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10 Truths Only Art Students Would Understand

10 Truths Only Art Students Would Understand

While some college majors earn almost universal respect, others are dismissed as undemanding and insignificant. Art, for example, is considered easier than science primarily because the latter contains more contact hours and more complex subject matter. However, this argument ignores the fact that art is interpretive and lacks the clarity of science, meaning that successful students must have a greater understanding of art and more confidence in their chosen medium.

Regardless of the circumstances, it’s indisputable that art students are all familiar with the same triumphs, struggles, and unfair misconceptions. With this in mind, here are 10 truths that only an art student would truly understand.

1. You constantly fight for the honor of your degree

Considering most people underestimate the difficulty of completing an art degree, the majority of art students feel compelled to fiercely defend their major. This can translate into defensiveness and undue aggression, although either would be understandable in the face of unsubstantiated and largely unfair criticism. Art students often get drawn into heated debates about the merit of their major, especially with those who study supposedly “serious” subjects.

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2. You appreciate that art takes many forms

From an outside perspective, there is a great deal of skepticism when it comes to appraising art. So many art mediums get labeled as unskilled or unappealing, but true students of art understand the complexity associated with these methods and learn to appreciate them over time. From celebrated multimedia artists such as Tiff McGinnis to modern-day abstract painters such as Justin Adian, art can be diverse, challenging, and thrilling regardless of its form.

3. You spend your disposable income on materials and supplies

As an art student, you will face two challenging and unavoidable obstacles: First, you will have a noticeable lack of disposable income. Second, you will spend whatever is left of your money on the materials and supplies required to bring your projects to life. As a result, you will spend every available penny on your art, subsequently forcing you to make a sizable investment in your future.

4. You appreciate the value of recycling

If you’ve ever seen a cheap painting in a thrift store and thought it might be valuable, there is every chance that you were right. After all, there are a number of artists like Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia that regularly give their work away to thrift stores in a bid to earn greater exposure and reach a wider audience. This also underscores the respect that artists have for thrift marketing and recycling, and offers students the chance to source useful materials and items without spending a fortune.

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5. You learn to make the most of your time during projects

If paint is your medium of choice (or you use it to infuse color into your project), you’re used to waiting for it to dry. This waiting period can be interminable to some, but art students use this time to reflect on their work and consider ways in which their project can be improved. Once you master this, you will start to appreciate your spare time more and use these waiting periods to your advantage.

6. You are used to ruining your clothes

Most clothes are not designed to suit the demands of art projects, in particular the damage caused by chemicals, paint, and abrasive substances such as glue. Over time, you’ll probably find that a number of your outfits are ruined from studying art, and the cost of replacing these merely becomes the price you pay for indulging your creative impulses!

7. You learn to deal with criticism that is based on opinion rather than objective reasoning

Art has always been subjective, regardless of its origin or form. While this is the source of a wide diversity of work and projects, it also generates criticism that is based purely on personal opinion rather than any form of objective reasoning. Your work will often be judged from a position of ignorance rather than insight, and as you continue to study you will you come to accept this as part of your chosen path.

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8. You are forced to listen to intense critiques that last for hours

To prepare art students for harsh criticism, tutors will hold regular sessions in which they deliver an intense and detailed critique of each individual’s work. Their deliveries will often be excessive and last for hours, with many extending beyond the initially proposed time frame. You learn quite quickly to cope with criticism and to distinguish between constructive feedback and subjective opinion.

9. You soon become a critic of others’ work

While studying art earns you an appreciation of all art mediums and opens your mind to alternative genres, it also helps you form your own preferences. This means that you soon develop a critical eye when appraising others’ work and look to deliver honest and constructive feedback to the artist. This is often an emotive process too, partially because you understand that all art is personal to the creator and an intense labor of love!

10. You understand the relationship that exists between art and technology

Some argue that technology now represents an arts-based education, although this principle could easily be reversed in 2015. More specifically, it would be fair to assert that modern art is increasingly dependent on software, which is in turn creating a closely bound relationship between art and technology. You will probably be more aware of this than ever, especially given the amount of software used to create art and the burden it will place on your computer’s processor!

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Featured photo credit: Foundry / Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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