Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Is An Artist?

The Websters-Merriam Dictionary provides us with this:
Pronunciation: \ˈär-tist\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1507
1a: obsolete : one skilled or versed in learned arts
1b: archaic : physician
1c: archaic : artisan
2a: one who professes and practices an imaginative art
2b: a person skilled in one of the fine arts
3: a skilled performer ; especially : artiste
4: one who is adept at something (con artist) (strikeout artist)
The Oxford English Dictionary provides this definition:
1: a person who paints or draws as a profession or hobby.
2: a person who practises or performs any of the creative arts.
3: informal a habitual practitioner of a specified activity: a con artist.
And finally from Webster's New World College Dictionary we get:
art·ist (ärt′ist)
1: a person who works in, or is skilled in the techniques of, any of the fine arts, esp. in painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.
2: a person who does anything very well, with imagination and a feeling for form, effect, etc.
3: a professional person in any of the performing arts
This is almost as thought provoking as the difference between art and craft, isn't it? When I tell someone that I am an artist the first question I usually get is "What do you paint?" Occasionally I get "What medium do you use?" And then "What type of artist?" Then I try to explain exactly what I do and with what. It is much simpler if I have something on my person to show them but that is not always possible. For instance, right now I have jewelry samples scattered all over the country and few to wear! But I digress. What is an artist? I love that phrases like "con artist" are included in the definitions above.

So, what makes me an artist? According to jury panels of several art shows, I am an artist because I am skilled in a technique considered a fine art and I work in mixed media. According to the New World Dictionary above, I'm an artist because I do something ". . . very well, with imagination and a feeling for form, effect, etc." Hmm, what is the "etc." I wonder? Websters-Merriam says "one who professes and practices an imaginative art". I can identify with that and I hope there are a few folk out there who identify me as that.

So your philosophical questions for the day are these. What makes an artist? Are you an artist? Do you fit any of the definitions above? Share. You know we like to find these things out about you.

Oh, and one last tidbit. My Coral Reef Bracelet got included in a treasury:
Many thanks to OVResident for including it in his Treasury.


Anonymous said...

Even though you probably know my answer after all these years... remember you asked for it.

I think that first and foremost an "artist" must not only have "skill", they must be "proficient" at their "art". I think the label of artist is used too freely, just as is the label of "designer". I truly appreciate when someone takes the time to come up with an "original idea" and can bring it to fruition skillfully and create something beautiful. That is an "Artist/Designer". (Copying someone elses work and taking credit for it is neither.) A true artist doesn't want to create, they need to create. I believe it is part of who they are on a spiritual level and you can see it in their work. They are knowledgeable about their medium and tools of the trade. And hopefully they can make a living at it too.

*edit this out if you like*
I see a lot of... well let's call it what it is... schist on a string out there. And while sometimes it's pretty, if you take a good look, it's usually poorly finished/executed and there isn't much thought put into it. Like the paint-brush-weilding-elephant...he is not an "artist" and that is not art. And most importantly...art is not something factory made or mass produced.

So, to answer your questions...
I believe I am an artist. I am skilled and proficient, knowledgeable about my medium and the tools needed to bring my design ideas to life. I do not copy. My creativity is part of who I am. If I am not doing something creative I am not being true to myself. On a good day, my work sells, and when it doesn't that's okay too.

I used to be just a beader. Now, after many many years(+25yrs) of study and practice, I can truly call myself an Artist.

My name is Clara.
I am a Jewelry Artist/Designer and Amateur Photographer (working on the skills to change amateur to artist).

Bead-Mused said...

Well said, Chica. And I do believe that the Art Photographer title is just around the bend.


Anonymous said...

Oh, almost forgot (too busy with my tirade)!!

Congrats on the Treasury!

T's and artist, she's an artist, wouldn't you like to be an artist too.....


Bead-Mused said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.