As children we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up and without hesitation, we toss out anything and everything from fireman to astronaut, doctor to magician, famous singer to veterinarian and more! Our imaginations are limitless, and we are unrestrained from qualifications. As we grow up, we assess in greater detail what each role would mean for us and we have our parents, society and teachers also weighing in on what direction we should take. We learn to identify with our career instead of our passions (when the two don’t fully align). You may work as an accountant, but the work of your heart is in singing. You spend all day as a surgeon, but paint every chance you get! When someone asks us as adults, “What are you?” or, “What do you do?”, we answer with our career even if that tiny voice inside of us pipes up and wants to say, “I’m an artist!”
I hear from students that they struggle identifying as an artist due to their subconscious ideas of what makes you a “real” artist! Many struggle with feeling like they don’t qualify for the title or can feel like a fraud when they are in situations that present them as artists. Imposter syndrome is an internal experience where people feel unqualified or like they are acting as something they don’t have the right to be. These feelings can stem from perfectionism and comparing ourselves relentlessly to others. Our creative selves are sensitive which allows us to interpret the world we see, emotions, music and translate that into physical works of art. That same sensitivity also means we are susceptible to criticism and learn to disassociate from anything (such as an official title) that expose that sensitive side to judgement. Despite the kind words, accolades, or successes we may experience we still have that nagging feeling that we don’t belong in the same circle as “real artists”.
What is a real artist? Take a moment and think about your own definition. Does it require a formal art education and degree? Is it someone who sells their art for profit? Do they have to show in galleries and exhibits? What about self-taught artists who are extremely successful? What about artists in galleries that you don’t like? Do they have to do art as their sole source of income? Dig deeper into where these ideas stemmed from – was it in school, from your parents or from friends? Our realities are heavily shaped by our beliefs which in turn, are shaped by our experiences. As adults we carry around definitions that we sometimes picked up as kids – definitions that shape our day-to-day live but in fact, may have no basis. What is an artist objectively?
art·ist | \ ˈär-tist \
Definition of artist
A person who creates art (such as painting, sculpture, music, or writing) using conscious skill and creative imagination
Wow. What were your first thoughts on reading that definition? Did you notice it said nothing about your education, your skillset, your medium, sales, success, quality, or career? You have two requirements only by Merriam-Webster’s definition: conscious skill and creative imagination. Conscious skill means you are intentionally applying a medium to a substrate. That’s it – you are exercising a conscious effort to express something. Creative imagination (not flawless execution, mind you) is the process of taking something in one format (a photo, a live model, another work of art) and translating that to your own work. Creative imagination happens without effort even if you are copying a masters work or taking a course with a unique style that you are trying on. The way you hold the brush, the feelings you bring to the work, the day you had prior to creating – all of that is the sum of your creative energy.
Let’s try the concept on – say it in your head or in a quiet room, “I am an artist”. Maybe it starts as a whisper or maybe you laugh! Look in the mirror and try it again, how does it feel? Do you feel that silliness of being a fraud or a phony? Can you remedy that now with the actual definition and sit with those feelings? Can you accept your creative self a little bit more? If you’re feeling bolder, try adding the word artist into your social media bio, “Mom of four, dog lover, artist, and yogi!” Play with introducing yourself as your career and artist (and yes, mom of four is a career!) While our creative selves are sensitive, they also embody pure freedom of expression and to allow ourselves to fully accept, recognize and even celebrate our artist role not only serves to empower us, but each other as well. Imagine you have the courage to introduce yourself as an artist, and someone else steps up and says, “I am too!” It is in the acceptance of the artist role that we allow ourselves to be free of judgement, shame, doubt, and fear. In that freedom is precisely where creativity thrives!
We have an ARTIST CHALLENGE happening on FB and on IG. We would love to have you join us! To join the challenge, you just need to take a picture similar to the one at the top of this post and share it in our Facebook Community, or on IG and tag @karabullockart and include the hashtag #iamanartistchallenge2022. This is our year to say we are artists, and own it!
I leave you with this beautiful snippet from Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson below and hope you spend some time this week considering the role that being an artist plays in your life.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
Do you have other ideas to share with out community! We want to hear them! Please comment below!