you are already an artist.

a beautiful thing is never perfect

Sometimes I wish I was an artist like my brother. He turns graphite & pixels & film into art without effort. He sees the world with an artist’s eyes and renders the world onto paper & into light.

I surround myself with beautiful things – great works of design, uncomplicated sketches, photographs of the natural world – and I wish that I could make these things. My art is made with words and thought. I’m okay with that. It’s just that sometimes my desires wander outside the bounds of my talent. Sometimes I don’t “feel” like an artist because my medium doesn’t involve color & texture.

Nonetheless, I am an artist.

If you are waiting until you “feel” like an artist to do remarkable things, you might be waiting forever. Right now, you possess the vision to become the artist you dream of being. Right now, you do things that are art.

Seth Godin is fond of saying that art does not require paint or brushes. Instead, art is the work of heart + mind that helps to change the world. Science, engineering, and logic are also art & craft, as is organization, management, and parenting. Your passion is your art.

Artists are people who make change, people who touch others, people who create work that matters. If you design a new interface, you’re an artist. If you create a story for a non-profit that spreads around the world and raises awareness and changes lives, you’re an artist. If you look a kid in the eye and teach her algebra in a way she understands, you’re an artist.

So why is it difficult to be an artist?

Because artists break things. Breaking the status quo, the established rules, the way things usually are.
– Seth Godin, good experience

Regardless of the manner in which you want to help others – express yourself – and change the world, you are already an artist.

Do you see the world as your canvas? As the statue set in a block of marble waiting to be set free?

You are already an artist.

It’s easy to look at people who create beautiful masterpieces with paint or clay and ignore our responsibility to share our own art with the world. It’s easy to put the happy burden of creating art on a talented few. It’s easy to pass the task of self-expression on to a narrow view of art.

But, what you do – what you want to do – your life’s passion – is already art. You have a unique perspective and something beautiful to offer to your fellow (wo)man. Waiting indefinitely to embrace that truth robs us of your vision.

Your yoga practice, your classroom, your user interface, or your non-profit organization – it’s all art.

The world is your gallery (you already know it’s your stage). Your friends are your patrons. Your opening party can be tonight.

You are already an artist.

{ a beautiful thing is never perfect by Lisa Barbero }

29 thoughts on “you are already an artist.

  1. I often struggle with this. Even though I make tangible, lovely things, I don’t think of myself as an artist. An artisan, maybe. A crafter, for sure.

    But I like Seth’s definition of an artist :) Thanks for yet another awesomely thought-provoking post, Tara.

  2. I have to remind myself of this all the time. I find myself thinking when my sales reach a certain point, or I’m published, or I paint a really large canvas, then…then I’ll feel like an accomplished artist. But you are right, I already am.

  3. I Guess I must be an artist..But I also design. The artists part comes from hand making neat and innovative from neck ties. That is the artists side. The designer side of me does the dreaming of what can be done with them.

    I think….lol

    Cool article

  4. Beautifully said/written and so true. I believe in this too. To have a passion is to become creative in some way or other, it makes you act because you have to do it! Thanks for saying it so eloquently Tara!

  5. While in art school, a mentor of mine took me to lunch. Over the course of a few hours, deciding what kind of food would be perfect for the day, what beers to pair with the foods, how to follow each dish up with the next, he explained his thoughts about how being an artist is more than just producing work. It is how you live. It was very refreshing to hear somebody say it. Being an artist for me effects nearly ever decision I make, everything that I chose to have around me, every experience I chose to have. That said, I still feel like I do not produce enough work.

  6. My closest circle found it easy to recognize me as an artist (b/c they knew me, what I was like and took the time to learn about what I was doing), even though I wasn’t ready to own up to the title to the public-at-large. I was so scared of that word b/c my work didn’t fit into a neat & tidy art category. When people hear you’re an artist, they suddenly expect you to be able to draw a spot-on portrait of anything, anytime. “Oh Jan can do it…she’s an artist!” And I’d have to say, “I’m not that kind of artist…” Having to qualify myself aloud was always a tiny chink in my confidence and my own belief in myself as an artist. Seeds of doubt that were very hard to overcome. I got to the point where I had to accept not everyone was going to ‘get’ what I did, and my work wasn’t about converting or convincing them – it was about finding buyers and peers who needed little explanation.

  7. It’s not about *how much* art you produce, but the quality of the work you produce. And when I say *quality* – I define that by the amount of passion you put into the work. I produce art (I prefer to call it art, not work) daily. Not all of it is tangible. It’s all about doing more of what you are good at. Painting, persuading, drawing, tweeting, coding – are all gifts. Forget just filling up a canvas. If your output is making a difference, then it is art.

  8. Words of wisdom! I think that people forget artists do not only draw and paint… there’s so much more out there! I definitely think we are all works of art and therefore, can create art ourselves.

