Can you be an artist if you call yourself one?
It seems that everyone can be an artist these days, if I got a dollar for every video or blog I have seen over the past 6 years with people saying 'If you want to be an artist you can, if you want to call yourself an artist you can, you ARE an artist.' But come on, can you really call yourself a true artist? Just because you make a handful of artworks from time to time, do you have the right to call yourself a TRUE one?
When starting out many 'artists' want to be good straight away, and they inadvertently put a lot of unnecessary pressure on themselves to be the best. They seem to want and almost expect that they will start creating fantastic work straight away or at least in the first year.
I've seen it time and time again, people giving up because they don't feel they are good enough or they can't find their 'niche or style.' Also, living in such a busy 'results' driven society, we have all been conditioned to seek some sort of 'result' quickly, after all the school system is all about results. Art is different.
I'm going to say this and I know not many are gonna like it or agree but this is something I feel strongly about. It takes at LEAST three years from when you start on a creative journey to even begin to get half decent (unless your one of the lucky talented few). You should be trying every style, every genre of art to work out where your talent lies.
How do you really know where your strengths lie if you're just pursuing one genre or style? What if you only stick to painting and unbeknownst to you sculpture is where your real talent is hiding? One thing my mentor drummed into my head from the beginning was the idea to try everything even if you didn't think it was 'my thing.' She showed me some of her sculptures which she then used to create 3d drawings from. Learning to sculpt and see things in 3d helps you to draw/paint better. Sculpture helps you see things from all angles in your mind.
That is one thing I appreciated about the discipline of academic study. In the first year you are made to try everything, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, drawing, digital and conceptual art. Then in second year you would decide on a handful of subjects, then the year after that you would narrow it down further to just a couple of areas of real dedicated study. The most interesting exhibitions I have been to are where artists are working in many different mediums and genres to get their message across. So, they have paintings, drawings, some sculptures, video installation, prints and merchandise. Because not only are they becoming a better artist but by working in different discipline, they are getting their message across in different ways which helps get the message across to all sorts of people. OK, let me make one point, I am not saying if you choose to work in just one field that you are not a true artist! Being a true artist is about the discipline and dedication to your craft and putting in the time to mature!
Before you beat up on yourself for not being good enough, or for not having the technical skills to create what you want, remember, give yourself three years to develop. Be like a sponge, try everything, even if you don't think you will like it.
Don't be too eager to want to get to the top. Keep your ego in check because no one likes an artist who constantly blows their own horn 24/7 especially when their work says other things.
My opinion is that to be a true artist you need to do the time. The whole 'Oh you can be an artist if you want' just degrades and cheapens the true meaning of what an artist is. True artists take time to develop themselves, they are consistent, dedicated, and focused on learning all the time. It's about developing a set of skills which can only happen over a period of time.
I get asked to critique people's work and it is something I love to do, but generally if I know the person hasn't been creating for about 3 years, then I will not take too much notice of what they are producing. Sure, I can guide them and give them all sorts of advice about painting techniques, rules, etc., but it can take years before someone finds something they can really sink their teeth into. In fact, it can take a lifetime.
My role as an arts educator is to help people develop skills, not only technical but psychological as well. So give yourself three years, after that you can begin to pick on yourself a little and then so will I! Have a great day ;)