You meet someone new at a party and they ask you what you do. Do you reply in a bold and confident manner “I am an artist.”?
Or do you look down at the scuff marks on your shoes and mumble 'I’m an art teacher' or 'I’m a stay-at-home Mom' or even 'I make jewellery' or the dreaded 'I’m not working at the moment…'
Why it’s Hard to Claim Your Artist Identity
There are a whole host of reasons we have trouble defining as ourselves as an 'artist':
The cultural stereotype of the mad genius in his garret still intimidates a lot of us would-be artists, yet just as many creatives tend towards introversion as flamboyance.
Do I have to be an artist 24 hours a day?
Just as you don’t need to have any of the qualities from the previous list to be taken seriously as an artist, nor do you need to work full time at your art to be entitled to label yourself this way.
There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mum and an artist; an art teacher and an artist; an engineer and an artist; to earn our living making and selling jewellery and to still be an artist. There’s no mutual exclusivity here. Often, one thing feeds the other. The key is to take yourself seriously and set aside time regularly to work at your chosen art form.
J.K. Rowling began her second novel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets whilst studying for a postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE), requiring a full-time, year-long course of study. Rowling wrote in cafés having walked her baby daughter to sleep. So there is no excuse for your Inner Critic to call you less of an artist whatever social circumstances you find yourself in—or for you to use them as an excuse not to make YOUR art.
The Importance of What We Say
Our inability to label ourselves as artists is fundamental to what happens in the rest of our creative lives. What we say about ourselves is what we believe we are. It’s how others first perceive us and it’s how we perceive ourselves. Not allowing ourselves to believe we are artists undermines our creative practice from the beginning so it’s not surprising we get blocked.
After all, if you never tell anyone else, how are you going to convince yourself?
Claim Your Artist Identity Now!
Claim your identity here and now in the comments. Say "I am an artist!" and write a sentence about the kind of art you make. Pink hair not required.