Aug 9, 2013

Quit Calling Me An Artist

Everybody, please:  Quit calling me an artist.

Nothing I've ever done makes me any more an artist than you are.  Not even playing music.  Not even being skinny.

Rather, I believe that everybody is an artist. 

I'll say that again:  Everybody is an artist.

So what exactly is art?  I take my definition from guitarist Frank Zappa: "Art is creating something from nothing, and selling it."

Part 1: Creating something from nothing...

A painting, a song, a service, an invention, a job well done.  These are all concrete things and experiences that can be brought into existence that did not exist prior to a human being (artist) making it so.

Part 2: ...and selling it...

This part is crucial.  It MUST be sold, published, shared, offered for hire, or otherwise made public in order to make its creator vulnerable.  Without this step, it is nothing more than a hobby.

I would add a third component to Zappa's definition.

Part 3: ...because it gives you joy.

Creating art is hard work.  And if your art doesn't happen to be an in-demand product or service, it might be a total bust financially.  So it doesn't make much sense to create something you don't care about.

A plumber is an artist, provided she offers an honest service for a respectable price, and gets joy from doing it.  A secretary is an artist, provided he finds joy in welcoming people into the building that represents an organization he cares about.  A contractor is an artist, provided she completes projects in a timely matter, within an honest bid, and, above all, for the sense of joy it gives her.

Of course, the common thread in all of these examples is the word "joy".  As I've said before, your joy makes the world a better place.  And that better place didn't exist prior to you making it.

So please, stop calling me an artist.  And start calling yourself one.


Appendix A
Worship leaders: Please STOP calling yourselves artists.  It is condescending to those in your congregation.   Your job is to help others discover their art, not point out your own.

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