So You Call Yourself An Artist? Since When?

By Karen Middleton in Art Business Advice > Motivation

When did you first feel that you could legitimately call yourself an artist?

Sitting on the school floor at the age of 5, I was momentarily distracted from the drawing I had just started. Turning back to my drawing, I immediately saw that the girl sitting next to me had switched my drawing for hers—and my lovely round sun with carefully spaced rays had been replaced by one that looked a little squashed, with rather stubby rays.

Mmm, I was not impressed! But, being too shy to speak out, I continued with her piece that was now in front of me.

No, that wasn’t the moment I realised I was an artist. I just quietly thought that my sun was better.

Neither was it as a teen, even though by then I was drawing prolifically (and loving it). In fact, I remember drawing a cartoon character with such a humorous expression on its face that it caused my uncle to laugh out loud. In a good way. It was the desired reaction.

But that wasn’t when I realised I was a “real artist” either. After all, it was only a little later that I created a drawing of a harpist (versatile, even then) which received the same reaction of a laugh. And that was not the desired reaction.

And I could tell, looking at my picture, that the harpist’s arms were so long she could have threaded them through the strings and still been able to play.

So that definitely wasn’t the moment when I realised I was a real artist.

Nor was it in 4th Form, when a bunch of the popular girls at school stood around a piece of art I’d done, with gasps of shock and awe, saying “It’s like the 6th Formers would do!!” (I simply blushed a color that resembled Pantone 192, because I didn’t feel worthy of such praise.)

No, the first time I really justifiably felt like I could call myself an artist was just last week.

After years and years of creating, marketing, applying, practising, of blood, sweat, tears and much tearing up of paper, I sent some as yet unseen roughs to a local business colleague. Soon after I was informed that my work had reminded her colleague of the English illustrator, Arthur Rackham.

Quietly and calmly, but oh so humbly, I once again turned the color of Pantone 192.


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