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wundayatta's avatar

How do you decide when to call yourself an artist (of any kind)?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) August 13th, 2010

Is there a quality standard to call yourself an artist? Or can anyone who writes anything call themselves a writer? Anyone who knocks two sticks on a log can call themselves a musician? Or does it have to be of some quality, such as others recognizing you are an artist? What quality standard is that?

Is there a stick-to-it-tiveness component? You have to practice your art regularly for a certain period of time? How long is that?

Do you only have to think of yourself as an artist to call yourself an artist to other people? Does calling yourself an artist make you an artist?

What do you have to do in order to call yourself an artist and feel like you are telling the truth?

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17 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

After I started making quilts and had several small shows and sales, I called myself a quilter.

Cruiser's avatar

For me an artist is truly an artist when they do their “art” purely for the love of it and would do it no matter how little money they made or how much or little recognition that received doing it. IMO, you have to have that passion to do it no matter what to earn the title of “artist”.

marinelife's avatar

I think you if you create art, you are an artist. Which is not to say that you are a professional artist.

josie's avatar

You can call yourself an artist any time you want. Nobody else will until they buy something you created.

silverfly's avatar

I think the word artist includes a realm of thinking rather than doing or selling art. In my opinion, an artist is someone who looks at the world differently than others. An artist tries to live in the present, studying, observing, and connecting.

To have this mindset and outlook about the world introduces new problems to the artist that others don’t seem to struggle with. I’m thinking about Van Gogh, Mozart, Picasso, Dali, Da Vinci. These men were amazing artists and yet seemed to be cut off from “normalcy” in the sense that they were labeled as “crazy”, “off”, or just “weird”. I think rather than being weird or crazy, that these people were artists. They didn’t fit the mold; they looked at the world differently; and therefore, they created some of most famous pieces of timeless art.

And as for myself, I am by no stretch comparable to the great artists in terms of artistic talent and quality, but I do share similar views and interests about the world. To look beyond the flower, the landscape, the human form and see something spiritual (not religious, but other-worldly) is what, in my opinion, makes the artist an artist. I enjoy photography, painting, drawing, web design, and playing music. I am not amazing at these things and cannot label myself an artist from my desire to do them, but I do think about the world in a unique way and I struggle with things that many do not, so in this sense, I do call myself an artist.

the_state_of_wisconsin's avatar

anyone can call themselves an artist…whether or not you are good, is a different matter.

i think its easier to be less concerned with living up to things like the idea of the “artist” and be more concerned with just being a “maker”...people can decide whether or not it is art, that’s how it has always worked anyways.

that said, if you are pursuing the idea of making “art” than you are an artist…with that said, you could have the big “what is art?” conversation, but that rarely goes anywhere…

just make stuff, and have conversations about it.


When I sold my first painting, I called myself an artist.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@RANGIEBABY How much did your mom pay you for it? (I’m sorry…I just couldn’t resist.)

CMaz's avatar

When YOU believe that.

Being an artist is what it brings you. Not what it does for others.
Of course it is nice when they both converge.

Frenchfry's avatar

When you recieve your first compliment on your work.

Jeruba's avatar

Never. I think that “artist,” like “sage,” “philosopher,” and “saint,” is a term of honor that is conferred by others.

downtide's avatar

@Jeruba I think this is an excellent observation.

Blondesjon's avatar

I usually flip a coin, after several drinks, and go from there.

I do this daily to keep it interesting. I’ve gotten the coin flipping thing down to an art form.

the drinking too, for that matter

YARNLADY's avatar

When I discovered that my work was more valuable if I was a registered Native American Artist, I registered with the Choctaw Nation. That way I can legally sell my stuff at higher prices. My profits all go to charity, so the more, the better.


@Pied_Pfeffer A dentist bought it for $450. I didn’t know him, but he said he was going to hang it in his office. Actually my mom and dad were artists themselves.:)

everyhuman's avatar

Great question. Since I am an Artist – a real artist, I will answer this – a question I remember considering for a while.

Here is the simple answer, and, you’ll know who here is an authentic artist by those who don’t disagree with it: If you become a true artist, and when you become a real artist, you will know. No suspect, or wonder, or have a hunch. There will be zero question as to whether you are an artist or not. The reason behind this is a bit more complex but I will give you the very short version. The answer is this. In order to become an artist, you need to “become” 100 times what you ever thought you’d need to become… and you need to get 100 times better at your particular form or instrument, than you ever realized, and finally, as you are becoming an artist – society will know it; society also knows how few real artist there are and how many bullshit artists there are; so, the world around you will be your most devastating test and obstacle. Kind of like if you were to proclaim you were going to become a spiritual leader, your honesty and authenticity will need to be obscenely convincing. There will never come a time when society or anyone else will let you know that you are an artist or you are now great enough to think yourself one. Simply because these steps I have mentioned are so difficult – for so many years – you will become large enough – great enough – to know what art is and know you are an artist. This is known at the same time. If you have any doubt if your are an artist or not – then necessarily – you do not yet fully know what art is – understand it. THUS: the artist understands art and because of which, he understands he is an artist. If you get to this point, society will just know it – people will see that you authentically know, and the questions goes away and never is relevant again.

wundayatta's avatar

@everyhuman That is a very high standard, I think. It would exclude many, maybe even most people who consider themselves artists today.

I think that answer is comforting to me. I think I have that kind of standard, too. It is a standard that is too high for me to achieve, which leaves me free to do what I want without worrying about it. Pretty much what I’m doing, anyway. I would love to be an artist, but I don’t think I ever will be one.

I like the idea that society participates in the process of becoming an artist. Again, that fits with my intuitive feeling about it. I have always felt that if people weren’t willing to pay me to do something, then I wasn’t that something. Although, perhaps that is not the standard of public approval you were thinking of.

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