This thought struck me recently and I began to think about all the criteria used to determine whether one is an artist or just a fool with a paintbrush. What gives me the right to call myself an artist and am I thinking to highly of myself and my creations?
I have been in love with art since before I knew what the colorful piece of wax I was scribbling with was. As a little girl, I didn’t have a Barbie dream house because I made my own out of boxes and markers. I was in my first art show in kindergarten and since then, have not lost my passionate love of artistic creation.
I have only started thinking of myself as an artist in the last year or two. I originally based this declaration on the reactions of other people and monetary compensation. I now hesitate to think of those two things as proper criteria for acquiring this title. After polling my peers I realized that a lot more goes in to artistry than praise and compensation. Here is what I found:
Rebekah Sayre gave great perspective on this topic. She said, “I never used to call myself an artist because I seemed to think that only those who produced art of a certain skill level could claim that title. Then I had a conversation with a man who called me an artist, and when I corrected him, he said, 'Well, what is an artist? A person who creates art. Do you create art? Then you're an artist!' I think the reason it feels presumptuous to give yourself the title of artist is because most people associate that title with the status of being a professional. I started calling myself an artist more comfortably once I started selling paintings, because then I could almost consider myself an artist of the professional kind. I still hesitate because there isn't anything that distinguishes me as a beginning professional from masters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh. The broad title levels the playing field, which makes me hesitant to pick up the mantle. But really, I think the man I talked to had a point: anyone who produces art is an artist.”
Further, Micah Nordland said, “I might be an artist. Ever since I took a class on art, I'm not sure what art actually is! So, I just like to say I make art-like objects; it has similar properties to other things people call art, but I leave actually defining whether it is or is not art to someone else. It's more fun that way!”
Katie Azedarach said, "I don't know if I would call myself an artist, but I certainly have artistic tendencies. I've been drawing since I was a toddler and I've kept my sketchbooks filled almost as long. I actively try to improve and I've been a member on DeviantART for the past six years or something. But, society never thinks too highly of anime/manga/comic illustration, so art is just another tool to help me visualize my writing.”
One the subject, Bliss Lecea said, “It's funny how we tend to hesitate calling ourselves artists. I haven't done art since high school, but I am an artist and I began calling myself that once realizing that is one of the gifts God has given me, and it does not glorify God when I dismiss his gift to the world.”
I also find it interesting how creative people often hesitate to refer to themselves as artists. There are so many mediums and ways of expression out there that by trying to categorize artistry we are systematically robbing art of what is actually is; a means of expression.
Artistic expression, no matter what form it comes in, is a highly personal and unique outpouring of the artist’s heart and soul.
I must say, however, that being an artist can be a disheartening pursuit. It is one that, in my opinion, will never be mastered by anyone. While there have been many greats and I’m sure there are many more to come; the beauty of art lies in the fact that it cannot be mastered. Each medium has rules and regulations, but it is the quirks, inconsistencies and complete defiance of the rules that make art so real and breathtaking. Despite the unattainable goal of mastery, don’t ever put down the tools of your medium; pick them up and pursue your art with reckless abandon.
Artist Mark Rothko put this into perspective by saying, “Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.”
So, whether you express yourself with a paintbrush, oil pastels, markers, a camera, music, dance, theater or a typewriter, you are an artist. Don’t let definitions, the opinions of others or a lack of confidence keep you from sharing your heart with the world. Be willing to take the risk, jump in to the abyss and embark on the feat of artistic exploration.