I have never thought of myself as an artist. A creative, yes. But perhaps more of a creative technician, taking other people's visions and breathing life into them. I remember talking to my father years ago about what artists are (he knows a lot of them) and he said, well, I know this: an artist is somebody who creates because they can't not create.
Hmmm... Seems true, I thought. But it doesn't sound like me.
Part of doing creative work that's client-based, which is what I do professionally, is that you learn not to get too attached to it. There comes a point in every project where you have to let your vision go in support of their vision. They're the client. It's their baby at the end of the day.
But this idea of being an artist still tugged at me. Do you think of yourself as an artist? I asked a colleague I love and respect, on a work trip one night at a hotel bar in suburban Houston. I was surprised when he said yes. I felt so far away from that.
I started taking pictures and, at some point, began to think of myself as someone who takes pictures. The word photographer still got stuck in my throat. But something happened as I neared the end of my 365 project, and as I was putting together my video and looking back through the pictures I thought huh, it looks like a photographer made this.
I didn't have time to take any pictures last week, and by the time the weekend rolled around I felt like a caged animal. I just needed to take my camera and go on a walk. Maybe that's a sign. I told Kim Klassen that I'm tip-toeing up to permission to think of myself as an artist. She got very excited, and pointed me to this post in which she writes about her experience of becoming an artist. She says that being an artist introduced her to a world in which anything was possible. I thought yeah, I want that to be me!
I talked to my friend Kelly, an artist in Austin, yesterday. I said, I think I might be becoming an artist.
WHAT??? she said. You are already an artist. I have known this forever. I am the creator and president of the Corinna-is-an-amazing-artist fan club! I'm SO GLAD you've finally decided to join us.
I don't know if Kelly is creating membership cards for this club, but if she does, I imagine they'll look something like this:I don't know how my life will change when I cross over into being an artist, but I feel like I'm right there, oh so close and I can almost taste it.
Any of you guys want to give me a hint? If you're an artist, what does it mean to you? Is it important to see yourself that way? What happens when you claim that identity?