  9. I graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and often struggled throughout my college experience with the label of “artist.” In my pre-portfolio classes, I was mixed in with painters, photographers, performers. I was the lowly design student, and it really wasn’t until I was accepted into the graphic design program and interacted with the other 20 students in our studio that I came to accept what I did as art. Art just as valid and just as time-consuming and just a part of myself as a painting or a photograph. I still create visual experiences with a unique process.

    I was an artist before art school, too, and it’s certainly taken years to come to terms with that.

    It’s articles like this one that encourage me to not let the daily grind get me down, to remember to keep the fire fed and lit brightly in my heart, to know that what I do is more than it sometimes may seem. :)

  10. Yes, everyone could be an artist when you could create something you made. You couldn’t make sure everyone loves your work, but don’t stop your creative proceedings when your work is still in growing up. Anyway, keep going to create our big picture. Thanks Tara! We are going to create our artist world.


  11. Another great post, it’s so true. I’m beginning to realise I have a very different view of myself to how other people see me. I potter along making and selling, not considering myself as an artist for a moment. Then, one of my blog readers left me a comment about having an insight into my ‘fab arty mind’ and I was amazed! I mentioned to a friend that someone had actually called me arty and she was incredulous that I was surprised and don’t view myself that way. Since then I have started to call myself a designer maker, in my head if not out loud at least…

  12. Beautifully written Tara. Yes, you are an artist. I think even those of us that are the kind of artists that use color and texture struggle with this. I know I did. Even with a degree in art to back me up I felt like I was not really an artist because I was not making a living from it, not prolific enough, etc. There is this notion that to be an artist requires some kind of genius or or ground breaking work. It does not. I love Seth’s definition too, but even the dictionary definition includes this.
    a : one who professes and practices an imaginative art
    b : one who is adept at something
    I like that too!

  13. *gulp* I’m going to go ahead and disagree, a LITTLE here….being an artist myself I feel it is really, really important to treasure that title. Yes, there are all kinds of artists, yes, you don’t have to have an education to be an artist, but please, let’s honor the job of being an artist as also being of value.
    If we are to label everyone who just feels creative or expresses themselves; as an artist, I feel like it does devalue it.
    I worked hard to go back to school a bit older than others, I grew up very poor and had to pay for every class, every book, and bust my butt working too. I work very hard now, making sure that what I make has meaning and will impress upon someone, something, make some connection. I take risks, I put myself out there.
    And I’m not afraid to disagree.
    I want everyone who uses that title, to truly OWN and value it before just throwing up the title, remember – being an artist IS a special thing. Let’s honor that!

  14. The pearl’s beauty is made as a result of insult just as art is made as a response to something in our environment that fires us up, sparks us, causes us to think differently. The pearl, like art, must be catalyzed.
    ~ Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper

    Since you, and your sites, are a catalysts, just think how much art you create! :-)

  15. This is an awesome post, Tara! I have been struggling with this very issue – finding the courage to call myself an artist even when others say they’ve long viewed me that way. My brother’s a “real” artist, too – makes you doubt your own contributions sometimes, but you’re so right that we all are artists adding to the canvas of our world. A couple months ago, I finally added the word “artist” to my business card. It was a bold, brave move for me and it felt great!

  16. This is very well said — I am so happy you “found me” on Twitter recently and in turn, I was able to “find” this post!

    Every one has been empowered by the internet — and that is a wonderful DIY thing — to a point. If you write a blog, you’re a writer. If you post photos you’re a curator. If you make dinner look pretty on the plate, you’re a stylist. If you own a digital camera, you’re a photographer.

    I realize this is off point a bit, but I worry about how all these people who are now “artists” will go on to make a career out of their art? Those of us who, (until the recent economic downturn) were paid well for our creative ideas are being undercut by people giving their art away for free (or for very little money.) Hobbyist “artists” are not taking their time into consideration when pricing -or- are giving a huge discount because “they’re just starting out and need the work for their portfolio.” I see people writing for free on blogs belonging to other people-it’s the same thing-hurting writers who used to be paid for such activities.

    My point: if you’re going to be one, own it and be paid fairly for it. Don’t just cover your cost of materials. It hurts the rest of us.

    That being said, I like Gwyn’s answer B. one who is adept at something <– if that is the case, we're all artists in some respect!
    ABC Dragoo

  17. I just got this from the Instructables FB stream, it fits here perfectly: ‎”He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.”
    -St.Francis of Assisi

    No better definition, especially if you ignore the gender issues in this. :)

  18. I had the hardest time ever getting to a place where I could call myself an artist without wondering, “Is that really true?” or making some sort of excuse, like “I’m an artist…but I’ve never taken any art classes…so I’m really only sort of an artist…and my work doesn’t really compare to so-and-so’s anyway…” etc etc. I’ve since gotten a lot better about it, but it’s still something I struggle with – as do lots of other people, I’m sure!

    Love this post though :) Thanks for the reminder!

  19. Creativity is not the exclusive domain of artists. If you can solve a problem, you are creative. It’s that simple. ‘Creator’ certainly would clear things up a lot & help more people have confidence in their abilities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *