“Wow, you’re really good at drawing . . . you could be an artist.” You’ve heard it before. And the most common response: “Oh NO, I just do this for fun. I’m not a real artist.”
Why is it that most people who make art, or have an interest in making art, are uncomfortable calling themselves “an Artist?”
It’s as if there are special qualities one must possess or some invisible line that must be crossed before you can call yourself an artist. Can anyone be an artist?
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, an Artist is “one who professes and practices an imaginative art,” or “a person skilled in one of the fine arts.” If we accept this definition of an artist, it is true that anyone can become an artist. After all, technically speaking, you only must profess (or say) you are an artist and practice an imaginative art. Even if you aren’t currently practicing, you are an artist if you are skilled in one of the fine arts.
Merriam-Webster defines an artist rather broadly. There is are no qualifications other than just being an artist. Say it and make it.
The real question is, why is it so uncomfortable saying you are an artist?
Getting comfortable calling yourself an artist is another matter. And unfortunately, there is no set amount of art making that will make you comfortable calling yourself an artist.
For some people, calling yourself an artist feels grandiose, or like bragging. “Look at me, I’m an artist!” And it would be bragging if you define the word “artist” as someone who is particularly special, capable of doing what no one else can do.
But if you’re an artist, and comfortable calling yourself one, you already know the truth. Being an “artist” is a lot like being a “runner.” Runners are named for the activity they are engaging in – anyone can run. Being called a runner doesn’t mean you’re an elite marathon runner. It doesn’t even mean you’re good at it. You’re just . . . a runner. No biggie.
At What Point Can You Call Yourself an Artist?
Like Merriam-Webster says, you’re ready to call yourself an artist when you profess that you are an artist and you are practicing an imaginative art. There’s really no magical moment when this happens. It happens when you decide it happened. Suddenly, making art has become part of your identity and you realize, you are an artist.
No one needs to see your art and judge it worthy enough. Actually, no one needs to even know about you or your art for it to be absolutely true that you are an artist. You just have to decide, profess it, and make art.
Anyone can be an artist. According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, you’re an artist if you say you’re an artist and you make art. There are no criteria noted for approvals, accolades, sales or solo shows. There is no magic moment. Runners run and artists make art.