What Makes You An Artist?

Posted: April 1, 2022 in Uncategorized

I hear a lot of people stammer and stutter over the idea of being an artist. Sometimes it is humility. Sometimes frankly it is false humility, and sometimes people hold that name artists in such high regard that they simply can’t believe it is a title that should be bestowed upon them. Artist is a title for someone better than me. If that is you, STOP IT! Here is a very basic, working definition: An artist is someone who makes art. I know that sounds a little “Captain Obvious,” but that’s it. If you make art, you’re an artist. Claim it. No one asked you to be as good as Rembrandt or Van Gogh. The other day I was looking at some video online. The work was not original, nor was it particularly good, frankly I’m surprised they weren’t tagged with a copyright violation, but it had over one million views. I will admit there was part of me that started having a little bit of sour grapes. “Why did I bother doing the thousands of hours of art making, when stuff like this gets all that attention?” That is precisely the wrong way to think.

I make the art I feel led to make. If anything the fault is mine. I have not mastered the art, and it is an art, of driving traffic to my work. The video I lamented, the one with the millions of views, has millions of views precisely because it is not original. Instead it is something many people search for, because the people who actually created the base material have done the hard work of building an audience and finding their tribe. The work I make is original, though there is nothing new under the sun and clearly I have many influences. I am an artist because I make art, and, if you make art, so are you.

All of us have tastes. There are things we like and things we don’t like. I can go to an art museum and see works that I simply do not like. It has to happen, art is subjective. I can get that same sour grapes in those galleries. “My work is better than that. Why do they get to hang in a museum while I labor in obscurity?” Do you want to know why? Because, by comparison to them, nobody knows who I am. These people created work that was meaningful to them and shared it with the world. By and large, they didn’t worry about who would like it and who would not. They did their best work, shared it with the world and it resonated with some people. It didn’t have to resonate with everyone, no art will, but it resonated with enough people. The artist found their tribe and the tribe ran with it. They said “I am an artist, and this is my work” and they hung it up for the world to see.

The first step to being an artist is making art, the second step is admitting and believing you’re an artist and the third step is sharing your work with the world.

Be an artist.

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