The Rising Generation of Tween Artists

Are kids today becoming better artists because of youtube?  The answer is yes and here’s why.  Youtube is filled to the brim with tutorials from artists and professionals around the world that teach more and faster than what is gained in many expensive university classes for adults.  How many times have you heard an artist or graphic designer say that they learned the most on their own time and simply got a degree for the piece of paper?

That’s an expensive piece of paper.

Not only does it cost you thousands of dollars each year while working towards receiving that piece of paper, but it costs you years of your life that could be more fully dedicated to your art in more unconventional ways.

Leaving college with a mortgage that takes twenty+ years to repay should be the definition of insanity.

For at least a century, tuition at selective private colleges and universities throughout the US has risen annually by two to three percent more than the rate of inflation.  Until the 1980’s where tuition growth suddenly began to regularly outstrip growth in median family income.  It continues to do so.

In Renaissance Florence, budding teen artists like Michelangelo were paid by their teacher to learn art.  Today, we pay, and through the nose too.  University has become unaffordable for many families, and yet attending university is expected more so now than twenty years ago by the government, schools and by the media.

Banks in the US target their marketing specifically to parents, as though every parent ought to be saving for their child’s tuition as a rule, (this is not the ‘rule’ in many other first world countries), and this expectation seems to have now integrated seamlessly into US culture, along with the acceptance that the bigger the diamond ring, the more you love your wife, or the infamous line that we don’t need universal healthcare like other first-world democracies – we’re the United States of America!  Yeah. We buy the stories fed to us.  (It’s human nature, don’t beat yourself up too bad about it.  We’re all stupid sometimes.  Like sometimes we forget that one of the best ways to build character in a young adult is to allow them to buy their own first car, to work their own way through university, working jobs and aiming for academic scholarships.  I would never have had to opportunity to work on films doing makeup if I hadn’t had to pay my way through school.)

Youtube stores a wealth of teaching materials that can help children with their math homework, or enhance their art skills years beyond their natural ability in just days.

It is considered that a 12-13 year old is a good drawer if he doodles something like this:


And he is.  This is a great drawing on many levels.  We know exactly what this is and where it’s referenced from.  It makes us smile and remember the movie.  We think, ‘Wow, he didn’t even look at the toy and he got 1980’s Astronaut’s face just right down to the crack in the helmet.’

But now look at what this same budding tween artist can do with just a little step-by-step guidance from various free, online tutorials:

Amazing.  This thirteen year old is now suddenly kicking his artist parent’s proverbial butts.  At his age, his parents were barely learning to shade and were, in reality, mostly making ugly linoleum cutouts of peppers to print on tea-towels for mothers day in Art Class.

In some ways, these pieces are as good or better than what his parents do for a living today.


By Isis Barfuss, 12-13 years old

In a one week period, he completed these online tutorials, then suddenly leap-frogged to just copying directly from the finished product, no step-by-step required.


Todd Nuack does a lot of art tutorials for the Copic Marker website.  He is a comic book artist for Marvel, DC and Image Comics.

Could youtube tutorials be a legitimate (and free) next gen. art school option allowing kids to be ready to enter the workplace sooner and with fuller portfolios?

I can tell you this for certain, the more technique this budding tween learns on youtube, the more I wonder if he’ll end up naturally bi-passing University or Art School all together.



Featured Tutorials:

  1. Robin Williams was done with the help of this marvelous COPIC tutorial
  2. Spiderman Tutorial
  3. Realistic Frog Tutorial
  4. How to Draw a Realistic Eye: Art, Food, Kitty Channel by artist Kelly Eddington on youtube *Highly Recommend
  5. How to Draw Mouth and Lips by Mark Crilley  *Highly Recommend
  6. The Thing (not a tutorial)


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