What Makes an Artist?


I’ve been re-examining the convictions that made me become an artist. Being an artist is risky. It was hard to know if my craft would be accepted or appreciated. I wasn’t sure if I had the skill to pull it off, and I didn’t know if anyone would understand what I was trying to say through my work. Would it be something I could support myself with financially? The work called to me though; it seemed more important than what was being risked.

I hear that without struggle there can be no creativity [even in biology and evolution]. To continue one must think the content of one’s work is more important than its “success.” Sometimes it seems like art makes risk/struggle while risk and struggle function as a springboard for art. Perhaps my struggles make me into an artist, and my art makes me struggle.

What are some of the root struggles I’ve had?

  • I’ve struggled with a “learning disability” (that makes me a slow reader and a bad speller).
  • I’ve struggled with many sleepless nights, even now, sometimes waking in the night struggling over a religious, ethical, or political question. I can’t help but to often look into the cosmic abyss.
  • I’ve struggled for acceptance from my family, church and peers. Philosophical differences have often made for conflict – and a deep feeling of being an outsider, often feeling like an alien or a foreigner.
  • I’ve struggled with the pervasive materialism that surrounds me, to be a conscientious person of character. I’ve struggled to be a person concerned with the individuals around me and their virtue and goodness.

Often people think of inspirations, or a sense of compulsion, as the roots of what makes an artist, but for me, conflict and struggle [internal and external] seem to be the egg from which I hatch. Life is a struggle, but that does not mean it is bad. Each work I make may have some inspirations, or even logic, but the fact that I’m an artist seems mostly to derive from a desire to set things right, and to aim high rather than low.

This entry was posted in Art, Culture, Drawing, Philosophy, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

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