Are You An Artist?


I read two interesting blog posts lately about what makes a professional artist. Joanne Mattera┬áposted on her blog on Monday “Who Is A Professional Artist?” and it’s a very interesting read including the comments. And Kim Radatz on her blog, “Thinking Out Loud” has an interesting response post on the same subject.

Are you an artist if you work in your studio every day? Or are you only an artist if you are selling your work or gallery represented? Now nowhere have I said are you a ‘good’ artist. That’s not part of this question. The question is – are you still an artist if you are not selling?

For me I am an artist because it’s as necessary as eating or sleeping. It’s how I express myself in my world. And I believe folks throughout history who are of the same disposition have figured out ways to be ‘artists’ without earning an income with their art. Money is really not the motivator. It’s true we all need to eat and have a place to lay our heads, but I believe we work that out through grants, patrons, spouses and part-time jobs when necessary. It’s my opinion that artists want to sell or be in galleries as a form of acceptance for their body of work. When a piece sells it’s as if we get the applause that performance artists receive,┬ábut I also have come to learn that what other people think about my work has nothing to do with how I feel about myself as an artist.

What do you think? Are you an artist?

Above is my most recent acrylic painting and I continue to add completed sketchbook pages on a previous post.

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive (. . . ) Without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless creating.”

– Pearl Buck on the creative mind

About Judy Shreve

Blogging for me is like keeping a journal which I have done in various forms since I can remember. But what's great about this format is it offers an opportunity to explore all the things that interest me as an artist with others. Blogging seems to strengthen that sense of being part of both something personal and something universal. It takes the journaling idea and expands it through visitor's comments creating a valuable dialog that connects us to each other no matter where we live. I enjoy responding to each comment and warmly welcome your visits. email: judyshreve at mac dot com
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6 Responses to Are You An Artist?

  1. Rayna Diane says:

    I think that’s an excellent point about selling one’s artwork, that it is a desire to be accepted on a broad scale. It’s true I believe for artists – be it photographers, painters, woodcarvers, etc. – there is distinct pleasure, and often a need – to just create. Money is not the final factor though it’s certainly a bonus to be paid for something you’ve created! I believe this is true for designer’s as well – we truly love what we do and often do ‘freebies’ for friends or non-profits as a way to broaden our skills and just do what we love.

    I have only recently begun to really think of myself as an artist and am rather delighted to think of myself that way. It makes me smile to add that to my list of who I am. And I do think that is enough, to think of yourself as an artist.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Rayna! I agree there is a need to create for some folks. I know Bob is very talented and creative, but he’s not driven like I am. He can spend a weekend messing around and turn out some great work – but I don’t think he would do it daily even if he had a chance. I’m glad to hear you think of yourself as an artist. That’s how I think of you, but why do we feel like the term ‘artist’ needs to be bestowed like it’s some kind of honor. Working artists work hard and should have every right to call themselves artists!

  2. Charlene says:

    Good discussions.
    I am an artist as I live and breathe. I do not call myself a “professional artist.” Sounds like extra paperwork for me. It also leaves me open to unwanted inquiries about commission work. A review once said I was a studio artist. I really think it should read studious artist.
    If you say you are an artist—say you are with head held high and then get back to work in your studious.

    • Judy Shreve says:

      Hi Charlene – Yeah I don’t think being an artist is a choice and I agree things change when you use the word, ‘professional,’ but I love the word ‘studious’ though!

  3. lynne says:

    lol, i love charlene’s response!

    i also love this painting… : )


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