What makes an artist an artist?

Is “what makes an artist an artist” a fair question? How is an artist defined, and who exactly is an artist?

Claude Monet

An artist is someone who makes art! But then, how do you define art? Do you need a particular set of skills, or formal training to make art, or is it just something you can just call yourself? What if someone else calls you an one? Does that make it so?

Is a designer an artist? At times, but who knows where to draw the line? I do know that there are artists, in many different disciplines. Jewelery is one of them, but then so is fine art, writing, photography, furniture making, graphic design, metalwork, pottery, landscape design, and all sorts of other areas.

makes an artist
Rene Lalique
makes an artist
Rene Lalique

Who makes you make art? Call me crazy, but I believe that it’s your muse! My personal definition of a muse, is that place inside of you that is the source of your creative inspiration. Yes, there are other definitions, but mine is the one that I use!

What is the difference between art and craft? Well, that’s certainly an age old, and very contentious question! I don’t think that there is an answer, as the definition is unclear, if not positively fuzzy!!!

But I believe that an artist, or designer, is someone who is technically skilled, yet has the ability to take an original idea, and make it their own. Copying the work of others, does not necessarily make you an artist, but rather a skilled technician. But then again, doesn’t everyone copy, when they start to learn their trade? Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so, because how else are we expected to learn?

Sherry Serafini
makes an artist
Sherry Serafini
makes an artist
Heidi Kummli
Heidi Kummli

Natural talent certainly helps, but so does a whole whack of hard work!! Well, I think I can, I think I can….

Mary Hettsmanperger
makes an artist
Mary Hettsmanperger

They may be inspired by others, but the images (or jewelery) they make will be completely their own, while looking completely different from the original. Not everyone wants to be one, but there’s nothing wrong with that either!

Life is about learning (for example, classes at BeadFX), but without learning you will never gain the skills to make yourself into one! Some make a lot of money out of it, many use it as a pleasant diversion, but others just drift along. Is money the only way to define an artist? I don’t think so!! If you make lots of money, by making just one thing, does that make you an artist? Not in my eyes, but perhaps in yours! No one can define an artist, but the artist!

But here’s what the Collins Dictionary has to say!

“Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us may useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.” – Tom Stoppard.

Now that’s funny, because there are a lot of modern artists out there!!!

By the way, I borrowed the above quote from an interesting article from goins.net? But does that make me a technician in the writing world, or just someone who likes to research what others think?

But then again, “what makes an artist an artist”? Imagination + creativity + originality + a few materials + tools + practice + drive = an artist!

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” – Twyla Tharp

5 Comments

  1. Monika Aebischer

    The work saying something rather than being decorative, utilitarian. There is not shame in being an amazing craftsperson, or a true amateur (with it’s meaning of doing something for the love of it). Not everyone is an artist, yet we all have a creative energy. Being driven by that energy to create and imparting meaning into the work is how I define an artist. Somebody might be able to write, has pen and paper, but is not a writer.

      1. Anne Marie

        Yes, everyone needs to start somewhere, and crafting is often the way many artists start on their journey. Passion, drive, and experience make a huge difference along the way!

  2. Julie Mackinder

    A really interesting and entertaining post Amri. Not sure that I agree with Tom Stoppard as far as imagination without skill goes but that could be a whole other post.

    1. Anne Marie

      Thanks Julie! Not sure that I agree either, but I think that there are a lot more artists out there, than the world recognizes. I think that everyone has the potential, but that there are degrees of artistry.

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