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5 Reasons Why It’s Good To Be A Beginner

When it comes to art and crafting, a good rule of thumb is this: you never know how much you can accomplish until you try. 

a paint pallete

Photo via Craftsy; Illustrations via CakeSpy 

I studied illustration in college, which ultimately led to a career as a commercial illustrator and writer. Drawing and painting are my go-to crafts, and the ones which I consider myself “good” at. However, in spite of (or possibly because of) my level of prowess in one area of crafting, I consider it important to constantly try new things. 

There are many benefits of trying a new craft and re-entering the beginner’s mindset. Not only does it expand your horizons, but it might just make you better at your primary skill! Here are some of the reasons why it’s good to be a beginner. 

1. It makes you mindful.

young girl feeling inspired

When you’re established at one type of art or craft, it can be easy to fall into autopilot mode. For instance, as an artist, I can confidently grab a pencil or my watercolors and just get to work.

However, when I try something new, such as pottery, there are all sorts of basics that I don’t know that prevent me from being able to jump right in. The fact that you need to start with the basics at the beginning can be a good thing. It minimizes the potential of falling into old habits or zoning out. In this way, you’re much more mindful and present in the act of creating because there’s so much newness to it. This mental shift can bring a fresh perspective to things when you go back to your “primary” craft. 

2. It gives you respect. 

If you want to quickly gain a sense of respect for something, it’s as easy as trying something new. Think of it this way; perhaps you’re an accomplished knitter, and when you see other people’s projects you may instantly compare their work to yours (for better or worse).

But, if you were to try something new, like baking, where you’re a total newbie, then you’ll quickly gain a sense of respect for what other people do. As a beginner, looking at the accomplishments of others can inspire you rather than instantly propel you into a competitive spirit. 

3. It sets you free from expectation. 

a sense of accomplishment through pottery

I don’t know about you, but I set the bar pretty high for myself. When I create within my realm of expertise, I have certain expectations for how I want things to turn out. I am disappointed when I don’t meet my own expectations.

However, when exploring something new (like when I took a beginning pottery class) I had the beautiful experience of having no expectations. Since I’d never worked with a pottery wheel before, I wasn’t thinking about how I wanted my project to come out. I was focused on absorbing new information and the learning the basics, which included not flinging clay into my own face or onto my neighbor’s lap. 

There’s a wonderful sense of freedom to exploring a craft and creating without expectations. Being a beginner can bring you back to that state. 

4. It makes things magic again. 

rainbow with yarn, magical

Even if you love your craft, after a period of time, you may lose the creative spark you once had. I am a commercial artist and I do hundreds of drawings and paintings a month. While I still love it, in some ways it can become monotonous.

Take, for instance, the time I took a knitting class at a local yarn shop. I distinctly remember when I was first able to actually envision the scarf I was making, rather than the lines of stitches that seemingly were going no where fast. Let me tell you, it was like pure magic. Even though it was far from refined (it was somewhat lumpy and uneven, and the stitches were way too tight) the fact that I had made it myself filled me with an almost absurd sense of accomplishment. 

Trying new things can remind you how magical the art of creating can be, and can remind you of how very capable you are. 

5. It makes you better at what you already know.

Artistically, I identify mostly as a painter and illustrator, with pretty good chops in the kitchen as well. However, having a level of accomplishment in these two artistic arenas hasn’t stopped me from branching out. I’ve tried knitting, needlework, pottery and more. I wasn’t very good at any of those things, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying them.

Perhaps the biggest benefit I found of trying these new things is that they allowed me to bring that beginner’s mindset back to the crafts at which I am “good” at. I was able to approach things I do on a frequent basis in a new light and with a new sense of appreciation. While very different, the other crafts brought on ideas, inspiration and color concepts that I might not have thought of otherwise. So in a way, being a beginner makes you better at the things you already know! 

Experience the beginner’s mindset firsthand by trying a new craft! Craftsy’s Startup Library is the perfect starting point for trying something new. 

Why do you think it’s good to be a beginner? 

5 Comments

Nel

It keeps your brain active! In our 30s, 40s and 50s, many of us are in careers that don’t require great leaps of learning or involve a huge learning curve. You get good at what you do, and even if you do have big changes in your work, they are within your field, within a safe context where you’re building on education and experience and talents you are sure of.

But as you get older, a lot of people can find their lives shrinking, the challenges becoming minimal, find themselves playing it safe or just ‘relaxing’ and not doing anything very challenging. Our fifties and sixties and beyond are a great time to take up a new hobby or craft that is out of our comfort zone. You don’t have anything to prove (like young people often do) and you’re not afraid of mistakes or failure, so you can have fun with it.

I learned some basics of sewing and embroidery when I was a child, and haven’t touched them since then. Forty years later, I’m much better able to learn and more motivated, and enjoying the learning and creative process very much.

I think that a Craftsy class is a great gift for a newly retired person, for example, or for a newly retired couple who want to try a craft together. A super gift idea is to give the same class to a grandparent and grandchild, so that the grandparent can help the child learn and the two can have a stronger bond. Craftsy makes it very easy to try something new, especially when courses are on sale. (And looking at the projects people have made is very encouraging, too.)

I am a huge fan of continuing to learn new things and branch out into creative and intellectual areas I never tried before when I was too busy as a student or in my career as a college instructor. I hope one day to be able to pass on what I’m learning to others, either in the form of gifts I’ve made or in teaching someone else what I’m learning.

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Jessie Oleson Moore

Beautifully put, Nel! It’s wonderful and inspiring to read about your own experience trying new crafts, and you have such inspiring ideas for learning a craft together. I especially love how you mention that as we get older trying new things is harder but — perhaps because of this — all the more important.

Thank you for weighing in!

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Phanie

I have been crocheting since I was little. And I agree, while I love it, it can get monotonous. I suppose that is why I like to make up my own patterns sometimes rather than simply follow one. Although following one can spark ideas for new creations! I have recently gotten into notebook making. I love that I am not so much critiquing myself, but just enjoying the process.

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Jessie Oleson Moore

What a wonderful reminder that even within your chosen craft you can mix things up, for instance how you have by making up your own patterns! I love that you’ve augmented your crafting with notebook making!

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Deborah

it doesn’t matter what i’m doing as long as i do it. i’m proud of myself for attempting any new activity whether its gardening, knitting, crocheting, baking and soon…sewing. they say practice makes perfect but for me, small imperfections are perfection…and unique. my uploaded project pics says it all…lol

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