Thursday, August 5, 2010

A is for Artist

My newest Creative Contribution to the MMCA Marketplace is now online. "A is for Artist" focuses on defining the word "artist" and asks just why is it that so many people who make art cannot make the leap to calling themselves artists. Click here to read the post and while you are there, take a minute to add your own comment about what this topic means to you.

You can find the links to all my previous Creative Contributions on the sidebar of my blog under this icon:


Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Hi Seth,

This really strikes a chord because I see so many extremely talented people who refuse to call themselves artists. Obviously they have been gifted with talent (which in my mind equals artist) but for numerous reasons will not call themselves that.
One, they are not actively selling; they do it for pleasure. Well, that does not diminish their ability or quality of work.
Two, so many negative words come to mind for people of *my era* when the word artist is spoken. (broke, lazy, name it) Could this be why?
Three, many people receive no emotional support from their families/friends in pursuing any form of the arts. Can that have an effect?
Four, having an agent does not mean one has talent---just good PR! LOL!!! I think that one is self explanatory!

It is an interesting question, as I have always felt I was an artist (though going through dry spells) and find my view of life that of an artists eye.
Maybe you will get comments that can further this discussion....I find it most intriguing!


ooglebloops said...

I consider myself artsy and creative- but I would not call myself an artist. When you do that- people ask, what do you do? And that is hard to answer! I dabble in a little bit of everything, whatever appeals to me at the moment. I have no formal training in any of "the arts"(except the art classes taken in high school)Mine is not a marketable skill - just a creative outlet.

Terry said...

Hi Seth -
I love the art piece you did for this post, very upfront and in-your-face for those of us that have trouble with "the 'A' word".
For me, calling myself an artist feels like an invitation for ridicule. Suddenly others feel free to criticize what you do and how you do it, ask for proof (galleries, sales, degrees) and to even question your lifestyle (you do/don't look like an artist, you do/don't need an income, you do/don't have a 'real' job). Why would I want to invite all of that simply by saying "I'm an artist". So, I usually say "I paint".

For myself, I think that it becomes an issue of self-confidence; an ability to look doubters in the eye and say Yes, I Am an Artist. (Then they can perhaps think I'm a bad artist, but STILL an Artist, lol!)

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

Years ago my dear friend David Walker talked about mark making...instead of using the title "artist" many different responses to this word. I do what I do as easily as breathe...every day until the end of my time on this Mother Earth. This is a very thought provoking I will carry with me for the rest of the day. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

So interesting to hear that people have trouble actually calling themselves artists....for me, it's my true identity and I have never not claimed it. Once I graduated from art school (now decades ago!) and found myself working in a library I always continued to make art. I worked in that library for 25 years and never went to library school because that path would have actually altered my identity as an artist somehow. I think being an artist is a calling, not a career. I'm still working as an artist, now full-time, and still unravelling exactly who I am and what that means in my relationship to my place in the universe! It's a lifetime committment...and one I'm proud of. The world absolutely needs artists....

Patti Roberts-Pizzuto/MissouriBendStudio

rivergardenstudio said...

Another great article Seth, sadly I think that people decide when they are young that there work isn't art or that they aren't an "artist."
That was one of my greatest challenges as an art teacher to 11 and 12 year olds. To make them believe that they were ARTISTS, with every creation!!!
I love the way you shared your work here. roxanne

Kathryn Dyche said...

As a self taught mixed media artist and someone who's a relative late comer to the art/craft scene, I've definitely struggled with refering to myself as an artist. Even now, when I have to say it out loud I feel a little uncomfortable. I think a lot of that stems from my own baggages of feeling inferior in some way to those with years of training or have been successful in some big way (but what defines success right)?

I've come to realize that there is room for all kinds of artists no matter what their skill set, media, experience,or training and that if you love what you create others will too.

Cynthia Monica said...

