Am I an artist?
That’s a good question and one I never thought I’d ask myself; mainly because the answer would always have been “no, of course not”.
What about you? Are you an artist?
You might be. I have no idea because I don’t know you.
But in exploring whether I’m an artist, I can help you figure out whether you are or not.
What is an artist?
Let’s talk agent nouns.
-or -er -ist
What makes a person able to use one to describe themselves?
I’d say it’s as simple as putting the verb into action. If I’m driving you home from the pub, I’m the driver.
However, just because I was the driver at a given point doesn’t mean I’m a driver.
Even though I have a photography website that I take photographs for, I’d be hesitant to say I’m a photographer.
This may just be semantics but it doesn’t seem right to say it when it’s not my job, occupation, or profession.
I’m happy to say I’m a photography blogger, though.
That’s perhaps because it’s not really a common or traditional job, so there’s no precedent of needing to be a professional to call myself that.
Most photography bloggers do what they do as hobbyists.
Just as many artists do…
How to be an artist
If you don’t need to be a professional to be an artist, then the question of how to be an artist seems an easy one to answer.
Remember, we’re not talking about being a professional artist. You can be an amateur artist and still make art.
Hobbyist artists are artists too, man.
Remember too that “what makes an artist?” is a different question to “what makes a great artist?”
All we’re talking about here is being an artist.
About making art.
Become an artist
This is all great news if you want to become an artist yourself, because it’s all in your hands.
You don’t need to be world class.
All you need is to want to make art, and then to make it. What kind of art that is is none of my business.
I do photography. In your efforts to be an artist, you can do whatever you want.
Whether you’re good at it or not doesn’t matter in the beginning.
What’s more important is to start.
Then, in time, you can find your own art style.
How to find your own art style
The best way to find your own art style is to try as many different ones as you can.
There are plenty to go at.
For example, some major photography genres are landscape, portrait, street, architecture, sport, fashion, concert, wildlife, macro, travel, and products.
Under each of those you have style choices like colour, monochrome, vintage, HDR, abstract, minimalist, long or short exposure, and deep or shallow depth of field.
You don’t need to try them all, but you’re not going to know which style is yours unless you try at least a couple.
Whether you think you’re artistic or not is immaterial, too.
It’s actually dangerous to even ask yourself “am I artistic?” – purely because it’s possible you’ll say “no” and kill your chances before you even begin.
And you’ll never need to know how to find your art style if you never begin.
So am I an artist?
If I’m calling myself a photography blogger rather than a photographer, then am I an artist or not?
And why am I even asking the question?
Plenty of people do consider photography to be art, so perhaps I am.
People also consider a professional to be one who makes money from doing what they do.
However, selling a handful of images doesn’t make me a professional photographer, and selling stock photography certainly doesn’t make me a professional artist.
So, what makes an artist?
Publishing work under the banner of art definitely helps.
That happened to me when this photograph of a Volkswagen Beetle was accepted onto the online gallery and shop ArtSocket.
Unfortunately, in the years since this happened, ArtSocket has ceased selling prints, although the website is still online.
The creator, Dmitri Tcherbadji, now has a new project, Analog Cafe, which is centred around film photography.
If that’s your kind of art, you could submit some of your work there.
So back to that question – am I an artist? Do I consider myself to be one?
I’m going to say yes.
I am an artist.
It’s not my job, and The Beetle was only one photograph.
But if photography is art then I’m making art every time I go out with my camera.
Things like the #leesixtyfive project are my portfolio, and I’ve seen my style develop as that’s been building.
We’re not talking about being a professional artist here.
If you make art, any art at all, as a hobbyist or amateur artist, you are an artist.
Please don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not.