Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are you an artist?

Last week a customer asked me if I was an artist....
I immediately let her know I was not trained in art (meaning I did not study it in school), rather, my training is in psychology. She looked at me oddly and I thought about it some more. We both dropped it. Her question and confusion at my response have bounced around in my brain ever since. Am I an artist? I am a crafter, this I do know. I can sell my things at a craft fair, I have learned many of the skills of my craft. But, my jewelry has definitely evolved. When I began stringing beads, I immediately became a crafter. Now, am I more than that?

When I think of other jewelry makers I know, I can easily identify the artists amongst that group--why is it so hard to self-identify? I used to think that if and when I started making my own pendants and beads, I would classify myself as an artist. However, I manipulate my metal pendants, using paints and other mediums--does that count? Seeing as how my 5 year-olds can do the same, I have decided, no. When I learn to make clay pendants or glass beads, will I cross over then?! Or, will I think that I have merely acquired another skill, one that anyone else could learn and master. In my metal-smith class, I drew a design and then sawed out the design on a pendant. Am I now an artist? But, it was just a simple drawing.... Maybe the dilemna is that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe I don't truly believe that I can claim my jewelry as art--only as craft. Is art a skill or an ability--a magical ability that certain beings are gifted with?! And yet even those magical abilities get better with practice....

I have also had several people comment lately that I should take more pride in my jewelry--don't get me wrong, I really do like what I make. I am proud of each skill I have learned and mastered, and it brings me great joy to figure out how to manipulate something and make it work in a piece. This hobby of mine is so incredibly fulfilling. I can look at my early pieces and truly see and value my growth curve. However, it is just jewelry, and many possess the same skills. Bottom line is, I like what I make, and it makes me happy. If it makes you happy too, BONUS!

I still don't know how to answer the question, "are you an artist." Maybe thinking, "not yet" is what pushes me to learn and grow more.

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