Shop Talk

RB Artists On… Expertise

In our latest Open Discussion, we asked our RB Blog community if they consider themselves experts, and if so, how did they become such masters of their respective crafts.

As usual, we got some lively comments on the topic. Some of our artists felt that idea of expertise perverts the integrity of the artist, while some felt that if and when one becomes an expert, she ceases to learn. Check out some of the best responses below, and feel free to join the chat in the comment below those!

"Air Guitar!" by rudyfaber

Art and Expertise Don’t Mix


In my opinion being and expert and being an artist doesn’t actually work together. You can be an expert in knowing a particular technology or a method of making art but being and artist asks you lots of creativity and this one is hard to force to work when you want that. It’s just so many ups and down all the time that one day you can feel an expert and another one just a beginner. But once again, it’s just my experience.

Adam Bogusz:

I want my dentist to feel like a “master”
I want my art to venture into the unknown.

Ina Mar:

If I considered myself like “an expert”, I would not feel like an artist any more. Art for me is about exploring the new, about daring, trying to define new languages, new communication means, going further. As soon as one step is taken, it becomes outdated. A soon as one artwork series is created and feels like perfect, the need to create a new one destroys the expertise and beauty of the old one in me. No, I am not an expert and fortunately I will never be one.


I think spending 10,000 hours on a craft can make you an expert in that craft — but the more of a personal style you put into it, the more it’s unique and makes the expertise hard to transfer to others, and also harder to measure / value objectively.

John Cocoris:

the day i start thinking i am an expert at my artwork would be a sad day for me and after 42 years of studying art i would stop painting because it means i have stopped learning my craft and there would be no challenge and the only thing that would be left is to create something different
But i don’t think that would ever happen to me because i believe one lifetime is not enough to learn how to paint art to ones best ability.

"Don't Change" by Emma Hampton

No Way!

David Kennett:

Not an expert at all, but I have learnt over many years how to work with my limitations and mask my inadequacies.

Kevin Exley:

I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself an expert. There are so many talented individuals out there, producing incredible work, and that can only help push you to better things, and create at a higher level.
A friend of mine worked as an illustrator, mainly for magazines, and got jaded when he didn’t feel like he was making any progress artistically. As a result he’s pretty much jacked it in, save for a few bill paying commissions, and is now a plein air painter.
He is now much happier, and get’s a buzz seeing the improvement in his work as time goes on. I feel the same, and so long as I don’t hit a wall and get myself into a rut of complacency, I know I’m going in the right direction.

Kirk Shelton:

I’ll just say, I’m not even close to being an expert. but I’m way more of an expert than the people I’ve worked with who call themselves experts. You can never stop learning.

tori yule:

My creativity and blocks keep me grounded. I have no illusions that I am
an expert. Most artists I know are always learning, willing to learn,
and are trying new techniques. Professionalism is a different story.
“Calling out your expertise is great for your confidence, and helps formalize a sense of self in
work.” It can also fool people into thinking that their expertize
allows them to make invidious remarks, that degrades and humiliates
other artists. When it comes to art, and creativity I think it’s best to
leave your professional masterly status out of the equation.

" Untitled" by sugarsnapped

Being an expert doesn’t mean your should stop learning

Ben Loveday:

I think the question is confusing expertise with professionalism, and also about the nature of talent. I’m a hobbyist photographer, which is deliberate in that I’m not trying to be “professional” about it, but I feel I have some expertise in some areas of it and am somewhat naive in other areas. I have also worked in many other areas of design and art, which feed in knowledge and skills. There is no single ahaha moment, and one is not gifted with it from birth; it is one long learning and experiential process, where one makes progress by doing, learning and being adventurous and trying new things, and persistence,,,,,. In addition I have noticed artists have many and varied goals, so that their processes of learning vary significantly from one another. For example, my goal is conceptual photography, where the emphasis is originality of idea and message, and very refined composition rather than a focus on any particular subject matter: a plastic bag stuck on a fence, a protestor, a dead tree, a gap between buildings, a hole in a truck wheel rim, a weed…it doesn’t really matter to me what is is but rather what can say through a photograph and how I compose the photograph. I’m also a photoshop novice and I have very limited photographic equipment; the make of camera and it’s features are to me: ho hum. Yes, I need a good camera, and if I had more money, yes, I would get a Nikon D800 and a raft of high end lenses, but to me this is the craft of photography, not the art. No, I’m far from the category of “expert” in these technical matters. But in composition I think I’m OK, and I’m blessed with good hand/eye coordination, and good eye sight and perfect colour rendition (tested) , so perhaps I’m an expert in this. I think my expertise is mixed, because most of the 10,000 hours was actually just spent walking, because this is what I do: walk and shoot, and walk some more. I do not subscribe to the idea of being depreciative of one’s own skills, as in most posts in this blog, because this creates an intellectual impediment to trying new things and to the persistence necessary to achieve quality work. It’s hard enough getting over the fear of originality and venturing into the unknown, but once one has stood for any time at the edge of that chasm, believe me: the view is spectacular.


agree with Ben that expertise and professionalism are two different things. I would like to consider myself an expert in sign design and manufacture with almost 50,000 hours under my belt. And I would like to think I was professional in my approach to this and with clients. Does this prevent me from learning or wanting to learn more? No way! As for my photography, I am very much a novice and want to learn something from every single shoot I go on. Practice makes perfect goes the old adage and I have such a long road to travel to even think about achieving this, but it is one journey that I am looking forward to undertaking.

"Banjo Panda" by Sophie Corrigan

Really, it depends on your definition of expert

Amy-Elyse Neer:

I’m an expert at learning new things.

View additional posts by Jen Durant

Jen Durant

Redbubble Artist Relationship Manager