So, I was reading a post that asked “what is an artist?”. I, of course, scrolled down to read all the comments that straightaway devolved into arguments. This is of course a debate that is as old as arguing. It did however get me thinking about what I thought may be the answer to the question.
After speaking to a musician friend, Molly Webster on the topic of what makes a person an artist we found that saying “you are not an artist because of this and that” is what seems to be offensive to people and where the line to oppressiveness is crossed. As Molly put it “I wouldn’t want to stifle someone by telling them they are or are not a musician or artist.” I defiantly agree with that as well, but there seems that an answer can be given that doesn’t involved this, rather on that asks people to decide for themselves but provide some suggestion of where the lines are drawn.
It is about creating a culture of thought were one feels that there is a higher standard in proclaiming ones self an artist, and not the job of out side observers to deem it so or not so.
This is important to promote appreciation and respect for art and the work done by artist, while allowing a freedom of choice through self reflection. Also, if someone makes art, but can not see themselves as an artist there is no reason to feel that is somehow deeming or devalues the personal benefits of making art. Anyone can make art, but not everyone is an artist.
With this line of thinking,
An artist is someone who not only makes art but puts a great deal of life commitment into the making of art. This is not someone that makes art that copies others art as a means to an end. It can be making art and drawing from others, but also should include a purpose of contributing some expansion of the art from ones self. Simply put, not just copying other work and saying “I’m an artist”
Going to school for art does not cut it if the above is lacking.
Being self taught does still cut it if the above is still there as the primary goal and process. Self taught as an expression is rather supercilious anyway, sense no one just teaches them self without drawing from somewhere, like books, videos, or just seeing someone else’s art. A better phrase for this is probably self directed taught. That is a whole other bag of monkeys.
If you choose to take on the mantle of being an artist you should do so knowing full well that many before and many now wake up every morning and dedicate their lives to being artist.
If you can look these dedicated people in the eyes and say I am an artist and sleep at night, who are we to contradict you, though we should urge some to think hard on it as a matter of respect to those who came before.
In the end art is an amazing thing and an important part of our society. Art and those who have endeavored to be artist deserve some respect and not find themselves surrounded by posers claiming they are artist when they pick up the nearest crayon. I think this applies to many things, such as Musician, Poet, Writer and etc.
If you love painting or what ever but don’t see yourself fitting into this model, it’s perfectly fine. Paint that painting and reap the rewards that doing so gives. Maybe doing that you will fall in love with art and want to strive to be an artist and when you are there you will know.