Adventures In Freelancing Comic #2 "The Tools Don’t Make The Artist"

AiF Comic - 2 - The Tools Don't Make The Artist

One of the most common questions asked of any artist, craftsman, or designer is curiously one of the most useless.

“What tablet do you use?”
“What kind of ___ is that?”
“What’s your favorite brand of pencil?”

Of course, this question can be asked innocently enough. It could even be coming from a desire for a recommendation they can trust.

A more misguided intention is the source of most of these inquiries, though: By obtaining ___, my ability will match theirs.

This mindset can be a serious pitfall, for a few reasons…

Clothes don’t make the Man

We all have artists or designers we look up to. We aspire to their level, to produce work as good as theirs. On the surface, it may be easy to look to their tools as the bridge between us and them. It’s a universal truth, though, that clothes don’t make the man. Putting on Michael Jordan’s shoes doesn’t magically make us better at basketball, (not in real life at least.)

Assuming that an artist’s work looks good because of the tools he uses is just the same. That artist got to the point he did because of the hard work and practice he put into his craft.

If you have the opportunity to ask an artist a question, why not ask about their routine, methods, technique, or discipline?

You’ll be able to “close the gap” in talent by gleaning that value from them instead.


When you set your eyes on a shiny new tool that you’re sure will improve the quality of our work, will you actually increase the work you do? Likely instead, your output will slow to a crawl, if not stop altogether.

If your mindset overemphasizes the tool over the artist, you could very well stop and wait to get it. If that involves saving up over time, think of how much practice with your dusty old implements would fall to the wayside!

There’s no shortage of premium tools available, and the cost of those can stack up fast. The actual benefit we receive from using the nicer stuff is marginal compared to practice, education, and constant hard work.

Start now with what you’ve got

Your best work will be the fruitage of your labor, not of your purchases. It will come from applying yourself, learning, and growing. New tools are nice, but they don’t make the artist.

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