What makes an artist?
Many artist struggle with this elusive definition of an artist. But I think that it is just like having a baby. If you create a baby, everyone including yourself labels you as a mother or father. No questions asked. So if you create anything- a painting, music, writing you automatically are an artist. See? Simple.
If your baby is bad or good you are still a mother. If your art is bad or good you are still an artist.
Here’s what some others think:
From Stop Motion Magazine interview with japanese Artist Fumiko Magari
SMM: What makes an artist?
Magari: You need to know what you like and don’t like. Art comes from feelings, such as anger. I’m still looking. I want to make change. It’s a very serious question because no one has asked me so directly before.
Defining yourself as an artist
The 20th century view, first articulated by Marcel Duchamp, is that artists define themselves, with no other external forms of validation required. I believe this to be true. From the time I drew my first squibble with a broken yellow crayon and sat back on my hunches to admire my work I knew I was an artist. Why? Because I made art. Which to me means I took nothing and made something. That’s all. That simple.
Why do I make art? Because there is nothing else in the world that feels as good as creating something. Many people have tried to analyze its meaning. In the early 20th century Sigmund Freud pioneered the study of art in its psychoanalytic form by considering the artist as essentially a neurotic who deals with his psychic pressures and conflicts through his creative impulses. Maybe. Freud may be right about some artists and some art. But sometimes I just see something so beautiful, I have to capture it. So it becomes mine. It’s a way for me to push the beauty through my veins, to become a part of it. But that’s only sometimes.
According to Jung, art and other forms of creative endeavor could access the ”collective unconscious” and provide considerable insights on not just the process of creativity but also the cultural elements in the mind that are carried across generations. In Jungian psychology art as a psychological process would be an assimilation of the cultural experiences of the artist so it is accessible to an wider community.
Humans have been making images of humans as long as we have been able to use our hands. There is nothing else I want to paint, draw, sculpt except humans. Once in a while an animal but mostly humans. I am fascinated by the behavior of people and I like to express it in art. I think it helps me sort it out in my over cluttered brain. Maybe I am taking notes.
“What makes one an artist? My friend asks because she is timid about calling herself a “real” artist. I have always agreed with Duchamp. If you say you are an artist, you are. No validations or explanations needed. It’s because being an artist is a state of mind, not an action. It’s like if you say “I am hungry.” Art is a feeling. A compelling urge to create something from your observations and ideas. I have heard people say that you are a real artist if people buy your art. If sales defines you as an artist, where does that put old Vincent van Gogh, who only sold one or two paintings during his lifetime but is one of the most recognized dead artist in present day?
Do you really want to put that kind of power in the hands of mere mortals? Just because someone has enough money to buy your painting does NOT mean they have the wisdom and insight to knight you a “real “ artist. Leave that power in the hands of the proper owner- YOU! Only you know the burning desire you have to create art. Only you can hold that branding iron in the fire and sizzle your skin with the courageous act of branding yourself an artist. Go ahead! What are you afraid of? You can be a bad artist or a good artist. But be an artist!