Monday, October 10, 2011

Why You Should Believe You are an Artist: Even if You Don't Make Art

When I was 17 I had a boyfriend who said, "You're not a real artist. Real artists are like (so and so friend of his) who makes stuff up out of his head. You just copy something you see." And yes, I did. I would paint from nature, or do my pastel drawings outside, on site. So there really was nothing I could say about that. The boyfriend meant a lot to me so I believed him. Sad as that now seems. I decided that no, I wasn't an artist. I just liked to draw and make pretty things.

Last week I was teaching a class and I heard the women saying that same thing. They sculpted with metal clay, they did jewelry and were taking mixed media classes. But they called themselves crafters. They knew real artists, and that was not what they were. I felt so sad. Then something someone else said triggered the same thought and I had to share it with you. 


So here is today's message. YOU ARE AN ARTIST!!! You may call yourself a crafter, and a craft is maybe what you feel you are creating. Maybe you don't feel you're an artist because you may be contrasting yourself with someone who is a fine artist. You may work with Sculpey instead of clay. You may love to sew, instead of creating paintings. But you are still an artist. An artist is not defined by the medium or the product, but by so many other little things. You see, I've come to realize over the years that to be an artist does not have to mean that you sell your work. It does not mean that you work with fine art materials and shop at fine art supply stores, or create art that is ultra realistic, it does not even have to mean you can draw. We put up such barriers to our own happiness. We want to be artists, we hope to one day be artists, all the while not understanding that we already are artists.

I believe that the term "artist" is not a job title but a personality type. You are an artist for example, if you love beauty. If you seek to surround yourself with it, and glory in it. You're an artist if you appreciate design. If you notice the light on the leaves outside your window at a particular time of day. If you feel energized and alive after learning some new way to create. If you HAVE to create. If you are unhappy if you don't create. 

You may recognize all or only a few of these descriptions in your own personality. BUT if you do, then I believe really and truly in my heart of hearts that you are already an artist. I'll agree that artist's are born not made. But that does not mean that you ooze talent your whole life. It may not even mean that you work with art materials. It is your personality. It is in your blood. You couldn't stop yourself from creating if you tried. Odds are that if you look at your life you'll see that you find a way to be creative in all sorts of areas of your life. It may be in what you choose do as volunteer work. Or how you decorate your home. Or how you dress or cook or craft. But to create, to make beautiful or interesting everything you touch, that is something a true artist does. Not because they went to school for it, but because they simply have to.

It really wouldn't be a big deal what we call ourselves except that we make judgements about ourselves based upon that. You would sign up for that art retreat but you're sure that only real artists go and you would stick out. Or you would spend the money for that amazing sounding class but you really can't justify spending any more money on something that is really just a  hobby. You would take a room in the house for yourself and your art, but that would seem to much like carving out your own little studio space and you don't feel it's justified. Do you see how you demean yourself? That is why it's dangerous to deny your Artist self. God has made you unique, He has put that creator element of Himself in you, and you refuse to acknowledge it. He may have caused that opportunity to go to that art retreat to open itself up to you, purely for your own joy. But you refuse to embrace the gift that it is because you can't acknowledge that you are already an artist and have been since the day you were born.

So please, think about this. And next time you feel the urge to claim not to be an artist-Don't. If you don't know what kind of artist you are, because you do a little of everything, say you're a mixed media artist. But if you say you're not an artist, you'll believe it. We listen to what we tell ourselves, as do others. So say it to yourself, if no one else. "I am an artist." And believe it- You are.

19 comments:

Angela said...

My granddaughter has convinced me that I'm and artist because she considers herself one and calls me one. She says that God is so creative and she's glad He made us that way. Pretty smart for a 5 year old!

Erika Davison said...

This post really touched my heart!!! I struggle with if I am a crafter or an artist all the time. I've had "artists" tell me at a brain storming session I was a crafter what I was doing was not art but craft! It really bothered me and I was bothered by their snotty attitude! I did not go back and wasn't part of their group anymore. This post and the encouraging words of Kelly Rae Roberts makes me see I too am an artist!! I am a crafty artist with my own ideas and use others ideas as a springboard. Thank you for such a wonderful post!!!

Carrie said...

I agree. I would argue that anyone who thinks or works creatively is an artist - whether they are a hairdresser, chef, architect, writer, quilter or painter. They all require imagination and artistry to come up with something new and innovative within their fields.

sugar Creek said...

Love your post!! I have always drawn and painted and sewn and whatever came across my hands since I can remember!! I did quit for awhile raising my kids, but now they are in their own things and I can have my own time for my things now! I AM AN ARITST!! That's how I role!! LOL!!

