What it Means to Be an Artist

There is a heavy debate among people of the creative as to what classifies someone as an "artist." 

Amongst the banter, familiar opinions surmise, wherein many believe that in order to be an artist you must have great skills, or more importantly, make a living from your artwork. 

I don't believe as they do. 

Since I was but the tender age of 9, I knew I was an artist. It sounds presumptuous perhaps in the eyes of those that harbor the above opinions, but I think being an artist is so much more than the skills you have and their monetary value. 

Although perhaps it is the dream of many artists to make a living from their artwork, it is not what drives them.

It is their passion.

A singer is a singer because she sings. Is she good? She doesn't have to be. 

A painter is a painter because he paints. Does it have to look like a photograph? Does it have to be "good"? No, he simply must paint. 

Now, there are some limitations to this ideology. When it comes to technical skills, like those of a computer programmer, not just anyone who messes with computers can be classified as one. He doesn't necessarily need classical training but he at least must know what he is doing.

It's with this very point that creatives will shout, "well, right there...you said it yourself, "you've got to know what you're doing!'" 

To this, I remark its falsehood. That computer programmer without the classical training: do you know how he got to his skill level? Trial and error. He too was just like any other novice. 

At 9, I was a novice, but it was through trial and error (and practice, thanks to today's bountiful online resources and references) that my work slowly improved. 

I suppose I must refine what being an artist is a little: it starts with a passion, but it grows into an obsession. Someone can have a passion for art, but if they feel they aren't any good at it, and therefore hardly take it upon themselves to learn and develop their skills, they are simply a closeted artist-- one that may never come into the light;

it is a fear that holds them. 

They are scared of failure so they do not try. They do not believe in themselves so they do not try. 

Following a passion of any kind takes resilience and courage. You may not make a living from your art, but you could-- No one may enjoy your art, but perhaps someone will. Any pursued passion has its unknowns, but you'll never know if you simply give up before you've begun. 

At the end of the day, if a little boy or girl draws a stick figure and calls themself an artist, it is not my place or my belief to tell them they are not. If they are an adult and they draw a stick figure, the same applies. Our skillsets may be different, but they are no less an artist than I am, we are simply at different stages of development; or better perhaps, we create with individual prowess, in which case art embraces that freedom wholly. 

So, if you ever question whether or not you can call yourself an artist, the title isn't something named by those of outward standing but is a name formed in the presence of passion and obsession. 

I believe there's an innate need to create within us all; there are just those who remain in a dormant state, and other's who partake because they cannot live a life without it. 

Which are you?


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