Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What makes an artist?

I've been wondering something today, and I hope you all can answer this, even if it's with "this debate is so boring!"
I read Cloth, Paper, Scissors while Rosie dyed my hair today. Something in the "Popping the Question" section caught my brain. The question was "What art supplies do you like to travel with?"
One person answered, "I always have knitting or small sewing projects, but now that I've been introduced to CPS, I'm putting an art pack together, including a camera that will go with me from now on. I can't begin to tell you what your magazine has done for my creative juices. Thank you to all your wonderful artists who share so much with us 'wannabes.'"
Here's my question: When does someone stop thinking of her/himself as a "wannabe" and start being an artist? Why does the writer above think of herself as a wannabe? And is it presumptuous of me to think of myself as an artist? I know that I have a lot to learn, but I still think of myself as an artist. Do you consider yourself to be an artist? If so, why?
Please tell me what you think.


  1. I think we all are artists. In grade school we all thought we did great art and didn't care what others thought. Some where along the line we lose that great way of thinking and seeing the world. Instead we become caught up in should do and ought to do before we think we are a real artist. Cast those aspersions off! You and you alone are in control of what you of yourself as. Why give someone else control over what you are? So be an artist and feel good about what you create! Even if it is as simple as doodling during a bore office meeting. Look where someone took that -- Zentangles! Leap and the net will appear.

  2. I believe myself to be an artist as well....even in between times when searching for my next outlet..being I love all forms of expression...from photography..poetry..drawing..cooking...dress...lol.
    I believe to be a way in which you think...look at life..express your inside on the outside. I do not need to be acknowledged for all my endeavors...just knowing I am is enough.

  3. I agree with the general concept that we are all artists, we all create, etc. But the question is at what point someone says "I am an artist," and in my experience, people say that when they're making at least part of their living by creating art.

    It perhaps seems a bit cynical to say it like that, but honestly, the only time you're going to be saying this is if someone asks you what you do. For example, both of my wife's parents were excellent, accomplished photographers. But if you asked them what they did, Rick would have said "I'm a photographer," while Mary (depending on when you asked) would have said "I manage a coffeehouse" or "I run the surgical education office at Boston Medical Center." (Mary had a remarkably varied professional life.) Of course, if you continued the conversation, Mary would have also mentioned that she was a photographer, a dancer, a singer of English ballads, and a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in snakes and raccoons, but those were all things she was only occasionally paid for.

  4. I think that's a really interesting question, and one I've struggled with. To this day it's still hard for me to call myself "an artist" ...see how I even have to put it in quotes there, and I make and sell my art every day. I'm a lot more comfortable with it now than I was several years ago. And although I always have some project cookin', some doodle going, some iron in the creative fire, I don't know...it's just a hard cloak to wear. I never had any problem calling myself a singer...and that's an artist, too...and I think it may be possible that this has something to do with once upon a time, a long time ago, I decided to NOT work at a paying job for a while...I would be an artist. I would do art fairs and hang my work in galleries...I would have openings, I would do all of those things that artists do...and all day, I would make art. And what I actually ended up making, while someone else footed all of the bills, was a VERY clean house and ALL the laundry and dishes clean ALL of the time. When I had all the time in the world to do it, I hadn't any desire to do it...and I guess I felt...and it lingers...isn't an artist sort of jonesing to do their art all the time? Isn't it part and parcel of being an artist that without your art you would perish immediately?

    Time has gone on, thank heavens. I went back to work, and my art was re-relegated to my copious free time, where I could do it as I chose...and here's what I've learned. Being an artist isn't about wanting to do stuff...it isn't even about doing stuff...it's part and parcel about how you see the world. And it's how you chose to affect and be affected by your world...no matter the medium. So, do I find it presumptuous that you think of yourself as an artist, Lea? No, I do not. I think it's wonderful that you've been able to claim that part of you that bumps up against the rest of us as art. All you need to really understand is that there's a lot of folks out here who do, actual art, who feel less comfortable wearing that label. I like that you don't have that particular hang-up. It's a neurosis that I'm still fighting to completely lose. :+}

    p.s., i don't go anywhere without paper and at least 3 pens of completely different tips and a pencil.