Monday, April 2, 2012

What Makes An Artist An Artist?

When I was younger I had a friend who had an above ground pool. In the summer we would run around the inside of the pool creating a current that would make a whirlpool. The random leaves that may have fallen would whirl around and get funneled into the center. We would stop running, hang onto the side, and feel the current tug us. Sometimes you could fight the current, try to swim against it but really if you just let go, relaxed, you went with the flow and enjoyed the ride.
There is a philosophy that if all good things were easy then everyone would have them. A philosophy I agree with - to a point. You need to make the effort, put in the work, and your time will come. But when do obstacles turn into battles?
This weekend Rob and I took a trip to see an old warehouse that is being turned into live/work space for artists in Lowell, MA. The lofts looked gorgeous online, and even better in person. I knew that there may be some obstacles if this was the place we decided to start our new adventure. For one we would both need new employment in the area, two we really didn't know this area very well, and three I would need to prove myself as an artist.
In a couple of days I put together my artist resume, figured out how to create a slideshow full of my work, and like most things I do put extra effort into it by decorating my applications envelope. Knowing I would need to fight the current a little on some of the other obstacles I gained up all my strength. We explained the effort we would put in, we advised that we would show them we could do it, we fought against that current.
But the real shock came when I was told I'm not an artist. What?! I don't have a college degree in art, my items haven't been in galleries, and someone who is recognized already as an artist in the art community needs to say I am an artist. This is the point where the obstacles became a battle.
Instead of trying to swim against the current I have decided to let go and enjoy the ride. It has made me ponder the idea, what makes an artist an artist? Is it a college degree that someone spends time and money to get? Is it the gallery that you pay to put your art on the wall to be viewed by others? Who decides if what you create is considered "art"?
My definition is if you create it, with your own free thought, it is art. It takes skills, imagination, and creativity. It's the original ideas and the way you interpret them that make you an artist. While the initial comment of someone telling me I'm not an artist hurt, I know in my heart that is just an opinion - it is not a fact!
Don't ever let anyone tell you who you are or are not. YOU are the only one who gets to decide that.


greenrabbitdesigns said...

Here, here Amanda!
So glad this hasn't put you off what you want to achieve.
V x

Jenniffer said...

Amanda- this is a True and very beautiful post. I question the true creativity behind that kind of closed-mindedness. I applaud your courage in going forth with this. Art is your way of life- it's obvious from your blog. It's why I enjoy seeing what you are up to. At least that is one 'artist's' opinion.

artist said...

I just found you blog via Flickr. I love to paint and so visited that area first on your blog. What the art warehouse people said in Lowell, MA made me so sad.

I have been an artist for a long time and even though my work has been published and I continue to take workshops with nationally known artist - just because I don't have a degree, other artists with degrees have said that I'm not an artist.

Keep being creative and being an artist. From what I can see you are one.