What Makes You An Artist

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Recently I heard a colleague lament that she wasn’t considered a “real” artist because she earned most of her living through other activities. She bemoaned the fact that her painting was described as “a lovely hobby.” It is sad that we must categorize everything—and perhaps even sadder that something so fulfilling rarely earns a full-time salary.

I don’t believe it really matters how you or your art is labelled. Good art is simply good art—and even good art doesn’t always sell. If your obligations to family or just making a living keeps you in the “less than full-time” or “hobby” category, you may still be more successful than someone pursuing art 40 hours a week.

Although Lucy van Pelt says a masterpiece takes at least ten minutes, it is not the time you spend that makes you an artist. You are an artist because of your intention, practice, commitment, and heart!

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Author: patricia906

I am a mixed media artist using surface design and texture to explore the patterns and associations in our world.

One thought on “What Makes You An Artist”

  1. I think that all too often sales are used as a marker by others – I well remember a friends’ 6 year old boy opining that I wasn’t a real artist, as I hadn’t exhibited or sold. Sadly, sales also appear to be the yardstick by which many of us judge ourselves (though interestingly, collectors and dealers will quickly recognise and dismiss those who are only in it to sell). I suspect that this is because we are taught to judge our and others success in economic terms, a tangible that is easy to recognise, and also less dangerous than relying on our own subjective view as a means of judging a piece of art.
    More important to me is why someone paints/sculpts/creates, what ultimately validates their work to them. Yes, sales are nice, but not a be all and end all, surely. I have no other income, so I suppose they are ultimately a necessity, but they do not validate my work For me the validation of my work is the impact it has on the viewer. I paint to communicate, and also to provide a space for the viewer to lose themselves, to escape from the now and wander the twists of my imagining. I consider a piece successful if it communicates what I intended, and if it achieves the goal of seriously engaging the viewer.
    Of course, what works for me won’t change how others consider me, which is the source of your colleagues lament, but the perceptions of others are less of a blow if we, as artists, have a validation that is derived from our work, and not an incidental end-product of the process.

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