Updated: Mar 14, 2019
One question I come across a lot, is the one of - when can I really say that I am,
‘Truly an artist?’ What is the definition of an artist anyway. If I go to the dictionary, it will tell me, (thank you dictionary.com)
1. A person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.
2. A person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor.
3. A person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.
Now, given these definitions, any of my students could qualify as an artist, couldn’t they?
What is that invisible line that I must cross before I’m good enough to stand up and declare that I am an artist? And most of my students don't think of themselves as artists. What signposts are there along the way to tell me where I am on that journey?
Well, sadly, there are no official markers that you can rely on to guide you.
• Some people might say that once you’ve had your first Solo Show that you qualify to call yourself an artist.
• Others might say you can’t really consider yourself a serious artist until you are making all your income from the sales of your paintings. In that case there would only be a handful of 'real artists' on the planet!
• Or, that you must be represented by a bricks and mortar gallery.
• Perhaps it requires that you’ve been painting for x number of years.
There are so many different criteria that might be considered, either separately or together.
Rather, having travelled this road myself, I think it is something else entirely. Being an artist is a way of being. It is not a label that I attach to myself and then I’m it.
This therefore makes it a very individual decision. No one else can tell you that you're an artist. Well they can of course, but it doesn't make you one. It is a way of being that you grow into. For some this happens from the time they first pick up a crayon, while for others, it can be a long and painful process of self acceptance. At the end of the day, only you can decide whether or not you want to accept that you truly are an artist and live the life of being wholly integrated into that.
For me it has been a very gradual journey, which had a huge amount to do with a crippling lack of self esteem. Some of the enemies of claiming my artist self were, first and foremost:
• I am not enough in all its forms both subtle and blatant
Closely followed by the excuses....
• I don’t really have time
• I’m too old
• I don’t have any talent
• I’ve got kids
• I can't afford it
• I can't give up my day job etc. etc………
However as my mum used to say ( and how I hated it when she did - but she was right of course) - where there's a will there's a way!
It's so much easier to find an excuse not to do something than it is to actually do the thing.
So what are some of the qualities that will help you to walk the artist’s way.
• A high tolerance for making mistakes
• Being OK with spending a lot of time alone
• The ability to self motivate and the three P’s
2. Passion for what you do
What do you think defines when you can call yourself an artist? - Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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