A very interesting topic, Seth, and your comments are so valid. I always wanted to be an artist and finally when I quit my "profession", and started making art full time,I began to think of myself as an artist, but had quite a time actually admitting that I "am an artist". I agree with you that it is subjective, and labeling oneself an artist, I think comes from a spiritual place that resonates from the soul...either you feel it, or you don't. I believe it does not matter whether you sell your work, are represented by a gallery, or no one ever sees your work...all that matters is that you follow your path and create. Thanks for bringing up such a great topic!

deb said...

I posted at the other site, but just wanted to add that for me the struggle is re-identification, when you have been one thing for so long (mum) then it is hard to re imagine yourself as something else. I make art, I teach art and those two activities pay my bills, I have the prerequisite formal academic qualifications, a BFA and an MA in Visual culture, from teh outside looking in I am an artist, from the inside looking out I am not confident in this new incarnation, perhaps all it needs is a little more time... perhaps I will always be mum first and self second, I don't know.

MrCachet said...

I left a comment on the other site, Seth. I'll follow this one (and the other) for awhile. I think we all struggle a bit in defining who we are, but I know I'm an artist. It's a gift.

Kimber said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the texture in this piece of art Seth. Very nice!
I posted at length about the word "artist" at the Marketplace. Just want to add here I really like the Wikipedia def you quoted: "a person who expresses themselves through a medium". I think that sums it up nicely.

Mary S. Hunt said...

i like the texture for this piece seth
i love textural pieces anyway...
and i like the colors you use too..

ya know i still get that "oohhh you're an artist huh.." look
like suuurrreee...!
and then ..this kills me
when i meet say some contender who wants a glass panel..lets say for their church
we are talking about what they want (and they never know)
so i say how about...or...and
"oh you can do that...well yeah...
OH you are a real artist..pah
it doesn't bother me..but i think it does bother a lot of others
more sensitive/new to the game/whatever or wherever they might be with their self...eventually tho
and it is too bad this doesn't happen sooner than later
the person says crap on all of the negative thinkers
I AM! what and who I am!!!

Gina Lee Kim said...

Hello Seth. It was so incredibly nice to see you featured on CPS' STUDIOS magazine. What a great smile :)

Texture is what I crave right now and your beautiful work just makes me want more!

I think that sums up an artist.....someone who craves something at such a deep level that he/she must express it somehow (notice it has nothing to do with whether or not you've been represented at a gallery or published a book or even sold a single painting).

Calling myself an artist was the single most life-afirming gift I gave myself. It empowered me to move forward. They say when you pursue your dreams, you don't just achieve your life goals; you are inspiring others to dream too.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, this is a conversation I've had many times with friends and on blogs....I myself speak freely of "making art," but often the words "I'm an artist," don't leave my lips so easily.
Is there a checklist to use? Degree in art, check. Work published, check. Work exhibited, check. Work provides an income, check. Hah...if that were so, only a handful could claim the title.
An emotional issue for sure. I thought that once I had a piece published I would be validated as an artist. Showed the page to people and the first thing I was asked was, "how much did they pay you?" Big gulp....How to admit that I would have gladly paid THEM for the privilege and thrill of being published?
Interesting topic, and fascinating responses so far. So easy answers, of course, but maybe the more we address this, the more likely we'll be to happily use the "A" word.

Anonymous said...

oops....that should be "no easy answers" not "so easy answers" LOL...too little sleep, not enough coffee!

nancy neva gagliano said...

loved the article, so many discussions and inner-voices: i left a lengthy response there. yadayada....not nearly as articulate as you, of course. thanks for putting it out there ... since i'm 'playing' with making, when asked 'what do you do?'...i revert back to the ole 'i haven't declared a major yet'. interesting reactions i say that.

Barbara Mason said...

