Why I don’t like calling myself an “artist.”

Let’s face it: as much as we all try to eschew labels, they’re a necessary evil.  We need qualifiers and ways to box ourselves in, but it’s really just a way to describe our particular specialties (“Yeah bro, I’m a professional athlete.  A freerunner. You’ve probably seen me on American Ninja Warrior.”).  But when people ask me what I do I’m always hesitant to use the word “artist” as a job title because the fact is, we’re all artists in our own right (tired cliche warning!).  Am I an illustrator?  Sometimes.  A designer?  I dabble.  A teacher?  Depends on the day of the week.  But an artist?  Always. Every single day.  All the time.  (I’m about to get all touchy feely and metaphysical so if that’s not your bag, best to head back to Facebook or TMZ.com right about now).

Art.
Art.

By calling myself an artist, I think there’s  de facto implication that you then, are not an artist.  “I’m an artist.  You’re not.  Know you role, chief.”  I think the creative community has absconded with the term “art” and attempted to horde it.  Like unless you went to RISD or SCAD and you understand pieces like this, then you’re, like, totally not an artist man.   I’m in no position to judge–if that’s how you like to express yourself that’s rad.  I don’t get it, but it’s cool with me.  Some art though, in my humble opinion, is an affront to the artistic process and is a cheap, smash and grab ploy to take advantage of the capitalistic side of art.  Paradoxically though, this very concept is what makes art so awesome–a piece that may have zero resonance with me might captivate you and bring a smile to your face for years and is therefore worth whatever you pay for it.  My definition of originality or creativity might differ vastly from yours.  As usual, I digress.

The point is that art has so many different manifestations and to attempt to confine it solely to a visual or musical context is doing a disservice to the latent creativity truly passionate people bring to their craft.  In my “past life” as I like to call it, I worked in the civil engineering and consulting fields.  Two of the people I worked for were as passionate about their work as engineers/consultants as any artist I’ve ever met.  Is it art?  In the traditional sense of the word, hell no.  But to them, it’s their art.  Each document they drafted or audit they performed bore their particular signature and that made it unique.  I think the element of passion and what psychologists call the “competence/confidence” loop play a major role here as well.  But for me to call myself an artist, and for my wife who used to work as an interior designer and who has the ability to make the inside of a tent look like the honeymoon suite at the Ritz (for real) not to call herself is an artist is a selfish and self-aggrandizing act if you ask me.

Also art.
Also art.

So the point is, find art wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.  We are all artists in our own right and can apply the concept of art to our craft no matter what it is.  Each day brings with it the opportunity for us to put our own unique signature on the world through our work.  That’s awesome.  Seriously.  To the engineers, janitors, landscapers, business executives, dog walkers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and everyone else in the world, be an artist.  Every damn day.

-Evan

 

Surgery image courtesy http://animalpetdoctor.homestead.com/surgery.html

 

 

 

 

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