a great deal of depth and perspective, allowing the artist to raise awareness through their craft.

Benefits of Self-Taught Art

Self-taught art has significant benefits to both the artist and the world of art. Firstly, without the confines of a structured visual arts education, the artist is able to be more creative and take risks that they might not have had the courage to do. Secondly, since innovation is a key focus of self-taught art, most of these works stand out as being original and interesting.

This can lead to a wide range of jobs and opportunities within the field of art, such as shows and exhibitions, creating artwork for television and film, as well as in art galleries or online.

Drawbacks of Self-Taught Art

As self-taught art is typically created without the feedback from other professionals in the industry, there is a greater chance for the artist to fall into the pitfalls of self-criticism and doubt. This is made worse by the lack of advice and guidance, which often scatters an artist’s focus and diminishes their inspiration. Another common problem associated with self-taught art is the lack of guidance when it comes to the technical aspects, such as correct techniques and tools, colors, and finishes, which can lead to a lack of overall sophistication in the finished artwork.

What is Self-Taught Art Called?

Self-taught art is usually referred to as ‘outsider’, ‘visionary’, or ‘intuitive’ art. This is because the artist is creating their work outside of the confines of a formal education, and they are not influenced by outside judgments or the opinions of traditional art critics.

The term ‘outsider art’ is given to self-taught artists who create visual art outside of the mainstream. This art is often created from the soul, and is often highly emotive and experimental. ‘Visionary’ art is artwork that is often created with a specific idea or message in mind, or as an exploration or projection of the artist’s inner thoughts and imagination.

The term ‘intuitive’ art is to label artwork that has been created with no structure or plan, and the artist has put their trust in instinct and emotion to guide them. As self-taught art is created from the inner mind and is ultimately expressed through a visual form, this label celebrates the art’s uniqueness and individuality.


Self-taught art is an incredible and powerful expression of creativity, and its continuing presence in the creative arts industry is inspirational. It provides a way for those with a true passion for art to create their own voices, allowing the artist to express their thoughts and feelings without the need for external pressures or instruction. Self-taught art is typically called ‘outsider’, ‘visionary’, or ‘intuitive’ art since the artist is creating their work outside of the mainstream arts scene.

Whatever self-taught art is labelled, it is no less impactful and emotive than artwork created from those with a formal art education.

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