Everyone is an artist…What type of artist are you?

WhatKindOfArtistAreYouI 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.

Leisa Corbett  wrote a blog post entitled: Everybody is an artist- sounds great, right?

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?”

17 thoughts on “Everyone is an artist…What type of artist are you?

  1. Having heard this my whole artistic life – we are all artists, yes we are, and we are all scientists, and we are all teachers too. Some are better at it than others. It doesn’t lessen us to accept the whole world into being an artist, but just like I want a good scientist to test out my seat belt, I want a good artist to identify the masterpieces in our world, form a seat of knowledge and talent. Then I will add my choice and opinion and stand on that. I like especially your comment on the technically poor rendering as a measure of whether something is not good art. A child can render love with a crayon, and an artist can miss the point entirely!
    Nice posting and I agree! It doesn’t matter really what everyone else is doing, just do your art and smile.

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      • Thanks for considering thoughts expressed in my blog and giving such a thoughtful response, It’s great to exchange ideas with artists who have grappled with the same concepts and struggled with self-definition. I would like to clarify one point- I definitely don’t think that technical competence is more important than the ideas, emotion, and energy in an artwork. I find that the better I become technically, the more I can create what I’ve envisioned. I don’t get hung up on technical problems or lack of certain skills anymore.

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      • Leisa,

        Thanks so much for adding to the conversation that your very thought provoking post provided. I’m sorry if I made it seem as if that was your sole opinion…Actually, your comment of your technical skills counting for something making a difference is I think that made me meander in that direction. I agree about what you say about becoming more technically adept to help you bring to fruition what your artistic vision is… And of course the synergy of it all coming together makes beautiful blissful artistic statements that rise above the rest. I’m looking seeing more of your artistic bliss in the near future!

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    • You cover so much territory here that my thoughts are going in many directions! I’ve also heard people says everyone is creative/everyone’s an artist, etc., but I’ve also met people who swear they are not creative at all.

      Perhaps they’re defining artistry too narrowly. I just re-watched the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, about the 83-year-old sushi master in Tokyo. Watching him work is certainly an experience of watching an artist perform, but he defines himself not as an artist but a perfectionist, and his life goal is to do his work perfectly. So in this case, I’m experiencing a work of art that the artist doesn’t believe is art. What an odd perspective!

      I love what eightdecades said: “I want a good artist to identify the masterpieces in our world, form a seat of knowledge and talent. Then I will add my choice and opinion and stand on that.” In university Literary Criticism classes, we applied that same concept. Culture helps us identify the best of all art, but then there is room for personal choice within the entire body of art.

      Because you’ve been technically trained, you use terms that have specific meanings, where the untrained might make gaffes like calling a drawing a sketch. But I believe when one sees a work that moves and inspires them, they recognize the effort and talent involved, whether they can put it into proper words or not. I imagine that your technical training helps you translate an abstract idea into a piece of art much more efficiently and effectively than one with no training and little practice. Imagine how much more effective you’ll be at abstract design in a year or two!

      See, my thoughts have gone in so many directions. What kind of artist am I? I know what I love; but I don’t know how to define myself by that question. What I do know is that my photography teaches me to see more deeply and notice more than before, which helps my writing and scene description. Character development in my novels brings me more compassion and nuance in my relationships with people and helps me focus on each person’s uniqueness. Learning to make abstract art is teaching me how to work with synesthesia, the blending of the five senses, and translating the ineffable into the tangible. Each new creative endeavor is informed by and enhanced by what I’ve learned before; and I agree with your idea: “as my artistic life matures and grows it seems to also find more room for ideas I never considered.”

      All that said, there is and always has been some bias against art and artists, as if what we do is not real work or necessary in the world. Practical creativity, such as inventing a wheel or a vaccine, is respected in ways that the decorative or the entertaining is not. I think that’s why some people shy away from considering the creativity or the artist in themselves. But like eightdecades said: “just do your art and smile.”

