Who’s an Artist?


“I never said I was a genius.”  Orson Welles  (from Brainyquote)

Is there a set of characteristics that must be possessed in order to be worthy of being called an artist?  Many people are hesitant to call themselves artists even though they are actively engaged in creating some form of art.  When asked, a person might say, “I’m a painter,” but not say, “I am an artist.”  Or there are writers who claim to be writers but not artists.  And how about the photographers?  When was the last time one of them said, “I am an artist?”  It may all be tied into the actual definition of the word, “artist.”

New research suggests a large number of people engaged in artistic endeavors as a career do not call themselves artists.  Tom Jacobs, writing for the Pacific Standard, examines the subject.  Jacobs outlines recent research done by Columbia and Rutgers University researchers revealing how many people doing artistic work don’t associate themselves with being an artist.  Jacobs concludes with a quote from the movie Bullets Over Broadway, in a statement from the actor, confusing being an artist with being a genius.  Is it possible this confusion is at home in the minds of people in general?

The confusion may originate in the actual dictionary definition of an artist.  Dictionary.com defines an artist as: (a) a person who produces works in any of the arts that are subject to aesthetic criteria and (b) as a person of exceptional skill.  Its no wonder people are confused. It could be that many artists don’t wish to appear to be claiming to be a genius.  The title of “artist” may be reserved for when the nebulous pinnacle is reached, whenever that may be.  Or to many, being called an “artist” may not be important, at all.

Perhaps the geniuses can sort this one out.  The rest are too busy making art

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