I was reading a blog post this morning from another local Lake County artist who I respect and admire. She posted a blog post that got me thinking and when I went respond I found myself starting practically an essay of thought of my own so I decided maybe this is something that others might have a lot of thoughts on as well.
In the blog she speaks of the famous quote by conceptual artist, Joseph Beuys, “Everyone is an Artist,” and her initial knee jerk negative response to that statement. She does a great job in researching the context of that quote and then goes further into her thoughts. (Click on her post title to read it in full.)
The interesting thing for me is even before I read the context it was stated in, I’d have to say I do agree with the statement by Beuys and still do.
As with Leisa, I too have at one point or another felt a little tug of defensiveness in my creative life as an artist. Having someone refer to detailed drawings (that have sometimes taken as much as 20 hours to complete) as a sketch is one sure way to do it and I myself have looked at some contemporary art (as which she references in her post) and said that’s not art it’s a political statement etc. Funny thing though as my artistic life matures and grows it seems to also find more room for ideas I never considered. I am really enjoying that right now and maybe that is why I felt so compelled to respond with my perspective.
I am delving more into the abstract, something that has never interested me in the past and I am finding a whole new artistic vocabulary. I think if I start to really look at separating technical skills I learned in school from creative vision then that statement of “everyone is an artist” can be accepted more fully. Also, the fact that there are good art and bad art factors heavily into that although that can be quite subjective from person to person. Because something is technically poorly executed doesn’t mean it isn’t art. It was someones creative expression none the less.
For me, I do feel everyone has creativity within them and harnessing their particular set of skills and talents to make that vision reality does make a person an artist. I personally don’t think it belittles any other artist’s hard work and mastery of skills as there is room for all of our unique creative voices. I also think the mastery of our skills and the balance of skills with vision are what set artists apart.
Too much emphasis technical mastery and the art is more so an exercise in copying something beautifully. It lacks energy and emotion. Art is not about who can copy the subject the best, it is about personal expression and how we uniquely see something and trying to convey that to others. Mastering technique takes skill and hard work but I don’t think that is what makes us an artist. I think it just helps us define what type of artist we are.
That being said, the bigger question in my mind is “What kind of artist are you?”