Drawing has been a part of me as long as I remember myself, but I never really understood anyone telling me I’m “totally an artist”. For me, the definition of an artist is something exotic: an esoteric, retracted creative who is somehow more connected than most to the true meaning of life. Or someone who has gone to art school, sneezing on a canvas and selling it for an easy mil or so at a fancy art auction. I drew unicorns, ponies and wolf cubs and didn’t see how it had anything to do with art.
Rewind a few (10+..) years ahead and I’m a ‘tattoo artist’. Queue being increasingly told “wow, you’re such a talented artist, I wish I was just as talented as you!” I understood that those were compliments, but not the true meaning of them – to me, all of my clients are insanely talented, from what I’ve heard of their jobs and hobbies. How inventive, flexible and creative you have to be to solve problems in those fields of work. Completely alien skills for me, so I listen in awe and think to myself how talented they are. If only they realized.
More and more I have pondered over the question, what really is an artist? I haven’t studied in art school, so am I not one? Some believe that tattoos are merely a branch of the beauty field. For long I felt like a designer of the human skin, working with the client to change a boring white canvas into something beautiful. Until! A little switch flipped in my brain!
Within the last couple of years I’ve started searching for other creative outlets to spend my time and energy on. I tried photography in different contexts (shelter animals, portraits, fantasy). That developed into an interest in stylistics, wigs and make-up. That in turn developed into creating garments from my own illustrations that would give me a chance to express myself better and would widen my audience from solely tattoo clients. And then I realised: I really am an artist! An artist is a person who lives and breathes creativity, who wishes to add form, shape and colour wherever humanly possible. I felt like a “non-artist” because people consume my art. But that’s not the point! It makes sense that if I create something I love so dearly, I’d like other people to enjoy it as well and give them a chance to connect with me through it.
As a bit of an introvert, art acts as a method of communication with the outside world. Creation is my fantasy dream, and I will drag anyone remotely interested there with me. Everyone can and may be an artist, the secret lies in enjoying what you do and sharing it with the people around you.
What do you think: what does it mean to be an artist?