Are You An Artist?

Last Friday on our breakfast date, our conversation became heavy, man, heavy. I’m not gonna lie – there were even some tears right there in the restaurant, on my end of course, because of all of the ideas and emotions that I hadn’t realized I had been holding in for so long, but during this conversation, Jeremy mentioned a few things about artists and what he feels makes an artist, which got me thinking about one of my FYE assignments I have yet to finish (my goal for January 2012!). (OK, so it started out Historian vs. non-Historian, but then turned to artists, but that’s beside the point.)
So, what you will see below is a continuation of thoughts from this past Friday, as well as answers to specific questions from the assignment: some that I’ve thought about before, while others I haven’t given much thought to before skimming through the assignment, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I go.

In my opinion art is an expression of what is seen with the heart via the eyes, hands, body, etc. There is a famous quote I found in the bathroom of one of my students’ buildings: “One eye sees, the other feels,” by Paul Klee, a Swiss painter. I feel this definitely rings true in relation to my idea of the definition of art. Art to me is an expression of vision in both the literal and metaphorical sense. When emotion comes through the piece, that is art to me, and I love when I feel that I can relate to the piece of work as well. I strive to express how I feel in my images, to share the story/emotions I see and/or feel, and I hope that it shows through. Finding one’s vision is definitely an ongoing task, and is something that I continuously work on.

In relation to this, I believe that artists are those who have a true passion for creating and working with their mediums. They are those who spend time working on and bettering their craft, whether that’s by reading about it, practicing it, taking classes, becoming inspired by others, or (hopefully) a mix of many or all of the above – and then some. So many times we are scared to really say we are artists because as soon as we say this, we are putting our hearts on our sleeves for all the world to rip off and tear apart, and that’s a scary thought. However, I’m continuously finding that it’s worth the risk because there are more loving, wonderful people out there willing to support you than you might think. There are also times when it is scary to say you are “_________” because you feel like maybe you are a poser – especially if you haven’t sold your work yet. But c’mon. Didn’t that phrase die out in middle school? 😉 It took me a while to actually believe that I could possibly be an *gulp* artist, but I personally think that if you are really passionate about what you are doing and creating, and continuously striving to do/become better at your art/craft, then you are an artist. Today I give you permission to state that you are in fact what you so truly want to be. Go on, say it: “I’m an artist.” Now yell it: “I AM AN ARTIST!” Now sing it while patting your head, rubbing your tummy, and hopping up and down on one foot, while spinning in a circle… You get the point, just say it, and believe it.

Believe it, be brave, and share your heart with the world because I truly believe the world needs art. (Yes, there is also a need for logistics, business, math, science, etc., as these are all super important, and definitely not without their own form of creativity, but that topic is deeply worthy enough for a-whole-nother post!) I love hearing others share stories, and deep down I think the world needs to share these stories more, especially within the field of art. We have so many copyright laws (not that I particularly condone pirating and/or plagiarism), but there are so many ideas revolving around the fear of our work being stolen that I think often we forget how important it is to share. I know I’ve been guilty of it, but art is one way of sharing your story, your life, your perspective, and the world could use a way to make your uniqueness “ours,” so to speak. Call me what you wish, but I truly believe we are here for a purpose and that it is important to share that purpose with the world. I definitely advise taking precautions, but more important than that is going after what you want with the fierce passion God has placed in you, and share it so that we can all better from it.

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes there are days where it’s still hard for me to consider myself an artist – especially when I just can’t get the shot. Like so many, there are days where I am afraid to actually admit it, let alone admit that just maybe I’m also a photographer – what?! – as I have yet to really get my business off the ground (another goal for early-mid 2012!). But I think it is so important to take this emotionally risky step if you really want to move forward. I recently sold some of my images for the first time – per request(!) – and I’ll be honest, I was a little shocked. Why, though? I love the images, my classmates loved the images, but I think that was the point when I realized that, yes, I am an artist, and yes, I need to step out on a ledge and admit it. I also think that deep down I had always thought it, but until that point, I had not been brave enough to admit it. (Eep! What will people think?!) Thanks to that little blessing, though, I finally realized that it’s time to quit fearing what others will think and believe it, admit that this is what I want to do, my passion, a large part of who I am, and I hope that you will admit this about your craft, too – whatever it may be – especially if you are as passionate about your craft as I am, and you put as much time and effort into your art as I do.

Believe. Be brave. Share.

How about it? Are you and artist?