Do I Have to Be a Fulltime Artist to Be a Real Artist?

23 Jul 2012

Given what we've discussed in the last two articles, Am I an Artist? and Am I a Real Artist? Not to mention Part-Time Artists Are Artists, Too--you probably have a pretty good idea of what my answer to this one will be, but let's talk about it.

It takes a long time to make a mountain, and piling a few rocks on top of one another just doesn't cut it. In the same way, becoming an artist involves time, patience, and effort--but not necessarily making lots of money. Chief Joseph Mountain by Steve Henderson, oil on canvas, of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

It takes a long time to make a mountain, and piling a few rocks on top of one another just doesn't cut it. In the same way, becoming an artist involves time, patience, and effort--but not necessarily making lots of money. Chief Joseph Mountain by Steve Henderson, oil on canvas, of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

For some reason, people have the idea that if we do something part-time, or if we don't make a killing selling our oil painting work or charcoal drawings, then we're not really whatever it is that we're doing. By this definition, the volunteer firefighters in many rural communities who put their lives on the line protecting people and property aren't really firefighters.

Or substitute teachers--what would school systems do without these people?--aren't really teachers. Our nuclear physicist--who works part-time because of family obligations--isn't a real nuclear physicist.

A bit absurd, isn't it? But it's understandable, since an artist doesn't depend upon a degree, certification, title, or job description to be an artist. He or she can have those things, or not; and having them doesn't ensure that they are artists.

Artists make art. They don't talk about making art; they don't emote about making art; they don't wax eloquent about making art--people who do that, and stop there, are artistes not artists.

True artists spend a lot of time creating. My own Norwegian Artist paints; others sculpt, work with wood, brass, clay, and beyond the visual arts we have dancers, writers, actors...if I miss one please don't yell at me. But what they all have in common is that they create new things from whatever materials they have on hand, and they're pretty serious about doing it well.

The sign of being a real artist has less to do with how much money you make at it than it has with how much time and effort you spend getting better at it. At least that is where I stand. What about you? Leave a comment and let me know.

--Carolyn

 


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Comments

on 24 Jul 2012 8:54 AM

Being an artist isn't a 9 to 5 job, it's a way of life, thinking, and seeing the world. We're artists even when we're doing something else!

skitagawa wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 8:16 AM

The answer to that would explain why after people see my paintings often say, "wow, you really are an artist". I always wonder what they originally thought when I said I was an artist. For me an artist is anyone who devotes a majority of their life to creative expression.

Hedy3 wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 8:34 AM

Thank you for the enlighting article......it is so difficult to explain (which I usually don't)

About being an artist.     Just because the artwork fills every space In my humble abode.   I live and breath art but do not do it as  a job,   Art just is a full time part of  who  I am.    Never explain and never complain!    Think ART!

cramble wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 4:24 PM

In my opinion, it's impossible to put a label on a state of being which is abstract.  In layman's terms, I'm a starving artist, but in my own mind (which is where is matters most) I'm constantly looking for ways to expand my horizons.  I think as soon as it became an urge of mine to rearrange rooms in my house to make them more compositionally complete I was willing to accept whatever label people need to identify my passions.

-cramble-

plindley123 wrote
on 30 Jul 2012 6:54 AM

My definition of an artist is an individual who cannot NOT make art. In other words, they are compelled internally to create. Whether or not they get external validation (praise, recognition, sales) is largely secondary. The extent of commitment may vary, as well as the time devoted to learning, experimenting and seeking to improve (in whatever dimension improvement is aspired to). Perhaps there are serious artists and there are casual artists, but I would never use the word 'talent' as a discriminator. What people see as 'talent' is more often the result of passion and hard , hard work.

Tor Husby wrote
on 31 Jul 2012 2:13 PM

As Norwegian I do experience it is the education which very much decides wheter you are regarded as an artist or not.

Either you have to have an a master from the Accademy or you have to have earned enough points from having exibited your work at reccognised exhibitions that have a jury. the most important is the Autom Exhibition in Oslo, but there are others also.

I have an education from a private art school and have experienced that galleries have been interested when they have seen my work, but withdrawn when they learn to know that I do not have background from the Accademy or have earned enough exhibition points. So far I have mannaged to have a few exhibitions at somewhat reccognised galleries, but I do not yet dear to call myself an artist even though I do work with teaching people in drawing and paionting.

Tor

Tor Husby wrote
on 31 Jul 2012 2:14 PM

As Norwegian I do experience it is the education which very much decides wheter you are regarded as an artist or not.

Either you have to have an a master from the Accademy or you have to have earned enough points from having exibited your work at reccognised exhibitions that have a jury. the most important is the Autom Exhibition in Oslo, but there are others also.

I have an education from a private art school and have experienced that galleries have been interested when they have seen my work, but withdrawn when they learn to know that I do not have background from the Accademy or have earned enough exhibition points. So far I have mannaged to have a few exhibitions at somewhat reccognised galleries, but I do not yet dear to call myself an artist even though I do work with teaching people in drawing and paionting.

Tor

Lind-ahh wrote
on 24 Apr 2014 8:48 AM

Artist is as much a part of me as my gender.  Although I spent years working in vario's other fields of employment in order to earn a liveable paycheck, I never doubted that I was an artist. It is a passion within my soul and I thank God constantly for this blessing.

Lind-ahh wrote
on 24 Apr 2014 8:48 AM

Artist is as much a part of me as my gender.  Although I spent years working in vario's other fields of employment in order to earn a liveable paycheck, I never doubted that I was an artist. It is a passion within my soul and I thank God constantly for this blessing.

on 24 Apr 2014 12:08 PM

It always amazes me when I hear a "you are not a real artist" judgment from someone.  Funny enough where I have seen this most in an artist-on-artist situation. Most non-artists, I think, rarely if ever exhibit this type of prejudice.

I have even seen other art-related prejudice too - like a photographer who paints is not a real painter and the opposite, a painter who takes up photography is not a real photographer.  If you work abstract, realistic, digital, film, fabric, collage there is always the chance you will encounter someone to challenge your validity.

I have seen a fair share of academia prejudice too --- very sad especially to see this from folks who teach for a living...as if that is the only legitimate side-career to have to support yourself.  If you are a banker, a lawyer, an administrator that takes precedent over being an artist.  You could be declared merely a dilettante if you chose to be financially independent and work a non-art-related job.  

Best to stay away from toxic individuals and situations - or just ignore those who think like this. Nothing good can be gained from the dialogue and it will just piss you off.

Bonnie g23 wrote
on 25 Apr 2014 3:30 AM

Rubbish,people that arnt artists always make out they know what they are talking about,but it's lies