What’s in a name?

  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.

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10 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Penny says:

    Great job Elynn and a lovely introduction to yourself.

  2. What a good question! Even when I was doing other things than art, I always thought of myself as an artist. Being an artist for me is being creative in all aspects of my life. It means being willing to look at all the roads available and make choices that will benefit my creativity, my peace of mind and my well being in so many ways…although not always financially. At least not initially. Being a creative person/artist and also being responsible for my own well being (ie. support my self and my dogs) I know that my art and my creativity (in art, in dog training, in writing) must also support me. So while people may want to paste the “arty” label on me, I know that starving artist will never be my forte. Being an artist means allowing myself to explore mediums and ideas and create income while doing it, cause it sure beats any alternative. Being an artist also means accepting I am a bit different and I love it, not for the attention factor, but for the courage I have allowed myself to be infused with so I can make hard choices. Being an artist means doing what I want to do and sometimes (many times) what I have to to do in order to make my life a joy more often than not. And being an artist means opening my heart and my soul to others to add a bit of joy into their lives. Unless they are a pain in the arse and then I walk away. Being an artist means accepting I will always be learning. Now I better get off the computer and start creating!

  3. ewael1 says:

    Kiedy myślę ,ze jestem artystą to zaraz myślę-jakie to szczęście ze mogę robić to co lubię.kreatywność pozwala mi się rozwijać ,nie czuję się samotna,mogę robić to co sprawia mi przyjemność.Należę do Twojego pokolenia i też staram się pracować z komputerem bo to dla mnie okno na świat.poznaję ludzi ,ich zainteresowania,wymieniam z nimi doświadczenia.czuję się potrzebna.Artysta to szczęśliwy człowiek,jego umysł jest zajęty stale nowymi pomysłami.Jest się człowiekiem wolnym.A ile radości jak powstanie nowe dzieło.sama o tym wiesz najlepiej.podziwiam Twoje prace-są naprawde piękne.Mieszkam w Polsce-Kraków to moje rodzinne miasto.Nie znam angielskiego ale mam nadzieję ,że włączysz translator i nie będzie problemu.pozdrawiam.Ewa Latała-Biżuteria autorska(facebook)

  4. ewael1 says:

    When I think that I`m artist -I`m happy that I do this what I like- it is emezing. I can`t feel lonely.
    I do what I enyoj.Internet is how window to the world .I get to know other people, artists. admire their.
    The artist is happy, has got many new idea. Is open-minded. When I make now jewellery I feel very good , creative, crazy:) Your felt is beautiful !.I come from Poland, Cracow- it is my city.I was born here.
    Soryy for my english:( I began learning.

    I greet
    Ewa Latała-Biżuteria autorska.( facebook)

  5. fibreharmonicsymphony says:

    This is a fascinating questions. I have been struggling a little bit lately with what it means to be an artist. When I was young I never gave myself any credit as an artist because I would try to recreate an image from my mind and couldn’t draw it on paper. My final year of high school I was at a co-op placement with an artist who ran programs for the school board. The greatest gift I received from her was the knowledge that artist come in many forms. She introduced my to many different media and for the first time I truly enjoyed creating art. So I guess to me an artist is anyone who appreciates the simple beauty of the world around them and strives to share that joy and beauty with others.

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