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Ask the Artist

Blogs: #4 of 42

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I am starting a new series of blog posts called "Ask the Artist". Once a month I will be answering questions posed to me by my readers, which focus on art making and making a living with art. If you have questions about my art, how I create my pieces or just questions in general about art, please send them my way. I will answer them to the best of my ability, even contacting fellow creative people when possible to broaden the scope of the answer. The purpose of these posts is to help demystify the creative process for those who may not think of themselves as artistic and to help encourage other artists to find a life in the arts. Here is the first question launching this series:

At what point in your career do you go from considering yourself someone who makes art to a full-fledged artist?

I think this is a question that must be answered individually and determined by the artist alone.
I might even suggest that there is no dividing line between one who makes art and one who is an artist. In my training and practice of Buddhism, the Zen Master always cautioned about labeling oneself. As soon as we state, "I am this" or "I am an Artist" one limits oneself to that definition and must then begin to determine the parameters of this identity. Questions such as "what is an artist?" beg to be asked. Or "how do I know I am an artist?" These statements and the answers to them limit us as well: "if I am an artist, can I be anything else?" Such questions can take a lifetime to answer. Hence, the eternal Buddhist question: "Who am I?"

Instead, the Zen Master suggested, we identify with what we do. "I paint." "I make sculpture." "I write." "I drink tea." We are not limiting our identities this way, and thus, the question of when or how one becomes an artist isn't necessary. We are not self-limited to our ideas of what an artist may or may not be nor beholden to others definitions of what an artist might be.

Possibilities are wide open. We just create. I think that is what is important.