A friend posted, “you don’t have to be an artist to create art.”

20130423-235250.jpgYes, I suppose if you created art that would qualify you as an artist. But only an artist can create art. Most people simply aren’t willing to risk looking foolish in the attempt and will never rise to the level of artist.

It is simply impossible to create art unless you are first willing to create something that is not art. That would be like saying you are going to play the violin without ever picking it up and dragging the bow across a string and making that horrible sound a beginner makes. And then, if you actually did muster the courage to do so, would that make you a musician? Not so fast, young Skywalker.

And yet, any serious endeavor must have a beginning, as inauspicious as it may be. So then at what point can one call themselves a musician, an artist or a Jedi?

There is something humble about the fact that Doctors and Lawyers practice their professions. Perhaps artists and musicians should take a page from these other professions. “I have an art practice. Therefore I am an artist”

To be an artist is to be engaged in a process. It is a practice every bit as serious and grueling as any doctor or Lawyer. The serious artists and musicians have put as much or more time and energy into their practice as any Doctor, I assure you.

So is anyone who makes art an artist? Is anyone who practices medicine a doctor? If he has an MD or some such credential to practice medicine then the answer is yes. Are they a good Doctor? That’s another question.

So many are under the mistaken impression that there is no objective way to certify whether an artist is a master. Art is in the eye of the beholder. But is this really true?

An MD is a tangible symbol that the holder has achieved mastery. Even though some doctors are clearly better than others, if he has that MD he may legally practice medicine.

What does a degree in art symbolize? There is no legal standard for an artist, no matter how many degrees they may obtain. That’s why the field is replete with pretenders. But Kurt Vonnegut once said, “we are what we pretend to be.” That statement always stuck with me.

Viewing the art business as a confidence game has always fascinated me. But is it? I prefer to believe it is a lifelong pursuit of the ideal. It is a devotion to the practice of truth. If you can fake that you’ve got it made.

The key to success in any endeavor is rigorous practice. An artist must be willing to make a commitment to study, assimilate, repeat and repeat whatever technique or structure that needs to be mastered in order to bring his/her vision into being. With true mastery comes true freedom.  And with freedom comes truth.  So which came first, the art or the artist, the chicken or the egg?”  Thank God we will never know for sure.


If you like/don’t like or want to add your thoughts to the conversation, I encourage you to comment.  Also, you may want to get a copy of Point of Art – Second Edition, or download it today.   I offer career coaching for those serious about a career in art. Don’t forget to check out  The Portrait – a painting video  and The Power of Positive Painting, the original portrait painting video.

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