5 Famous Creatives Whose Skills Were Self-Taught

By Staff Reporter - 15 Jan '21 10:49AM
  • 5 Famous Creatives Whose Skills Were Self-Taught
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When was the last time you learnt a new skill? According to the saying, every day is a school day - but when you're an adult, finding the time to teach yourself something new can be tricky. 

You might even question whether pursuing your passions is worthwhile. But as these five famous creatives show, self-teaching doesn't have to mean your experience is second-best. 

In this blog post, we'll share five successful creatives who taught themselves how to play, paint, or perform. Whether you're keen to learn how to play the drums by reading resources on drumcenternh.com, or are itching to pick up a paintbrush, read on to be inspired by some of the greatest creatives in history. 

1. Jimi Hendrix

The American singer-songwriter Jimi Hendrix was famous for his distinctive playing style. He taught himself the guitar at the age of 15, after first learning how to play a broken ukulele which he found in a neighbor's home. 

Although Hendrix had no formal training, his talent has never been in any doubt. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio has described Hendrix as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music." 

2. Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh is famous for selling just one painting during his lifetime. But despite being commercially unsuccessful while he was alive, his dream-like paintings have since become some of the most prized (and expensive) artworks in the world. 

Van Gogh's art education began and ended with a brief course at the Académie Royale des Beux-Arts in Brussels. He didn't like the idea of art school and stayed at the Académie for just one year (1880-81). After leaving, he continued to develop his own style before his untimely death in 1890. 

3. Yoko Ono

As a child in Tokyo, Yoko Ono was taught how to play the piano. She was such a successful musician that she went on to study composition in New York. However, the skills for which she's famous today weren't taught at a prestigious institution - they were completely self-taught!

Throughout her 50-year career, Ono has created sculptures, experimental films, conceptual artworks, and books. She has received numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Japan Society in New York, and is often credited as saying that art is like breathing to her: "If I don't do it, I start to choke." 

4. David Bowie

Often described as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Bowie's talent became obvious at an early age. At school, his teachers noticed that he was incredibly good both at dancing and playing the recorder, which he learnt along with his class. This was the first (and last) instrument that Bowie was formally taught. 

Like Hendrix, this interest in music led Bowie to teach himself how to play the ukulele. He soon added the piano, tea-chest bass, harmonica, guitar, and Japanese koto to his repertoire!

5. Thelonious Monk

The American jazz pianist Thelonious Monk is world-renowned for his unique style. During his lifetime, Monk revolutionized the jazz scene and is currently the second-most recorded jazz musician (Duke Ellington tops the list).  

Monk started teaching himself the piano at the age of six. Later, he started playing the church organ, before embarking on a jazz career as a teenager. He initially found it difficult to sell records but started to become successful in the early 1950s. 

Over the next 30 years, he cemented his reputation as one of the most influential jazz pianists in the world. 

Bottom Line

Keen to learn a new skill? Remember these five famous creatives, none of which who earned substantial formal training.

Follow in the footsteps of these five creatives and teach yourself something new today! 

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