Single Stone Studios said...

I still choke on this word. Artist. It feels bold and ambiguous. Though I sell my art everyday and have for the past nearly 4 yrs. It supports my family. I constantly live with paint on my hands and project in the works. I couldn't go a day without creating something ...writing, visual art, homemaking or simple everyday moments with those around me ... I still cannot say with certainty in my heart that I am an artist. My mind gets it, my heart is stubborn and seems to prefer insecurity. At least of late.

Simply Beautiful Sundays said...

Okay Jen, are you listening, because this may sound quiet like a whisper, but I wanted to practice. "I am an artist." My heart thanks you for this post.

Grace of Autumn said...

That was such a fabulous read and has come to me in perfect timing. Toady I was acknowledged as a textile artist and asked also to feature in a magazine. I believe I was born to create and to be an artist although I have not known whether to call myslef an artist or not because I work with fabrics. I believe God has given us the creative element and well we were created in his image weren't we. I am an artist. Thank you for a wonderful read.

mylaughingmagpie said...

Well said!! Whenever I meet someone & they ask me what I do, I always say that I am a scrapbooker & run a small scrapbook business on Etsy. But ever since returning from The Creative Connection, I have been encouraged to say that I am a "Mixed Media & Scrapbook Artist!" Because I AM! I work with all sorts of mediums & have my own creative ideas. I take classes to learn new techniques to further my artistic talent. I totally agree with the commenter who said that anyone who does something that requires creativity is an artist (chef, hairdresser, etc.). We all have a little bit of an artist in us, some just choose to let it out more than others! Thanks for an amazingly inspiring post today!!

cherishdesigns said...

Jen,

I love your point in this post... For some reason we are afraid to validate our art... It is sad that we are afraid to call ourselves artists... I too, even though I signed a artist license agreement with Demdao/Silvestri struggle with calling myself an artist. Thank you for sharing this, it's brilliant!

You are an amazing artist! :-) Kris

Sofia Dabalsa said...

i totally got chills reading this. Thank you so much for writing this message. This has inspired me to continue on this artful path! Selling or not! xxx

Janel said...

Awesome post, Jen! Sometimes I think you don't realize how inspiring you are to those around you!

Shelly said...

Beautiful! There are so many of us out there that struggle with what to call ourselves... despite my art degree and selling work, I didn't call myself an artist until I attended an art retreat, surrounded myself with 500 other artists, and finally realized it's JUST WHO I AM. Thanks for posting.

Jill said...

Amen! we are proud to call ourselves mixed media artists but it's definitely been a journey!

Going to share you with our facebook people, because there are so many that need to hear this! http://facebook.com/thingswithwings

great job! and love your list of benefits too!

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Hi! I came over to read your post after seeing the Facebook link, and I'm glad I did.

Early on in my art journey, I was lucky that an artist acquaintance told me, "If you tell people that you are an artist, then you are one." She'd struggled with claiming that identity because she's a beader, but once she did, she never looked back. When I arrived at that moment, it felt a little odd to say the word, but I remembered my friend's experience, and I plunged in.

Now, when I encounter people who have that same sticky relationship with the word "artist," I encourage them to use it, too. I get a lot of eye rolls (esp. from women 50 and over!), but it's my pleasure to tell them that I see their inner artist, and it's okay to let it show!

Jude said...

Just awesome! I shared this on my facebook with my other artist friends. Thank you.

Surrayah said...

I have not considered myself an artist because someone from a local art guild defined what I did not to be art! When I see other jewelry designers that have a gift with wire for example, I think that I will never get to that level. But these people all had to have started somewhere and this post has just opened my eyes to that! Thank you very much!!

my life is a mosaic... said...

Great post! I love how you expressed what so many creative people feel --that they "dabble" in art, but aren't legit artists.

I struggle with that myself. I love to write, but I hesitate to call myself a writer.

I love the idea that to deny ourselves the label "artist" is deny what God has placed within us -- His creative touch.

He created us. He is in us. Therefore, we are creative beings.

Bonita Rose said...

great post.... an artist is anyone that sets themselves free.. that's what I believe. xo
bonitarose

aMorita-Sa said...

Hi Jen,
I can truly relate to this post!! For the past 9 years I have suppressed my creative self for many reasons and I always felt like I was not being my true self...I have begun to reclaim my creative spirit and YES I AM and ARTIST!!! Please Stop by my blog when you have time http://amorita-sa.blogspot.com/
and you can read my story. Peace.