As I've been reading blogs and tweets and articles, and talking with other artist friends, I have noticed that it's difficult for some creative people to refer to themselves as artists. There's a tendency to apologize for being creative, and spending time in creative endeavors. This strikes a chord with me, because I, too, still fight feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.
I remember having a conversation quite a few years ago with another artist friend, about whether we were artists with a capital "A" or a lower case "a". I'll give us credit for the fact that we were even talking about being artists, as I felt that just referring to myself that way was somehow unthinkable. Years later, it seems somewhat sad that we even contemplated a difference. Which brings me to the question, what is the mystique of calling oneself an artist? Why is it so difficult to claim the title?
David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book "Art and Fear" talk about the "view of artmaking today - namely, that art rests fundamentally upon talent, and that talent is a gift randomly built into some people and not into others." In other words, the artist has been given a gift and is able to create great works of art because of this alone. Prodigies are rare, but as a culture we've all bought into the image. Speaking for myself, it leaves me with feelings of insecurity, and wondering if I'm "talented" enough.
Intellectually, I know, art is made by ordinary people. People who work hard to learn the basics; who produce a lot of work that ends up in the waste basket. While talent might be a step in the proverbial direction, it's really an issue of passion. When the desire to create overcomes the fear of not being perfect, one can make marks on the paper, or put brush to canvas or cut the fabric. When I'm not thinking about the end result, but focusing on the process, I learn something. What I'm producing in that moment may not be the best work of art I've ever done, but the knowledge gained from creating it will be put to use on the next piece. It's the passion that makes me want to go the next step, create the next piece. It may end up as part of the trash tomorrow, but today, it's what I do.
So, what about others? Is it difficult for you to call yourself an artist? And if not, have you always been able to? I welcome your comments.