It takes great courage to say “I’m an artist”. At least I find it hard. The true artist is Gauguin, Picasso, Andy Warhol…Or the guy next door who wears paint-stained clothes and seems to constantly be making something new and creative. But when it comes to ourselves, we may see the little bit of painting, sketching or craft-making that we do, or the fact that we don’t do anything ‘artistic’ at all, not enough to make us an artist.
Real artists do certain things (smoke wed, go to hip cecafes) and live a certain lifestyle (lounge around a lot of the time, then spend intense times being amazingly creative). If you don’t fit, you can’t call yourself an artist.
But ask yourself again; ‘What do artists actually do?’. The image of the ‘artist’ or the ‘artistic person’ may be clouding what it is that actually makes them an artist – which isn’t the clothes or the fact that they smoke weed. What is common to all these people is that they create Artists are creators.
You may think you’re not very creative, so again, no way you’re an artist. But creativity isn’t something that you either have or you don’t. Creativity needs space to flourish, and this is something we have very little for nowadays.
Space in the sense of a few hours of boredom in which you don’t play on your phone or check facebook, where you can let your mind wander the limitless bounds of its imagination. But space also in the sense of being given the freedom in your work to explore new ideas and ways of doing things. Writing an essay is essentially an act of creativity. Yet our potential for being creative, for being an artist in this process, is squashed by the pages and pages of guidelines and marking criteria that we need to follow in order to get a good mark.
Humans are naturally artistic. Our lives are full of moments when we transform reality, when we explore and sculpt our lives in unique ways and create new realities and new things for ourselves and others. This is all creativity, an artist’s work. Today though, it is harder to find these moments as we are not given the time and space. At school we are taught to just give the responses that the teacher is looking for, learn what you need to know for the exam, and no more. No space for exploration or creativity, no time. Just follow instructions. At uni it’s no better. Deep down everyone wants to get a good grade, and if the lecturers tell you exactly what you need to do to get one, then why try anything else? Why explore?
So when you are seeking to bring more art and creativity into your life, to become an ‘artist’, perhaps a good start is to free yourself from the worry of following the endless rules and instructions for life and work that exist out there (including how you should dress to become more artistic). Give yourself the time and dare to explore.