When is it ok to call yourself an artist? Is it when you sell a few pieces of work? Is it when you make a full time living from it? Is it when you are represented by a gallery or when you’ve had a well-attended solo exhibition? Or is it simply when you spend time when you can, creating art because you love it?…
I’m a sucker for taking advice from a few podcasters I admire, and Sara Tasker encourages us to call ourselves what we do, and it doesn’t matter if you never make a penny doing it. After all, if you potter in your garden every weekend, you’d call yourself a gardener. If you love going on long walks up mountains, you’d call yourself a hiker; and so, in a fit of rare confidence, I spontaneously changed my Instagram bio to include the word ‘artist.’ It said, Writer, artist, fairytale dressmaker. And about two weeks later I chickened out and changed it again! Right now, I say I create art, and that’s fine with me for the moment.
If you don’t have a straight-forward job that’s easy to define, it’s tricky to know what to say at a social gathering or at the doctor’s (it’s happened twice there recently!) when they ask what you do. I always flounder with that question as I spend so much more time on marketing in one way or another, than actually making anything!
So, even though I wouldn’t yet call myself an artist if someone were to ask me; inside I feel like an artist – I think I always have done, since right back as a child when I couldn’t wait each year for Father Christmas to bring me another sketchpad in my stocking so I could start drawing again. And now I have a fancy desk and a linen apron with pockets, I sure as hell feel like a proper artist!