I Am An Artist.

Jun 17

It's A Flourish!

imageI am an Artist.

By ‘Artist’, I don’t mean that I paint or draw well enough to win a fancy ribbon (although I have) or earn a buck or two (although I do).

I don’t mean that I am a master craftsman or even a participant in any of the other creative arts, like writing or dance or music or film (because I’m not).

I don’t mean that I have a degree in any sort of artsy field, or a long and respected list of gallery showings, high profile reviews, high dollar sales (because I don’t)

I also don’t mean that I have high-falutin’, fancy-pants pretensions about the worth of my art compared to the worth other people’s artalthough sometimes I do sniff down my nose a bit disdainfully. Hey, I’m workin’ on it. Meanwhile, blame the sniffling on my allergies.

Then there is the ever-so-useful definition proposed by Princeton.edu:

“a creative person, someone whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination“

That definition? It applies to almost everyone who has ever commented on this blog. And that is pretty awesome. You all rock.

But that’s not what I mean by “I am an Artist”, either – at least not today. On any given other day, in any given other conversation, I may use the word “artist” to describe all or any of the things above.

Today, I’m claiming the word in a different sense.

In a recent post, I said this:

“…  I mean writing (words) so they have the desired impact & effect, drawing the reader into my mind where they can experience what I want them to experience, then spitting the reader back out into their own worlds, changed by the experience, where they can digest and make the ideas their own. Or not.

THAT is what I mean by “I am an Artist”.  Yes, that paragraph is sloppy writing about writing, but you get the point, don’t you?

Art is about crafting an experience
through expression.

It’s about reaching out and grabbing someone by the back of the head, directing their gaze, causing them to react, to feel something-anything – something-anything that peels away the me-you-them-rat-race-to-do-list-too-bored-to-notice-anything-and-that’s-nothing-new obliviousness of day-to-day life.

Art strips away the filters, and re-exposes reality.

imageThat’s what the Masters did, and it’s what they still do, from their graves.

Ever seen one of Leonardo’s, Monet’s, or Van Gogh’s works in person?  It has to be in person.  In photos and prints, they’re pretty pictures, but seen as they were created to be seen? There is magic in the marks of charcoal and swishes of paint.  The lines and colors dance, glow, and reveal. Stand in front of the works of Masters of the Arts, soak in them, and you will see reality differently.

The same is true of great art in music, film, dance, sculpture.

It’s true of street performance and graffiti artists and photographers.

It’s true of great literature, essayists, poets – writers of all sorts.

Art is not about the picture. It’s not about the box office haul or the platinum record or the author’s advance or the tip jar or being avant-garde or weirder-and-more-pretentious-than-thou.

Art is about reaching out and touching someone else’s soul and changing it.

Real art changes things.

Real art can change things even when the artist has been  dead for centuries.

I want to be that. I want to not just produce, but be an expression that resonates with and within others, vibrating their perceptions so that the world comes alive in a new and different way, with newborn perceptions.

Art is my raison d’etre (see, there’s one of those high-falutin’ words I warned you about).

But I forget that, because, well, honestly? It makes life hard.

It’s why I struggle with production issues and ship-dates and deadlines. It’s why it can take me a year to get a website launched. It’s why I may struggle with the exact, pin-point placement of an image in a blog post, and yet ignore ten typo’s – because I sense that the image placement will change the experience, while the typo? Not so much. (I’m probably wrong about that, but it’s my vision, so hush with your criticisms!)

In my best moments, of which there are too few, everything I do, down to the way I breathe, is carefully crafted for effect. In my best paintings, every drip, smear, and mistake combines to create an experience for the viewer.  In my best writing (typo’s aside) every word and punctuation mark and line break is carefully chosen for its impact.

From where I sit today,
this all sounds horribly pretentious.

And it probably is…  especially since I haven’t spent much time living or creating this way for a very long time.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever quite had the courage to do it as fully as I feel drawn towards, but I want to try.

I’m going to try.

I may fail.

In fact, I will almost certainly fail…

But I will fail as an Artist.

I’d done a really cool hard copy illustration of an artist painting a butterfly, based on antique illustrations, but I lost it while cleaning my office, so you’re stuck with this stick figure.  Oh well, you still get the point, right?

Comment Guidelines: This post isn’t me reaching out for encouragement or support or permission. It’s just me putting words out there like just so much graffiti, destined to be scrubbed away, painted over and forgotten.

And that’s the way I like it.

Know what else I’d like? For you to paint in the comments with your definition of artist, or your thoughts on whether or not you are one, or maybe whether or not I am one. And yes, you have the right to decide ALL of those things.

And if you REALLY want to make me happy? Leave a comment explaining how YOU are an artist, writer, photographer, dancer, leader, teacher, whatever.  Do that, and I’ll give you stars!

It's Another Flourish!


  1. I’ve always believed that an Artist is one who creates (in whatever medium) with a specific, higher intention. Not higher as in lofty or pretentious, but with an aim beyond just painting a picture/taking a photograph/moving to the music. There is thought behind Art–often questions more than statements–it’s about communication, not merely aesthetics.

    Sometimes I create Art, sometimes I just make pretty, funky, or fun things because they’re there and want to be made. But I do consider myself always an Artist. Partly because I know what I mean when I say that, and partly because it’s how I function, with a thought towards what will become as a result of my endeavors.

  2. My hubby and I have had many conversations about the reaction needed for something to be art. We’re right there with you. When something is ugly/scary/disgusting, it still can be art and the person who created it is an Artist.

    I am an Artist. I have trouble sticking to one medium. I may flit around, but I always create art.

  3. shara /

    I am an artist in the way I want to create something special for others who would appreciate it, even if just a little. A story, a drawing, a little piece of love in each – entwined together.

  4. I am an artist. I have never had a problem calling myself that. I HAVE to be in the middle of making something all time, whether it is painting, writing, knitting or soap. My hands itch with the need to create. It undulates under the surface of my skin and seeps out of my pores. Art is emotions/thoughts expressed in a way that causes emotions/thoughts.

  5. I can’t paint, or draw or sing or dance. I’ve never tried to act and have never been good enough at any sport to be considered an artist like Pele or Johan Cruyff.

    Despite that, I am an artist. I use patterns to create computer programs, some of which are beautiful, elegant even. Some I am paid to write and some I write for me, but give them to others to make use of. People use my art in their own projects and sometimes they say thank you to me.

    I doubt I’ll ever meet them, and I may never even see what they have made using my work. My art is for others to use and change as they see fit for their own expression.

  6. I’m pretty comfortable calling myself a writer, but an artist…I always thought you had to be good at drawing.
    I’m finishing up my first art course at coursera.org. The good part: I’ve really expanded my definition of art and tried different things, like making a collage out of newsprint and doing an environmental installation, in addition to drawing and painting.
    The bad part: the grading and comments are pretty arbitrary–hard shake ’em off and continue to have fun.
    Still, I feel a lot better about calling myself an artist, and encourage everyone to do it!

    • Tori Deaux /

      (Belated) Stars for Melissa’s Expanded Creative Horizon!

      Stars! For Melissa!

      (sorry about the delay, M. I thought I approved & replied to this last week!)

  7. Ok I’ll play. I’m a writer. It took me a long time to embrace that title since normally I’m working with numbers 🙂 Even once I published a book it was hard. Then one day a good friend, colleague and published author said to me, “Nicole you’re an author. Get over it.”

    PS Love Boris Bold’s comment!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Stars for Nicole getting over herself!
      Stars! For Nicole!