When people ask me what I do, I answer “I am an artist”. Often times the response is ‘I would have guessed that. You seem like an artist.’ But I have always wondered what does an artist seem like? Is something more communicated in the words; “I am an artist?” Is it an aura, attitude, feeling or a certain look that speaks out?
While an artist is defined as a person who practices one of the creative arts, a performer of some type or maybe a person skilled at a particular task or occupation, I was sure there were preconceived ideas about being an artist. I was interested in finding out.
(I happen to have been a painter for 25 years, and a fiber artist for the last five years.)
I decided while I was at the airport waiting to board a plane for the Thanksgiving holiday I would do a quick survey of 15 of my fellow passengers and ask “what words come into your mind if I say to you I am an artist?” I was not too surprised by their answers.
A few people wondered what kind of artist I was, and had no other thoughts enter their minds. But, the majority mentioned the following words :
Creative ( mentioned many times), with one woman getting a dreamy look in her eyes saying, “I wish I was creative.” Associations like unemployed, a special breed, gifted, risk- taker, open- minded, free- spirited, right-brain, left- brain, admiration, edgy, a little kooky, a certain demeanor, and a distinct personal style were all mentioned.
But then I realized that what other people thought an artist was, although interesting, were answers to the wrong question. What I really wanted to know was what does being an artist mean TO ME. What hidden meaning do I subscribe to being an artist?
After many hours of examining my thoughts I came up with the following:
I tell myself I am an artist when:
1. I need to dig deeper for a creative solution to the problem at hand and that I have the ability to do so.
2. I am seeking permission to be okay with my critical nature regarding visual things. I have a strong desire to change and try improve how things appear. I tell myself this need to create, to reinvent and to perfect is okay.
3. But sometimes I am just looking for an excuse- stereotypical it might be, for one of my antisocial, or quirky behavioral traits .
I guess I would sum up being an artist as having the license and the responsibility to ask What if…????????
I would love to hear what goes through YOUR mind when you say you are an artist. Please contribute and post your comments and thoughts.