Neither have I. So imagine my surprise when I saw those words written by a friend of mine, and found myself referred to immediately thereafter.
Me, an artist? Naaaaww.
But it’s true. And so are you, if you want to be.
For a long time, I thought artist was a dirty word. Artists were flighty types, the ones who waltzed in, threw out a bunch of ideas, and then left, leaving it up to people like me to clean up the mess. They were unreasonable, caring more about how something looked than how it worked. They couldn’t work unless they were inspired, or “in the mood”. They were naturally creative, where I was not.
I started writing because I thought I could, and because, while I didn’t feel like I was creative, I knew I was stubborn, and I thought maybe that could fill in the gaps. And ever since then, people have been telling me I’m creative, praising my imagination, and calling me an artist.
You’re an artist if you create art. That’s it.
Art is not easy. Perhaps there are people who are naturally creative, but if so, I’ve never met them; every creative person I’ve spoken to has become so through great effort, falteringly and erratically and in between school or a job that puts food on the table and keeps the bills paid.
Being an artist is not earned. If you want to call yourself an author, you must earn that – I will allow myself that title when I publish my first book, and when people I don’t personally know buy it. But I became a writer when I began to write, and because I continued to do so.
To be an artist, you need only create art. There’s no other requirement.
Of course, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re creating art you care about, it doesn’t matter what you call yourself, because the art will be the same. Yet I fear that many don’t let themselves create because they think art is done by other people – creative people, or hard working people, or people like me.
If I never thought I was creative, what does that mean for you?
Most artists only realize they’re artists later. If you have something you’d like to create, go ahead and do it. I give you permission. Because here’s the dirty little secret – anyone can become an artist, if they want to.
And to my friend whose words inspired this post:
That means you too.