We all know what it takes to be an artist… and we ain’t got it.
Ladies and gentlemen, don’t believe everything your cultural conditioning tells you.
Here are 5 things you learned about being an artist that are, well, just not true:
1. Artists need an art studio.
Studios are very nice, it’s true, and I love the studio space that Nicki and I have shared since last year—but for years before that, I didn’t have a dedicated studio space. Sometimes all I had was a tote bag with portable supplies and a sketchbook. That didn’t stop me from making art. You can enjoy a daily or weekly art practice with minimal supplies and nearly any work surface (a table, countertop, floor, or lap). Or borrow someone else’s studio by taking a class or workshop.
2. Artists have a mysterious quality called “talent.”
This is a longstanding argument, and I don’t know if I have the “right” answer, but here’s my own personal answer that works for me: We are all artists. We all have special talents. Maybe your talent isn’t to be found in oil painting (hey, me either!), but if you work with your hands and mind and heart to create wonderful and interesting things that weren’t there before, you’re an artist in my book.
And here’s the other thing: visual art skills can be learned. I wasn’t born knowing how to draw—I learned it, just like I learned how to sew by hand and to make scrambled eggs. There may be such a thing as artistic talent, but curiosity is all you need to get started being an art-ist (someone who makes art).
3. Artists make paintings or drawings or sculptures.
Some of them do; some of them don’t. Take a look at the ephemeral environmental art of Andy Goldsworthy, or the contemporary art quilts by Joanie San Chirico. My own artwork can’t be defined simply in terms of painting or drawing because I like mixing multiple kinds of materials and processes.
4. Artists must devote themselves full-time to making art.
That’s a nice thought, isn’t it? But back in the real world, most of us have to integrate our art with the rest of our lives. When it comes to claiming an artist identity for yourself, here’s how it works: You get to be an art-ist if you make art (or want to)… regardless of how often you do it (or have never done it before). If making art is important to you, if you can’t imagine never making your art again for the rest of your life (or never giving it a try), you’re an artist.
Seriously, this is important: What makes you an artist is the creative spark inside.
5. Artists are all crazy.
Nah, that’s just a rumor. Sure, mental illness and substance abuse have popped up here and there among artists for centuries, but it happened alongside the art-making, not because of it. There are lots of perfectly sane and happy artists out there in the world right now. You can be one of them.
So, what’s your art?
Cross-stitch, woodworking, baking, scrapbooking, writing, singing… There are hundreds of ways to express yourself creatively. Leave a comment to share your favorite way to get creative.
P.S. If you’re in the Greensboro area, check out our Stained Glass Accordion Book workshop coming up June 2. It’ll be our last art workshop until the summer schedule begins in July… and registration ends today!