So you want to be an artist? Or you already consider yourself one, but are not sure if your idea of ‘what it means to be an artist’ is outdated an outdated one. With time, all things change and so it is true for the nature of art and what it means to call oneself an artist. So, what does it mean to be an artist today?
In the 21st century it seems that anyone with creative or artistic abilities, who is able to translate these into works in various mediums is considered an artist. This applies to visual artists as well as musicians.
The modern artist must be adaptive and able to evolve with the ever changing artistic environments and markets.
The term ‘artist’ is incredibly broad and there are so many varieties of art forms and niches in each of these.
So, if you consider yourself an artist, or would like to pursue becoming one, or maybe you are just curious as to what it takes to be an artist; then this article is for you.
What Does It Mean To Be An Artist?
To start, we need to restate that being an artist is anyone with a creative flair who is able to transfer their visions into actual pieces of work, in whichever medium or form they choose.
This is often subjective though and some who call themselves artists may not be considered as such by their peers, based on various factors.
However, as long as you are well versed in a particular area of art and constantly developing, then you should be able to comfortably see yourself as an ‘artist’, but – and herein lies the rub – obviously, in order to be taken seriously, many would argue that one needs to be perpetually creating.
For instance, if you want to call yourself a poet, writing one poem and leaving it at that, according to most individuals, would not be sufficient.
A true poet would study the art of poetry; know the rules and structures that would be applicable and also know how to bend those rules in order to enhance their work or to make the work specifically their “own”.
An artist must constantly be actively engaged in their medium, so if you are a poet or aspire to become one, you need to be reading poetry, good and bad, studying the various forms and styles and then most importantly, putting that knowledge into practice, by actually writing.
What Does It Mean To Be A Real Artist?
We live in an era where art is no longer really under the scrutiny of a curator and anyone with a social media following can create works and give themselves the title of an artist.
It is a tricky and slippery slope as who is to say whether someone is or is not a real artist? In the 21st century though, sales tend to define success.
One barometer which we could potentially use to define a true artist, be they a singer, painter, actor, sculptor, designer, poet, and so on, is one who does not pride themselves in the number of likes, followers or quality of their selfies, but who is predominantly concerned with the excellence and originality of their work.
Some key points to look out for, when wanting to identify a real artist:
1. Their focus and energy is on their work and not solely on selling their brand.
Yes, one needs to be able to sell the product, but at the end of the day you are an artist first and a business person second.
2. They generally do it for the love of the work and not the money.
Your passion needs to be what drives you; otherwise it will be like any other job.
3. They visibly ooze passion where their work is concerned.
If your art does not stir you and get you excited, then you have a problem on your hands.
4. They do not obsess over what critics think and say about their work.
Criticism can be useful, but an artist needs to take it from whence it comes and learn to roll with the punches.
5. They are constantly fine-tuning their abilities.
An artist who does not aim to grow their knowledge and expertise will ultimately stagnate.
6. They stay humble and never allow their success or fame to go to their heads.
Being arrogant often blinds one to one’s shortcomings and inhibits growth and development.
Instead, by staying grounded, you realize that there is always more learning to be done and room for improvement.
What Does Being An Independent Artist Mean?
In short being an independent artist simply means that you are not signed or under contract. These types of artists work for themselves and sell their work independently. They have no contractual obligations; they can work whenever it pleases them.
They are also not required to do projects that they may otherwise not wish to be a part of. Also, as an independent artist, you are able to keep all your earnings (minus costs, obviously) and they maintain ownership of the copyright and creative control of their work.
What Qualities Do You Need To Be An Artist?
The first and most obvious is the need to have a creative personality, but being creative is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to become a successful artist, you will need an array of other traits in your toolbox.
Being stubbornly determined to succeed is probably the major key to breaking through from being an aspiring artist to one who is actually able to turn your talent into a successful career. Perseverance will play a huge role in your make or break.
You need to have immense passion for the art that you are creating; without passion the work is just that, work. You need to get up each day and be driven by a fire within your heart to create no matter what the challenges.
Lastly you need to be self -critical, but also note that this does not mean nitpicking every aspect of your work. Instead, try to use a third person/objective perspective and analyze your work to see what you may be able to do better in the future.
Who Can Be Called An Artist?
This is an area where there is a blurring of the lines, as pretty much anything that comes about by creative conception and is then created, could be called art.
Things such as jewelry making, fashion design, blowing glass, ceramics and architecture, could be considered art. However, generally speaking, to be called an artist, one’s work would slot into one of the following categories: visual art, graphic art, performance art, decorative art, literature, motion picture, mixed media, and digital art (note: this list may not encompass all forms which constitute art).
At the end of the day though, in order to don the cap of an artist, one must have the ability to conceptualize, generate and create any form of art which others can consume and appreciate.
Art takes many forms and a real artist is someone who is constantly evolving. They are aware of the changes in the industry and yet have an in-depth knowledge of the roots of their art form and its various styles. They are constantly developing and always focused on improving their craft.
I hope you enjoyed reading What Does it Mean to Be an Artist and learned something new. Feel free to share this post with other artists or aspiring artists on social!
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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash