I would like to offer a topic for discussion (thanks, Belinda for the idea!): When were you able to call yourself and artist and feel like it was true? Do you feel self-conscious referring to yourself that way? I would like to hear what you think.
I just started calling myself an artist about a year ago, even though I've been doing some form of fiber/textile/needle work/art for over 40 years! Art was never encourage (although, not discouraged either). Making my own clothes in high school was actually considered more a necessity than an art because money was tight. I do feel self-conscious, and usually wonder if I really have a right to the title. But then I realize that what I do, and the way I see things is unique, and therefore I am an artist.
Michele Ann L'HeureuxFiber ArtistLancaster, California
I didn't consider myself an artist until a few years ago. I went back to university in 2003 to get my art degree. I had never considered myself an artist because 'I couldn't draw'. So I took the drawing courses first thinking that if I didn't do well in those then I shouldn't be there. I had a fabulous drawing instructor whose first lesson was learning the difference between rendering and drawing, and she went on to teach drawing. Only after completing my art degree and answering 'Call to Artists' , entering art shows, and attending openings, etc. did I start to feel comfortable with the term 'artist'. After enough people introduce you as the artist it gets easier, but some days I still feel that the title isn't really mine yet.
I have trouble calling myself an artist and have only started to in the last few months. I sometimes feel like I do not have the right as I don't have a formal degree and I only make my art quilts in my spare time and have not tried to sell anything yet. I am hoping to soon. I also hope to someday feel comfortable calling myself an artist.
You are very welcome! I am always interested in the answer to this question. I did art for quite awhile before I considered myself an artist. I was a technique junkie who absorbed everything like a sponge and tried everything like a maniac. I still go back to the beginning of my blog and laugh at what I used to do. I cannot believe how my art has evolved. I remember the things I used to do. I still have a couple of favorite pieces from the beginning of my art journey.
I felt like a true artist the first time I sold a piece online. It wasn't a swap or a trade. It was an actual sale. It was for an altered book. The rational part of me told myself that I should not need that external validation. Still,my heart still soared and I relished that "first". From that moment on, I thought of myself as a real artist. I would tell other artists otherwise if they were in my same shoes but it was a defining moment for me. There are some things that need a "moment" for me to be feel it and live it.
I can also tell you the moment I felt like a real teacher. On the same vein, I can tell you why I love to work with fabric, sew, work with metal, and take apart things. I think it comes from being a teacher. "Why" is a big part of my vocab. Have to be reflective even though I fight it most of the time. Am I going to start another conversation now? LOL!
Belinda aka crazyartgirl
It took me YEARS to have the nerve to call myself an artist. I was saying it to myself in my own head and heart for about a year before I actually said the words aloud to someone else. "I'm an artist," is one of the scariest things to say to someone because it comes with a whole host of expecations from the listener that you meet THEIR standards of what a "true artist" really is.
My Blog My Art
Jody, I have no formal art training either. I go to workshops, read books, and experiment like most of us. I am plain shameful when it comes to quilting. I don't know most of the quilting vocabulary and fudge or "jimmy" my quilts to have it work out the way I want. I couldn't traditional quilt my way out of a paper bag. I don't sell my stuff that much any more. I find it it too time consuming to list it on etsy and eBay. I have to measure and describe and take picts and pay fees and stuff. I don't have a lot of time for all that. I often end up giving it away or giving it a home on my art shelf. Out of choice, I don't exhibit in galleries. I tried it and don't like doing it. People gasp when I say that. I guess I am in the minority in that respect. I don't do a lot of things, yet I am still an artist. I feel that I am an artist because I feel and do the things that an artist does. I hope that makes sense. I feel the need to create. I have no problems saying I am an artist now when people ask me what I do. I tell them that I teach, too. One pays and one keeps me sane.
Belinda your thoughts are inspiring and encouraging. I jumped over to your blogspot too and just read and read and admired your work. Bookmarked it, of course. I like the idea that you don't have to be what some in other circles would call "properly trained" or be a "selling" artist to be a sucessful and true artist. The fact that you are an artist at heart can, and is, enough.
I started calling myself and artist about 9 years ago, as I think on it. I do have some formal 'art training' I went to the Fashion Institute for a two year degree in Textile/Surface Design. After school, I got a job as a Poster Restoration Artist. I felt a little set back because my art training was vocational and my fellow coworkers were trained as 'fine artists'. In school I did take some fine art classes as part of the curriculum, but I never got the gist of blending colors, painting from an intuitive center, or how to approach a task from any other way than the clients perspective-because that is the way of textile design.