This is a very stimulating question Seth. I think an artist can take many forms in a person. Is the musician an artist weather I care for his work or that he is paid or not, what about a skilled surgeon doing a creative repair on yards of intestine???
Is it the shear amount of creativity and soulfulness that one brings to a project defining enough? Must art make money, be appreciated by an audience,be published and have formal training to make the creator worthy of the word "Artist"? If we do not call ourselves artists, is it the fear of the responsibility of the A word? Perhaps people will expect to see Picasso or Monet quality work spewing from our "canvas"...
I have always said I am artistic, & now say that I work in Mixed Media. I did have some formal training along the path and have earned my living for many years as a designer and jeweler( is that an artist?)

I am looking forward to reading all the responses, Seth - a great discussion to bring forth!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi Seth, Great article.. I used to think it was too pretentious for us to call ourselves Artists, but now I think it is just plain Fun... although I am not one for labels.. if anyone calls me an Artist I am very flattered!!!

I do love your decomposing and disintegrating "A".. I would love to touch it...

mansuetude said...

the texture with its dance of colors half revealed makes a sort of music of depths and rhythms.

Going to read the article.
There is a great feminist essay about women and writing that touches on this topic--i wish i could quote it off top of my head, I would get an "A" lol for memory but i can't get it right now to pop up!

Kathleen Harrington said...

Hi Seth,

Left a comment about the Artist discussion on the other site. On this blog, I wanted to say how much I love your A. The texture is so yummy and the colors are just right. It somehow reminds me of schoolyards. Too bad you can't send it around to all of us so we can see it in person. The Traveling A.

Parabolic Muse said...

This is SO AWESOME!! I won't even call is awesome, because that's used too much. It's absolutely beyond awesome.

How do you do this?

Okay, I'm off to the link to blab about what I think.

think link! hehe!

Anonymous said...

Great article Seth, I left a comment on the other site.
I hope many people that do art get a chance to read this article. I know I will be forwarding to a lot of people!!!

nichole said...

Thought-provoking and true.

I love your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine.

Anonymous said...

A is for Artist
A is also for Apter

Caterina Giglio said...

oooh that A is just so visually chewy!
after teaching the Artist's Way for years, I have come to the conclusion that comparisons start so early in life and we grow up living inside boxes that have labels.
I was fortunate to be given the label artist early on, but others have no identification with it and though they yearn for it, those odious comparisons keep coming up in their minds and hearts... how could one compete with a GREAT ARTIST... picasso, van gogh etc? for many, the masters equate artist...
and... I think there are still some negative connotations associated with artists..
there is a lot to overcome mentally....
blah, blah blah!! LOL!! I will go read your article : D
bet it gets an A!!

laurel said...

Absolutely love the textures in this. Now off to follow the link.

jiLy Zaheer said...

What a wonderful post about your MMCA article. Just love the comments and responses it has triggered. I left a comment on that site but have been reflecting a bit more on A is for Artist as i read the poignant comments from your post.
Growing up, i loved art, arts and crafts and was both in a 4H group as a member and was a leader of a 4H group of girls where I taught art projects with all kinds of crafts materials. Throughout school- i just loved everything "art" but like some of your readers, didn't feel i was "good enough" to go into it as a profession- to make a living from the "limited" skill set I judged myself to have. So instead, I went into the field of public health-another passion I had - but it was not art. The term artist wasn't something i thought about- or used as a term to describe myself. The term i used was "artistic" as an adjective- but not the noun- artist. 30 + years later, I and my life have traveled to another place. As some may know, i've recently had brain surgery for a brain abscess- and i am just so grateful to be alive and blessed to be able to see and have all my receiving senses. Interesting though, is the definition of the word artist for me now. I believe calling oneself an artist is the connection and bond i have to my world around me- the colors, textures, the lights, senses, layers, changes in emotion when i see something that stirs me to feel- any change in my aura- that is such a gift and one i feel humbled to be treasured with. The understanding and feel for light, sounds, vibrations, energies, movement of your soul to feel passion- that is what an artist is to me- independent of "skill set, level, judgement of quality, compensation, whether you exhibit, have a blog, etsy or are published. If you feel you have art in your soul, then you meet my definition of ARTIST. And you dear Seth, are on the top of my list!! ;)