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“…but I’m not an Artist.”

Well good. Neither am I.

Being an “artist” has nothing to do with your ability to draw and paint and certainly isn’t connected to your creativity.

I’ve never identified with the “artist” label. Maybe I’d call myself a cartoonist… but art has always been a means to an end for me – a form of storytelling and communication. The communication of an idea, emotion or experience is my primary motivation to create any image.

I think I’m turned off by the stereotypical labels of “artist”, those of my own construction and those that I encounter daily. Artist as flaky dreamer, out of touch with daily routine, esoteric, bohemian, following a muse… you get the stereotype that I’m laying on you man?

 

The professional artists that I meet, the ones that are working and making a living from their art defy so many of these “artist” stereotypes. They’re grounded, focused… I mean, they’re entrepreneurs running their own business, they better have their shit together. If you’re a dreamy airy-fairy floaty artist that wants to have a real art career – hire some professionals.

Seriously, I have no tolerance for artists who want to have an art career but don’t think they need a business plan… geezus.

But I digress…

My point is that the label “artist” has very little to do with our need and ability to be creative. We’re innately creative creatures and we NEED to be creative to feel healthy and whole.

When I say “creative” I’m talking the full gamut of creativity, not just visual art: writing, singing, dancing, crafting, gardening, cooking, woodworking, construction, decoration… building, making, expressing. We need to have some outlet for these desires or they become stagnant and depressive.

It happens to me when I go for too long without drawing, painting or writing. I become heavy and cluttered and angry. You can’t keep your creative expression on lock down too long before it turns against you and makes your whole life a grey mess of yick.

The NEED…

Being expressive is one of the first human needs after all bodily needs are met. Some argue that creativity is one of the last needs and comes through self-actualization. I believe it’s much more primary than that. Creativity and expression is linked to our desires to communicate with one another. It’s part of our identity as a member of the tribe and is a fundamental social need to tell and be told stories that share our collective experiences.

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The most telling example of this need to express self and share experiences, thoughts and ideas through visual art, are in the caves at Lascaux. 17 300 year old cave paintings telling stories of native animals and the hunt and possible spiritual beliefs and supernatural beings.

Lascaux Caves, France

This is Good

Everyone is creative. Find your particular mode of creativity. Maybe you’re creative at programming or accounting, maybe you’re expressive with trimming your hedges or clipping your dog. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you do it. Regularly. For your health and well being.

And if you want to draw and paint – don’t be intimidated or turned off by the “artist” label. Fuck it. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is how you feel when you create and express. The calm, meditative state. The feeling of emptying out and lightness after several hours of creating.

This is important. This is real. This is good.