There’s a jar sitting on my desk with dull pencils and writing pens branching different directions like flower stems. I grab one when I want to write, sometimes in the early morning before a long day in the office or late at night when everyone is sleeping. This simple glass holds my growing boldness, proclaiming, “I am a writer.” For many this statement is arrogant because if anyone claims to be an artist in any way, they must hold court in concert halls across the globe, have their work housed in world-famous museums, or make the New York Times bestseller list.
I don’t retract or make apologies though— I am a writer— because of that, I am also an artist. Perhaps you are, too. If you want to declare yourself as one but feel uncertain, then here are three reasons why you should (even if you’ve never sold a painting).
WHAT WE CREATE IS VALUABLE
What we create with our hands is valuable, a reflection of something greater than what was actually created. We are striving to share something about the world, our beliefs or ourselves through tangible works, whether or not there is room for improvement. We are communicating and communication alone is valuable— this is how we relate to one another and bridge differences.
Maybe your art is in a freshly baked cake or thoughtful dinner embodying your love and care for friends and family. Perhaps it’s a candle, painting, short story or wall hanging. Regardless, the act of creating stirs an undeniable, soul-satisfying need, and that alone justifies worth.
CREATIVITY ISN’T LIMITED TO A PAYCHECK
When a friend introduced herself as an “an artist,” I was initially surprised because she had never sold her work or even tried though her house is decorated with intricate sketches and beautiful prints. I had unintentionally dismissed her art as a hobby, as well as several other friends’ work because they haven’t chosen the all-or-nothing path. One is a publicist who does stunning chalk art in a nearby park while another works in commercial fashion, but designed and sewed her own wedding dress after-hours. The cultural gatekeepers label neither of these women as artists, but each is one.
Regardless, the act of creating stirs an undeniable, soul-satisfying need, and that alone justifies worth.
Perhaps we’ve thought of an artist as an earned label, as if “artist” is an all-encompassing word that not only defines a person, but requires monetary value. There are artists who make a living by their work but are also called moms, volunteers or students. Does their art solely define them? It doesn’t, and neither are other artists defined by a paycheck. Society has attached these and many other qualifiers we’ve believed from teachers, parents and professionals in that field— even friends.
Why are we so critical of others and why do we willingly accept those stipulations? Maybe if we were less harsh on ourselves and vulnerable with others we’d be less critical of others’ work, too.
ARTISTS DEFY STEREOTYPES
Perhaps you’ve never considered yourself a rebel or thought leader, but you are by the very nature of being you. Each one of us is original and what we create with our hands is unlike what anyone else could create when you combine our unique interpretation, innovation, and skill set. You defy any stereotype or label.
Be willing to declare yourself an artist and be vulnerable to the implications. That takes courage. With boldness, though, the doors are open to the possibility and beauty of what you create. You can continue your day job and still call yourself a writer, painter—or artist of any kind— knowing that though you’re are more than that, it’s still a part of who you are. And you, in and of yourself, are art.
What kind of artist are you?
Images via Monica Outcalt