Am I An Artist?
Gem Praise Romano
Illustration and Visual Media
So far on my DPS year, I have managed to complete a 4 month internship in a PR company and have taken on a few freelancing gigs. Doing things I didn’t plan to do made me wonder ‘what is my role as an artist?’ Is it to make work? Is it to self-express? Is to produce work other people cannot make on their own due to their limited skillset? What is it?
Thinking about this made me think about my future; as I like to think of myself as a multi-disciplinary artist, what does that mean for my career? Will I be making work to see or will I be making work for my employer? Will I end up working in a company that is in the creative industry or not at all?
With all the talent and skills I’ve see around me in university and social media, a lot of the time I feel like I don’t have the right to call myself an artist because I don’t have much proof of my creativity. I don’t even know what my style is. I’m an ‘artist’ in the Illustration and Visual Media course but I don’t even draw - how does that even work? It shouldn’t but it does…I think.
This is one of my biggest anxieties as a creative, not being able to draw. I’ve always struggled with illustration because I knew that the outcome on my paper would not correlate with what went on inside my head so to save me from the pain, I just wouldn’t try or practice - I’d rather have something perfected at the first try as I’m impatient and I hate going through ‘the process’. I know that artists aren’t magically born, they have talent but they also need to put in the effort to expand their skills - which I feel I definitely don’t have so am I even an artist? Am I even a creative? What even is a creative?
According to Christensen (2008), being creative means solving a problem in a new way, changing your perspective - it means taking risks and ignoring doubt and facing fears. It means breaking from routine and doing something different for the sake of doing something different. Does this mean I’m not a creative then? I’m too scared to take risks with my illustration skills, I one hundred percent constantly doubt myself which is why I don’t bother picking up a pencil.
If all of these fears and worries consume me so much about one skill called drawing, why did I still choose to take on this path? If everyone around me is so great with just a pen and can create universes with just their fingers, why am I choosing to walk down a road I know I will struggle in?
With a few of my freelancing briefs, I’ve realised that with clients, you’re there to serve them - you are there to do the ‘making’ job because they don’t know how or don’t have the capacity to do it; they have the vision but not the time or skill. One of my briefs that I’m completing now is to produce multiple videos to be a part of a musical in my church’s 25th anniversary and it is slowly becoming a very trying but humbling time.
My client has an idea of what they want but not a clear vision, so when I produce mock ups they have a lot of feedback which I didn’t expect which include video techniques and effects I don’t know how to recreate yet. As I’m close with the client, I can freely tell them, I don’t have the knowledge but I’ll put in the effort to learn which is humbling me as I thought the client was the problem who wanted so much but in fact it was actually me as my skillset isn’t as varied as I thought.
Going through this it made me feel like an imposter and I was lying to everyone especially myself as I thought I knew what I was doing but in fact I didn’t have a clue. Does this make me any less an artist, a creative, a director, a producer (etc) then?
I’ve researched this question multiple times and the one main point that came up is making something to show a perspective (from either the factual or personal). From creating work for aesthetic value or potential political change, all art is made to create something to inform another being (yes that includes yourself). With aesthetic value, it is to show beauty in a certain object, with political views, it’s to show a belief.
The four most common points of the role of an artist I found were; artists make a visual record of the people, places and events of their time and place, artists help us to see the world in new or innovative ways, artists make functional objects and structures (buildings) more pleasurable and elevate them or inspire and artists give form to the immaterial (hidden or universal truths, spiritual forces, personal feelings.
Whether you’re a painter, a graphic designer, a fine artist or photographer, our sole purpose is to create - whatever that may be. Before I would struggle with starting to create work because my laziness would be screaming at me (which is also the reason I don’t practice) but now that I’m starting to get a taste of the real industry, I’m being shocked into working for it - putting in more time and more effort to enhance my imagination and skillset.
I know right? A lazy artist? That makes no sense, how can I be an artist if I have no work to show for it? It’s why I have imposter syndrome but with the fear of not being able to do what I love because of my lack of skills, I don’t want that to be the reason I end up taking a normal office job where I cannot be creative. With the time I have left of my DPS year, I’m going to put in more effort to learn and practice for everything I need to become the best artist I can be.
As of now I can’t confidently call myself an artist but by the end of May, I hope to confidently be able to.
Immerman, S (no date), What Is The Artist's Role in Society?. Available at: https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/what-is-the-artist-s-role-in-society
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Daffurn, H (2015), Times Have Changed: The Evolving Role of an Artist. Available at:https://blog.artweb.com/art-and-culture/the-role-of-an-artist/
Sachant, P (2019), Who is Considered an Artist? What Does it Mean to be an Artist?. Available at: https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Art/Book%3A_Introduction_to_Art_-_Design%2C_Context%2C_and_Meaning_(Sachant_et_al.)/01%3A_What_is_Art%3F/1.03%3A_Who_is_Considered_an_Artist%3F_What_Does_it_Mean_to_be_an_Artist%3F
Widmer, J (2018), The Four Fundamental Roles of the Artist. Available at: https://prezi.com/p/n0htugxq-dtl/the-four-fundamental-roles-of-the-artist/?webgl=0
University of South Carolina Upstate, (2012), Roles of the Artist. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/mdickins430/ch-1-roles-of-the-artist
Christensen, T (2010), What Does it Mean to be Creative?. Available at: https://creativesomething.net/post/428455618/what-does-it-mean-to-be-creative
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