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      • You make so many wonder points that I am not sure where to begin. I like the point you make of defining artistry to narrowly And maybe that is in a large part the point to consider. If we broadened our view of what constitutes creativity, as I think the original quote was getting at, then we are all truly artists because at the core we are all creative beings. I love the examples you give because it truly takes thinking outside the box to get those end results.

        I also love how you bring together your creative vision into synergy with one another. Again there, it’s the various tools you are choosing to express and nurture that creativity. The creativity is there it is the process of lifetime learning and mastering those tools that makes us more effective in translating our artistic message.

        Thank you for your wonderful perspective!

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      • Oh you have touched so many fine points here. First and foremost—who wears clothes not designed by an artist, who drives a car not designed by talent, who watches a movie not made by a performer, who listens to music not written by a musician. All that we have and desire of any worth or merit is from the hands of talented artists. Everything in our world is created by the act of art. Every tool, every instrument, every house, building, fastening device. In the fields where the fruit is grown are artists who have to pick fruit for lack of opportunity or exposure to resource, but in that field are artists as well. We need to separate that not every one can be a doctor, but many are able, or be a pilot of a jet, but many could be. So to size up what you are as an artist must come form a simple choice, you don’t have to include every one or everything. Selection is the basis of great performance. What makes great art is selection and elimination. Ignore the bias against or for artists, jump in and perform and do, everything else is a distraction. Writers are the ones who write, everyone else is a reader.
        Nice response and i will write more thank you for the visit and comment

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    • I think many of us struggle with trying to let out that artistic voice and let it sing freely. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and the inner-critic can be nasty beast. I have found that being around other like-minded artists can really be supportive. Keep going its worth it!

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  2. I love this post. Sometimes I feel like in imposter, calling myself an artist when I’ve no training whatsoever beyond a quick sketch or drawing a floorplan. But I do like to call myself an artist if only in private because it feels right to me.

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  3. Thank you for a thought provoking post. My response – yes, we are all creative in one way or another, but to be an artist is to eat, sleep and live the life of an artist. So if you are not waking up in the morning wondering what you are going to capture in colour in whatever medium today, then I’d say you are not an artist.

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    • Thank you so much for your response Diane. You do have me pondering this one. Everyone is making so many wonderful points here I may do a series on the points on each aspect of the many things brought up.

      I agree with you that there is a creative urge and tugging that goes on within the spirit of an artist and that is why many artists say I didn’t choose to be an artist it chose me. That urge can drive me crazy sometimes and make me very anxious if I can’t get into my studio. But there are also times that that urge ebbs and flows like the seasons of the year and I think that is very natural. So to say if you don’t feel that you aren’t an artist.. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think that that urge is awakened or grows differently in each person…but yes I agree it is there even if faintly.

      I wish I could remember where I just read something about one or a few of the old masters that stated there were sometimes big breaks of time in there creative work. And then there are the famous artists such as Grandma Moses who didn’t start painting until they where toward the end of their lives. It’s still there dormant but nonetheless still there.

      I think we are all creative creatures and so that original statement to me maybe moreso speaks of creativity. And I feel whatever our creative gifts are bent toward as we nurture those can make us an artist in that field. Whether an amateur or a master, I suppose is part up to us and our hard work and part up to our natural gifting.

      I see so many beginning artists and frankly even more seasoned ones questioning whether they really are an artist and it makes me sad because they are comparing. I think sometimes that urge goes into a rest period for a bit and it is then that we wonder if we are a fraud.

      We are all part of the creative community and we all have a different artistic voice and path. Some are more serious and professionally successful and some may be struggling to be heard. I would hate to put rules on when you are allowed to call yourself an artist and discourage anyone from not feeling part of an amazing creative community.

      Again, thank you for bringing an interesting aspect to the conversation!

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  4. Pingback: Just do your art and smile | Rebecca J. Stahr Sketchbook

  5. Pingback: Just do your art and smile | Rebecca Stahr

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