I wouldn't want folks to think that having art training is an end or the only means! It has its place but is not necessary. Our society puts emphasis on schooling to prop up status, while in many ways, takes this status away from artists as soon as we graduate. As though being an artist is a self centered pursuit and not the needed social commentary, the mental soothing, and reprieve from daily life that art provides to community members and the world at large. So I think we should walk lightly within ourselves when approaching this title. Be gentle as we embrace this title and make it our own.
I am an artist, I know I am. When people ask me what I do, I say, I am an artist as I look into their eyes. I feel centered in it. I explore topics of the human form, nature and our place within these two realms. I express myself in cloth, I paint and know how to draw, but this is not the only manner of being an artist, just one of many.
Author: Inspired to QuiltMelanie Testa<--my artGo play in your studio!!!
This is a great disscussion , one that should take a whole issue of QA ,While looking at my quilts a unknown man recently said ,' Oh your the Artist' , to me. I replyed 'well Im the quilter' and he said ' no your the artist ' and walked away :) Quilting is a art but all quilts aren't art , I think they become art when you strive to make them special or differant , your own.They may come out good art or bad art but they become Art. If I'm forced to say I reply I'm a contemporary hand quilter because I'm in the middle of the issue,
MellyMells, great comment! I, myself, cannot draw well and never will. Have tried and am not motivated to. Other artists have tried to steer me otherwise. I guess I am just not drawn in that direction. That does not stop me from calling myself an artist just because a large part of society identifies art with drawing. I see myself as an artist and that is what's important. I see myself as artist, teacher, mother, and wife. It is usually in that order even though my day (paying) job is being a 6th grade teacher. I really do think it is how we see ourselves. For example, I make and assemble all sorts of charms and art jewelry all the time. It keeps me sane when I am watching TV with my kids. I can only watch so many kiddie programs over and over again. It is hard to do drag some art supplies down with me. Jewelry stuff is easy because it is small and not messy. People have asked me why I don't sell it or submit to magazines. I just shrug and say because I like to do it. I don't see it that way. It is something to do. I don't need ONE MORE THING to do. That's a whole different topic to discuss. It has become much easier for me as I grow older to be comfortable with myself.
At first, I did feel inadequate because I did not have any formal art training. I later discovered that there were not a lot of schools that formally taught what I wanted to learn in the US. There are such things in the UK. Thank goodness for workshops and DVDs. There are some very specific graduate programs offered in my area related to paper arts but they are very expensive. I cannot justify the time and cost right now. It might be something I will look into later on when I am about to retire. Who knows, I might be teaching such a course by that time!
Thanks everybody for your thoughts on this. It is fantastic to find out that others call themselves an artist even if they don't have formal training or do it full-time I guess I should think of myself as an artist as I love to create and try to carve out time every week to do my art. Ever since I was little I have been creating. It started out with making Christmas ornaments for all my friend and family every year (something I still do), crocheting and mixed-media. I cannot draw to save my life but would love to learn. If I need an idea translated onto paper I usually ask my husband who is a very good at drawing.
Belinda, your words really made me think. I too have thought about submitting my quilts for ale but it just seems like so much work! I too have young kids (age 5 and 3) and find that I watch a lot of cartoons (I tend to make yoyos for the kids to create things out of them while I do this). In addition to raising the kids, I too also work nearly full-time for a major financial institution (my paying job). I also spend a lot of time in the garden in the summer growing vegetables to feed the family. There is nothing better than fresh garden fruits and vegetables!!
I look forward to more views on this subject.
Jody - Artist
This is a really interesting topic. Interesting how so many of us have considered drawing to be a prerequisite to being an artist. Even after having taken drawing classes I'd still say "I can't draw" but have come to realize as has been said here, that drawing is only one area of art. I was at a gallery opening last night and my favorite pieces were by a conceptual artist who had not drawn or painted anything but instead had assembled found objects. His pieces were brilliant and someone commented that he was the 'best artist' there. I would love to develop some good drawing/rendering skills but have come to believe that those skills are a bonus, not a prerequisite. Still, I accept the term 'artist' but many days am not totally comfortable with the title.
HMMMM!! I started out 15 years ago doing bears and realistic animals and it took about 6-7 years of trading and competing to actually call myself an artist . It wasnt until i won awards amongst or against people I admired in the industry that i gave myself a break and refered to myself as an artist -But I never used the term bear artist but soft sculpture artist as my creations were always evolving and I used alot of newly created techniques to create works of art not merely bears. I focused on what I called puesdo reality. Anyway after going so far and wanting to create more 'art' pieces i moved into surface design and wow how things have changed in where my pieces have gone.
But i feel now that I can call myself an artist but still have that unsurity about my legitamicy amongst the wonderful artists out there. Its just my own insecurities rising to the surface-years of being told Id amount to nothing --but we all have our own baggage. this time round Im happy to bathe in the glory of so many talented people in so many fields and if they like my work then i can now graciuosly accept their comments.
Did I answer your question.