Being able to truly express yourself in anything can be one of the hardest things you'll ever encounter. Bruce Lee would talk about this in martial arts, and I have been fortune to meet a few professors who pushed me to find a way to express myself with my work. I've been on job interviews where the interviewer instantly noticed a change in me based strictly upon how I presented my portfolio! Now at the time I was not aware of it, but this fact goes back to a valuable lesson that we've all heard from someone in our lives at some point. Do what you love! When I moved to Los Angeles, CA I had booked a job interview 2 days before I even got there at a small graphics company. It was my very first job interview so of course I was nervous. Not knowing what to expect, I went in with both my Graphic Design portfolio, Animation portfolio, and dressed in a suit. I must say that my interviewers were nice. I am very thankful for that, because they could have grilled me! Instead I showed them my graphic design work as proof that I had Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark skills. Then I showed them Concept Art I had done for Animation, and I think I had given them my animation demo reel as a Quicktime on a CD. After the interview they were kind enough to give me pointers. To go into detail about what I mentioned above, they told me that when I first walked in the door they were out of sorts as to what I could do. From my portfolio they could see that yes indeed I have software skills, but when it comes to Graphic Design, they could clearly see that I do not enjoy it. When I started talking about my Animation related work they said I became a different person. They said I came out of my shell, and they could see who I am more! Obviously, I didn't get the job. They told me to always show confidence in myself, because if I don't believe in myself then they sure as heck will not invest money in me. With this lesson I improved my interviewing skills and finally got a job. As an Artist it is very important to express yourself. Now the reality is that if you have a job or have to work in some other field this is out of the question. Yes, this is true, but you can still find a way to express yourself in your art. After you finish a hard day of work, or in your spare time, make time for yourself to express yourself. What about those of us who work in the Union? Great question, we won't discuss that here. Alright, since you're pushing me for answers, all I will say is get an understanding of your contract with the Union and use common sense. End of discussion. Why is it Important to Express Yourself as an Artist? This is a valuable lesson I learned as I was studying Animation. Anybody with the talent can follow along with basics and principles, but to be great and really make an impression you need more than that. Expressing yourself will set you apart from the pack. It will identify you. It will be different or unique. The one and only of its kind. Why? Because if you add you to it, add your personality to it, than no one can copy that 100%. In expressing yourself you can either find your style or create a totally new one, which could lead to a whole new Art Movement. Jackson Pollack did that with his paintings which eventually lead to Abstract Expressionism. Even when we copy someone's work we can only copy the style. Personality is something that is extremely hard to copy. Rarely do you see anyone able to do that successfully. Why do I say personality is so hard to copy? Because part of personality is the way you think and approach everything in your life. The only people who know you that well would be your parents, siblings, or a twin. Comedians do this. Yet, as Artists they would have to copy our personality of the art. In my opinion this can be a challenge to do, but I know there's someone out there who will die trying to do it. Content is any kind of meaning or message you bring to your work. Again, like personality, it can help people see something about you and your art work that can give them a measure as to how much value they are willing to place upon your worth. I first studied Art at Harding University, a Christian College located in Searcy, AR. The professors there are adamant about using your art work to promote Christianity. There is also a strong tug-of-war pertaining to the value of art and religion. Some Christians, and other religious groups see little value in art. While at Harding I met people on both sides. One of my drawing teachers, Mr. Pitt, always encouraged us to be Artists who are mindful of Christianity. For instance, at this university we cannot draw from nude models. Christians there are strongly against that so we had to draw each other, as we are with our clothes on. Mr. Pitt sees no problem with drawing from nude models. He encouraged us to draw our mate or spouse if they gave us permission to do so. He was also one of those teachers who taught us the value of having something to say. When it comes to content, use your own discretion. In Art your style, content, and personality you bring to your work will set you apart from others and if that is strong enough the possibilities could be endless.