University of Tasmania
whole_BroomhallEdwardMJ1997_thesis.pdf (10.24 MB)

What makes an artist? : formative influences in the early lives of 34 Tasmanian visual artists

Download (10.24 MB)
posted on 2023-05-27, 00:41 authored by Broomhall, Edward M.J
The purpose of the study was to investigate the childhood experiences of contemporary, recognised visual artists in order to document and identify formative influences which nurtured their interest in visual art through childhood into mature professional development. A total of thirty four artists were interviewed in the study. All subjects were residents of Tasmania. There were seventeen males and seventeen females. They were drawn from six media areas: painting, print making, ceramics, textiles, sculpture and book illustrating. Naturalistic research was deemed to be an appropriate methodology for this study. The qualitative process of inductive analysis was used to generate information about significant influences on the development of young artists. The instrument for the study was an interview schedule. Three areas were identified as being the basis of the interview schedule: art experiences at home, art experiences at school and art experiences at different phases through childhood. Six major areas related to artistic development were identified: inherent ability, familial influences, access to imagery, technical knowledge, socialisation and school influences. Findings of this study revealed that individuals who display a keen interest in art making from an early age, whether male or female, are aware of the urge to make images with available materials and begin to do so with a firm singlemindedness in early childhood. They seek to acquire technical skills and seek adult role models. Contact with art work and art resources seem to make an impact and was important. The data revealed that the home environment was a significant source of support for subjects interviewed. Considering education policy and the promotion of gifted and talented programs for students, the case of artistically talented children may not align readily with current policy for other areas of talent and giftedness. Results of the study indicate that the source of identification of artistic talent came not from the school but from parents and other family members. Further, home environmental influences were responsible for nurturing the inherent talent exhibited by the subjects interviewed for this study. In some cases teachers provided support and encouragement but generally the school was not the major source of influence. Identification as an artist does not seem to rely on an outside institution such as a school: rather, the identification is from the home environment and a 'significant other.' In conclusion, the need of artistically talented children, to work in isolation, has significance for school art programs. It would seem more important for children, who are identified as artistically talented, to be placed in out-of-school programs rather than make allowance for those children in a regular school program.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 1996 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager