Artist as Label

At what point are creative folks comfortable describing themselves as artists? I know I’ve had a reluctance to do so, even though art is one of the constant themes in my life. I ran across this post by Seth Apter that describes the problem well: A is for Artist.

The arguments for being an artist like I’ve been a student or am now a parent certainly apply. But I don’t call myself a chef for liking to cook. Maybe that’s what’s missing: the level. Ahh, but of what: expertise, attention, results?

The comments are particularly telling, and echo the discussions I’ve had with art buddies over the years. I’m happy to say, it’s getting easier. I’m putting more time into my art these days, finding more artists to hang with online and in real life, and okay with the fact that, as any label, none of them defines any of us completely.

What labels do you accept, or reject, for yourself?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. LauraZ says:

    Interesting question, Liz, and one I’ve pondered myself. I’ve thrown pots, but never could think of myself as a potter, and I do photography now but don’t think of myself as a photographer in a fully developed (pardon the pun) way. The only thing in my recent past that I have been, and easily labeled myself as, is a rower. Why was that so easy and natural, but not so in my art pursuits? I’m not really sure… I rowed for seven years in a fully committed way, rowing 5 days a week and enjoying moderate success at it. Made not a dime (but spent much!)… I wonder — why did I embrace a rower label so easily but not potter or photographer? Is it amount of time spent? Education? Recognition by peers? By others? Success in a monetary way? Very interesting discussion, allright…

  2. Liz says:

    Oooh, this might be cultural. Since the question in North America, “What do you do?” is often tied to “What is your source of income?” the “Artist” answer can lead to “Oh, are you full-time? Where do you show?” etc. When instead it goes to “What is your medium?” of course that’s a delightful conversation. But perhaps that contributes to shying away from the label.

    Am I onto something here? How would this conversation go elsewhere?

Chime in!