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  • Writer's picturesaradean84

Who Is An Artist?

I have a beef with the "artist community". And I realize this is a slippery, uncontainable group, so bear with me.

My beef is, basically, that I don't think I'm in it. There, I said it. I said a thing I didn't want to admit. I feel like an outsider. Am I an artist? Well, yeah, kinda, I guess? I make art. I love art by other artists. I occasionally make money by selling my artwork. So why does it feel so weird to call myself one?

I know I'm not alone in feeling this way, because I talked to other people about it. I talked to another person about it. It was my sister. My sister-in-law, actually. And she's a poet, but also has a certain discomfort with labeling herself.

I can't figure out if it's because the "artist community" is unwelcoming, or if it's because the "artist community" is made up of a bunch of people who are used to working alone through their own shit, and by their very nature, cannot be bothered with the outside influences while "in the zone". What is it? Is it both??

A little backstory on me, personally. I have always been an artist. There are home videos of me coloring as a toddler. Somewhere. They're not digital, because I am an elder millenial. But they exist! In my elementary years, when everyone was starting to make plans for their future careers, I always included artist in the list of jobs I planned on having.

I have decades of examples of work I have done- poured time and thought and love into. Some were school assignments, some were personal projects. Throughout grade school and college and post-college, I have been visited by inspiration, and then acted upon it! Over and over again - it comes like a whisper, then a nag, then an obsession until it gets made. Is this how it works for other artists and creatives? I am assuming yes.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the artist community.

I have always worked alone. There have been some creative endeavors that required collaboration - A major one being home improvement/home design projects with my husband. But the majority have been me creating out of a personal inspiration. Alone.

Recently I had the honor to be selected for a local public art project. I created my own design and executed it, and it was displayed very prominently in a very public location, and lots and lots of people saw it and enjoyed it. It gave me a great sense of validation. For the moment. But now that that's over, am I really an artist?

My answer, whether I choose to believe myself on any given day, is yes. AND so are you. I read this little uncredited meme on the internet a few days ago and it echoes my feelings.

I tell my kids some version of this constantly. Maybe you don't want to be an artist. That's fine, but I still think you are. I think human beings are a creative species, and that applies to myriad of subjects.

I think art is a combination of communicating, problem solving, vulnerability, and creating. That could apply to a painting, a music piece, or a badass Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

SO IN CONCLUSION (said in a Cher Horowitz voice), I think asking "Who Is An Artist?" may be the wrong question. We all are. Maybe I'm gonna start asking people "What medium do you work in?" And now we are all included in this elusive artist community.

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