What is art? What does it mean to be an artist? Novice artists all have to struggle with self-doubt and many such questions. Some artists continue to consider or even agonize over these and related issues throughout their “careers”. But for many artists a few years of daily work and habit will provide some answers. And for me it comes down to something very simple: it is making art that makes the artist.
Professional artists, collectors, art critics, and others who make money in the art world may deny “amateur” artists the full status, reserving the title, or at least their respect, for those artists who sell their work. But must the “real” artist manage to live off the proceeds of their art? That makes little sense; many “professional” artists, successful or otherwise, are subsidized by family members for years before achieving financial success, or they may start out with independent means. Other artists teach or make much of their income from lectures, workshops, or unrelated occupations. Many loved and respected artists, now dead, never did achieve much financial or critical success in their own lifetimes.
Artworks in a museum or two certainly give artists a level of credibility, even respect. But of course not every artist will have their work noticed, let alone acquired, by a museum, especially during their lifetime! That is neither a measure of quality or a necessity for the definition of an artist. Rather it is a matter of visibility & marketing.
Art is subjective, personal, and in the eye of the beholder. This is so evident from the wide variety of things and actions that we may classify as art. I am primarily interested in the artist as maker; that is the maker of things, of objects that endure, rather than the maker of performance art and happenings.
And a side note; although I am willing now to say “I am an artist.”, I do still prefer to say that I make things! Too many people have firm prior convictions around what an artist is & does! And of course, these convictions are oh so varied!
As my daily work to create becomes a long term practice, I have new questions and new issues! What to do with all that much loved finished work? Yes, I do still love much of it! And how do I get just a little bit, just enough, interaction and engagement about my artwork?
To be continued … in Art Making, the Journey #2