Thursday, August 27

Six Observations on Being an "Artist"

Today’s Image
Icon for "Artist"
Courtesy of Microsoft

During everyone’s life there is ebb and flow, ups and downs--what we used to call bio-rhythm a long time ago. Artists are as likely to experience these times as much as anyone, perhaps even more so for whatever reason. It could be a creative thing or whatever, sunspots, maybe?

Today’s blog is a reality check about being an “artist.”

It’s going on two years now since I re-discovered art as an interest in my life. Looking back, I notice I have had, and continue to have, ups and downs, fits and starts. At times I’m looking for new directions while still trying to figure out what it is that I’m actually doing. (Sound familiar? Read on…)

Bad news—I still don’t know.

Good news—I think I’m getting closer (maybe) and want to share a few observations.

Observation 1

You have to understand where you’re at. I know that’s not grammatically correct, but it’s, nevertheless, true. If you don’t know where you and your art are, you can’t figure out where to go, so you just hang there, wherever that is, twisting, so to speak. I don’t think it’s a good place to be although some artists relish it.

Observation 2

Following on to Observation 1, there should be a there, there. I’m referring to the old joke about Philadelphia--“there is no there, there.” My apologies to the city of brotherly love, but you must be or get grounded in your abilities and aspirations somehow. This is also referred to as being comfortable in your own skin, art “skin,” that is. As Popeye says, “I am what I am.” (If you don’t know who Popeye is, Google him.)

Observation 3

You must have this conversation with yourself and ask, “why am I doing this (creating art)?” Most of us will not be honest—even with ourselves. Imagine that. It really doesn’t matter what the answer is, the important thing is that you admit why you are really doing this. Really.

If it’s to become famous, say so. If it’s to have your work hang in a gallery, say so. If it’s to make money, somehow, admit it. If it’s because you are guided by an “unknown force,” realize it. But for your own sake, you must answer this question truthfully. The rest of your art life depends on it.

Observation 4

Perseverance is the no. 1, key, over-arching, most important, big, enormous attribute of being an artist. This doesn’t mean perseverance trumps the truth of Observation 3, but this means you won’t make any progress without it. You cannot focus on anything else. Art, art, and art some more.

Observation 5

You only have to please yourself. Learn this lesson and your art life will suddenly, fantastically take on a whole new vibrant creative break-through.

Observation 6

The moment of truth. In my readings about the well known and the not so well known artists throughout art history, I found one thing they all had in common: their only goal was to create art.

If it’s not your one and only goal, then you are not an artist.



  1. Hello! These are some great observations... I've written a response to this on my blog as well as added a seventh observation of my own: to advance your art career you need to put yourself into situations that make you uncomfortable. Thanks for the post!

  2. Ah if only pleasing one's self paid the bills in a timely fashion!

    I actually do agree with you, but in order to please one's self, there should also be a bread and butter option too, don't you think?


  3. Thanks,Euphrosene Labon, and I agree--I'm a realist and know you have to do paying work when you'd rather do something else. I was speaking in the artistic sense of being able to create the artwork you really really want to do (and that it also sells!) I appreciate your comments and please visti and comment often