What is an Artist?

FruitI remember when a good friend was learning art and was very reluctant to apply the name ‘artist’ to themselves. My guess is that they saw the name artist as a bit of a pretentious title. Personally, I think that it is a title without glamour in that there are good artists and not as good artists, just like any other profession. Movies and media have tried to glorify artists because, well, it makes better press if someone is extraordinary. Artists have fed that image by purposely portrayed themselve as freaks because it gets them press; Klimt and Picasso come to mind. (Not saying they weren’t great artists too.) On the other hand, there are some exemplary artists out there, and when you look around even locally, there is a lot of wonderful original art out there. So what does it mean to me personally to be an artist? I push paint around on a canvas. I do this quite energetically and with much thought. I do not wait for the muse – I work hard at my art. I study the great artists who have gone before me. I am excited when I see my work improving; but one thing about being an artist, most of us don’t ever ‘arrive’ and that’s all right. There is always something new to try, and most of all, the next painting is hoped to express previously gained knowledge and experience and therefore to be better than all that went before. Demanding? Yes. Frustrating? At times. Exilarating? Frequently. Rewarding? – this comes in two forms. The reward of people liking your art, and the monetary reward of someone liking your art enough to buy it. The starving artist category? We try not to go there. However, in conclusion, I think that Whistler had it right, “art is a crazy business”. But I can’t imagine doing anything else.