what is an artist?

I’ve called myself an ‘artist’ online, but it was mainly for convenience, because I was making a painting / drawing blog. Sometimes it seems every man, woman and their dog out there is an artist or writer or otherwise Creative Being who suffers for at least two hours a day on the Great Task. Myself included.

But do we designate ourselves as artists, or is it a title that is bestowed upon us by the community? Is the writing of words, the drawing of pictures, or the assembling of found items what makes the artist?

Picasso said that art washes from the soul ‘the dust of everyday life’. Just one of a million theories of what art is or does. What if it removes the dust from one person’s soul and not another’s? What if purposefully adds more dust, or doesn’t have any impact whatsoever? And keep in mind that Picasso also said that women are either goddesses or doormats. So sometimes I wonder why I’d listen to him at all. I can be a goddess and a doormat, all in the same hour. And a million other things.

Anyway. Is art the meeting of craft, intention and audience response? I’ve always felt that I’m becoming an artist, but it’s always not yet, not ready yet. This tells me that my understanding of art must be something like the above. The attainment of a high level of craft (even if that craft is expressed in non-traditional forms). The intention to create an artwork and the commitment to see it through. The courage and ability to share that work. And the striving, the constant striving to become a more perfect vessel for the communication of that great big Something.

“You raved and you bitched when you came home about the stupidity of audiences. The goddam ‘unskilled laughter’ coming from the fifth row. And that’s right, that’s right — God knows it’s depressing. I’m not saying it isn’t. But that’s none of your business, really. That’s none of your business, Franny. An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.”

–       JD Salinger, Franny and Zooey

pastel drawing of a white horse

This is one of my favourite drawings, but I never finished it. What does that say about my idea of becoming an artist? At least I finish my written work.


3 thoughts on “what is an artist?

  1. Pingback: Writing is it an Art Or a Craft? Acting is it an Art or a Craft? | seventhvoice

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