While selling work at a recent art show, a young man approached my table, wide-eyed as he inspected everything, and asked, “How and when did you become an artist?” I found myself completely at a loss for words. I felt like a fool, just standing there, thinking about how to answer that question. The man eventually left me there to think and it haunted me for the longest time.
When did I become an artist? I’ve been one for as long as I can remember, but how did I actually become one? Then it hit me: it didn’t happen in a particular moment, I was simply born an artist. Like Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.”
This made me think. There are over seven billion people in the world, and inside each of them is an artist. That’s seven billion artists out there. When people think about artists, they may think of painters or sculptors, but art is much more than that. Art is any kind of self expression through various mediums: paint, music, dance, voice, film, literature, and so much more. Art doesn’t have to be a tangible thing that you hold and admire. Art is about stirring emotions, whether it be in yourself or others.
I thought of those seven billion artists and what they may be creating, whether tangible or not. Do they even realize they’re creating art? Would they define themselves as artists?
It’s possible they’re completely unaware, or disbelieving. By day we’re nurses, receptionists, librarians, mechanics, mothers, students, fathers, struggling dreamers. But, in our free time, we are creators – in whatever form of expression it takes. So many of us walk around saying “I can’t draw, I can’t dance, I’m not creative, I’m not an artist.” But you ARE – every time you bake a cake, play make-believe with your kids, or rearrange your furniture, you’re producing art in our own unique way. If we could change our personal definitions of art, we’d realize the truth: we are each artists, creating beauty for the world, and we must embrace, celebrate, and cherish this blessing.
I continue to think about that man, and realize now that he may have asked that question because he doesn’t see himself as an artist. So wide-eyed when he spoke to me, he needs to open those same eyes and look inside himself, to discover his inner artist. Maybe he made someone laugh that morning. That’s art.
Now that I have a chance to hear from some of the seven billion artists out there (in other words, each and every one of you), I have to ask: What kind of artist are you?