Can I call myself an artist?
It's been a year and a half since I graduated with a BFA from art school. I now have a certificate that entitles me to call myself an artist. Yet I had never felt less of an artist than at that point. I graduated and I got a good job that paid my rent and my bills. I had a "creative job" but the work I did could not have been more monotonous and impersonal. I stopped creating. And after a year of barely getting anything artistic done, I still introduced myself as an artist, but it was starting to feel more and more like a lie. It led me to wonder what does it mean to be an artist? And does that question even has an answer?
As many other art graduates do when they are released into the real world, where art is undervalued and the competition fierce, I've been struggling with creativity. How do I get back the primitive drive I had to create before making art became an assignment with a deadline? How can I gain control of my art process so that I can be consistent and keep moving forward? How can I convince others to buy what I do in order to survive doing what I love? I constantly beat myself up. I wasn't inspired, I struggled to motivate myself to create and I often felt like a fraud. I still do.
But I stumbled upon this cheesy quote the other day and it might seem silly, but I felt somewhat comforted. There is literally nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so don't expect yourself to do so. I'm trying to accept the fact that we can't always be expected to produce amazing work and that it's okay to take a break to focus on other aspects of life. None of this makes me or you any less of an artist. I'm an artist as long as I believe I am, until the moment I decide to quit on creativity.
Yes, when you call yourself an artist, you should put in time and effort, and the more work you produce, the bigger the chances to improve and succeed. But there are no obligations and each individual should create at their own pace. Don't compare yourself to others. Don't expect to succeed at the same speed. Art is subjective and irrational. Not everybody should abide to a strict schedule, or produce the same quantity. Nowadays, there are no more rules in art, that's part of the fun. Anything and everything can be art if you want it enough, though not all art will be successful or well received. I believe art is sharing experiences, starting a conversation and connecting with your inner self and/or an audience. Creativity can take on many shapes and scents and sneak up on you in the least expected way. I think being an artist simply means to be aware, proud and passionate about one's own creativity, enough to produce work that is meaningful to you. Within this spectrum, we can find a very wide range of refinement, appeal and success. I think everyone could become an artist if they were encouraged, and maybe the world would be a little brighter if we all were. When you call yourself an artist it simply means that you have found your creative voice, that you have a story to tell and a passion that your body can't hold. It means to keep showing up, no matter how many times you pause.