If we are somehow connected on any social media website or, by chance, happen to actually know each other in real life you’ll notice, while I consider myself a creative person, I never refer to myself as an artist. This is not meant to be a cut at people who call themselves artists. In fact, I happen to know several people who have devoted their current existence to creating art or supporting art in the local community. However, you will never find me referring to myself as an artist. Perhaps it’s prejudicial or just one of the many random hang-ups I have about the most banal things in life, but I feel so pretentious when referring to anything I do as “art”.
Let’s be clear. I am a writer, an aspirating musician and I try to be a photographer when I can find my camera (it’s in a box somewhere and I don’t know where I put it). I carry a notebook with me at all times where I compile ideas for song lyrics and I’m constantly working on new songs and ideas in my head. But I don’t consider myself an artist. Others might. But I don’t.
My experience with art has been an interesting one. I have a good friend who spent a good portion of a year traveling, using her art and coming up with new ideas for art while traveling all over the place. I have another friend who gave me an awesome print of a painting she did of Henry Rollins for my birthday one year and I love it to death. I have yet another friend who was working on creating masks and made one based off imagery for some tattoos and things I had written. So, my life is not without creative people and it is not without aesthetic and artistic endeavors.
I just can’t call myself an artist.
My experience is based off attending an art show or two. While I adore the people I knew who were showing, it was really hard for me to feel like I fit in. I think, culturally, artists have been assigned their own subculture and are often rendered their own little area in the world where they are allowed to exist outside the realm of the people who don’t share their enthusiasm for creating new and beautiful ideas. I see this perception in myself and in other people that artists are an untouchable class in the sense that they can do something a lot of other people can’t. This may be partly true. I know someone who creates some of the most detailed work I have ever seen and it’s because of her deadly attention to how she composes the piece and, especially, what brushes she uses to create her pieces.
At the same time, I also think people are intimidated by creative people when they, themselves, are not creative in that fashion. I am not a painter, at least not like the people I know. My hands shake terribly all the time and I don’t possess the coordination or talent to draw or paint with any great precision or detail. That’s just not my gift. I don’t belong in that niche and I am somewhat intimidated but those who are. I don’t think they are better than I, necessarily, but I do find myself avoiding events where I would have to mingle with people like that. Well, that and social anxiety but that’s another blog altogether.
I don’t think creative abilities should be a deterrent to being creative or making something new using the tools that God gave you. We are all built with the ability to use our minds to create, we all just do it in different ways. In theory, someone who work wonders with fixing vehicles should be on par with someone who can create masterful works of art on canvas with a brush. Someone like me who spends a lot of time creating new ideas with the English language rather than clay should be no less of a creative force.
Maybe it’s just me and my own perceptions I’m trying to repair but I just can’t shake the feeling that, sometimes, art is treated as its own particular club where only the elite creatives are allowed membership. I think a lot of people have that perception as well because art has often been lifted up as the ultimate of the aesthetic pleasures. I’m not putting down anyone and their talents; I am merely addressing something i’ve perceived over the last few months. But I still don’t consider myself an artist. Creative, intuitive and maybe a wordsmith but never an artist.
Because, if I’m an wrist, than everyone else is an artist too.