I have been thinking about the word “artist” and what it means to be one. Obviously it’s a person that creates art, so why do we have to still get into debates over whether a person is an artist or not? Why do some people still believe that only the chosen few should have the title of “artist” stamped to their forehead?
The confusion naturally leads to the word “art” which is probably where all the mix-up starts. If a person has his/her own definition of art narrowed down to include pretty paintings and realistic sculpture, they may not classify a lot of artists as “artists”.
It’s a bit like my dad’s definition of God (which he thinks does not exist).. it’s narrow minded. Just because there’s no white bearded man in the clouds looking over us with a judging eye doesn’t mean there is no God, it just means that God might be something else. God might be the wind or spirit or the breath we breathe or he might even be the bum on the street that we always look down on. Perhaps my dad’s God is skepticism or science.
I got a little sidetracked there, and there’s probably no connection at all with artists and my dad’s definition of God! But my point was that “artists” can be more than an old man in the clouds with a white beard, looking down upon us with a judging eye. Oh, wait, that was God I was talking about. OK, “artists” can be more than a depressed, single, broke male with mental issues, hiding in his studio for his entire life, never selling any work, and becoming famous only when he’s dead.
The struggling artist is such a negative myth to cling to and having a narrow view of what art is can be almost as silly as clinging to fictional interpretations of what an artist is. Last time I checked what art is in the dictionary, it told me that it was a subjective and hard to define word.
So I start with classifying everything I see as art and that way I don’t miss anything that could be interesting to me. Of course I put things into different categories of art, but everything I see goes into the art box. There’s people as works of art, silly art, nature’s art, easel art, weird art, word art, shock art, ugly art, toilet art, car art, rubbish art, realistic art, crazy art, money art, shit art, and so on. Everything is art, just different types of art.
It’s a great way to appreciate the things around us that we pass by everyday too. I can get just as excited over a shape in a bathroom tile as I can over a good painting. A pile of old shoes can interest me as much as a bronze Rodin sculpture.
I would rather include too much in my definition of art than not enough. I sometimes feel like I’m walking around in a giant art museum, which can be a little over-stimulating at times, but at least I never get bored.
My definition of an artist includes people like Damien Hirst, even if I don’t like some of his art. Just because you don’t like the work of an artist, or the fact that an artist uses assistants (remember that a lot of old masters used assistants), doesn’t mean the person is not an artist.
Update: Here’s a funny video asking What is Art?