When Is It Okay To Call Yourself An Artist?

You eat, sleep and breathe art. You swoon over the great artists of the past. So much so, that when you hear the word “artist,” they are all you can think about. But let me ask you this: Do you consider yourself an artist? 

Who me? Oh no no no. I’m nowhere near the Picassos and Van Goghs of this world. Hell, I’m not even on Duchamp’s level. 

Okay. I see you have very high standards for the word “artist.” In your opinion, when can a person call themself an artist?

Oh, I don’t know. I’m not in any position to dictate that for other people… but I suppose if I had to say, I guess it would be when a person gets an art job. Like… one that pays them in real money. 

Hmm. I think I have to politely disagree with you.

Surely, that is a very big achievement in a creative person’s life, and those people can easily call themselves artists. But, I don’t believe it is a requirement for every artist. There are, and were, plenty of amazingly creative people out there that have never gotten paid for their work throughout their entire lives.

So please humor me, and try again. A littler earlier than your last guess.

Earlier, huh? Well, I guess that would be when they graduate art school. Then they can absolutely call themself an artist. They’ve got that huge tuition, a degree, all of those hoops they had to jump through. Yes, art school graduates have certainly earned the title. 

I see you disagree again. 

Yes, and I’ll tell you why.

While furthering your education in art can be an excellent thing to do, ultimately it’s a personal choice. It is not for everyone, and it is certainly not required to call yourself an artist.

There are plenty of people, past and present, that have never gone to college or art school, and are still doing wonderful things in the art world.

So no, college does not an artist make. Art is something already inside of you, driving you forward enough to ask when it’s okay to call yourself an artist in the first place.

But I didn’t ask that. You’re making me answer it just to tell me I’m wro-

– Just one more guess, and I’ll leave you alone… please?

Alright. I think I’ve got you on this one. A person can call themself an artist when they sell their first piece of work. They’ve been creating nonstop for a good long while, working hard and getting their name out there, and finally, finally, someone has noticed their work and has decided to pay them money to own it. A moment as big as that, has to be when a person feels comfortable enough to call themself an artist. 

OH, COME ON!

To be fair, you make a valid point. And while that is a huge step for an artist, I truly don’t believe it’s necessary for the title.

Alright, just tell me when. 

Okay. In my very humble opinion… you can call yourself an artist whenever you damn well please.

Go on… 

People are born with creativity in their hearts. Some more than others, as I feel it is destined for some people to make art, but I’m pretty sure it’s always been there for everybody. How much a person nurtures that when they grow up is entirely up to them.

But those that do nurture it and make the decision for themselves that yes, they want to be an artist… are artists already. Whether they know it or not.

Art is a decision, and to make that particular decision is a difficult thing to do. Because why would you choose to have constant rejection, competition and self doubt be a part of your lifestyle? To push through all of the trails of the art world, and still have the ability to even want to create more beautiful things, is enough to earn you that title of “artist.”

While you were right that getting an art job, graduating art school and selling your work for the first time can be wonderful things… they are not what being an artist is about. Because the fact is that most artists don’t make art for achievements and accolades. They make it because they have to.

There is an inner voice driving them forward to create. And when things get rough, they make that decision again and again that art is what they want to be.

I just hope you know that even though things are tough right now, and that you may be experiencing doubt and creative block and everything else that comes with choosing art… that you are still an artist. Through and through, you are an artist. Already and forever.

… Thank you.
Kayla

7 thoughts on “When Is It Okay To Call Yourself An Artist?

  1. Fantastic post Kayla, I totally agree with you. Making art is something that I myself I’m compelled to do and it makes all manner of ills disappear when doing so, the sense of deep personal achievement, the feeling of climbing a mountain and succeeding. In short art is for everyone and not an elite few who sneer at others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always have a problem labeling myself as anything because the moment I say I am something I feel obligated to be that thing and embody it completely, so I’d rather just be who I am and let others say what they want

    Like

    1. I really believe people should feel free to call themself an artist whenever they want. Even if it’s not calling themself that at all. It’s whatever a person is comfortable with, really.

      What I would hate to see, and what was one of the main things I was trying to convey in this post, is a person not calling themself an artist because of self doubt or a lack of confidence.

      Thank you for your interesting perspective!

      Liked by 2 people

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