I do not think I am an artist. I do not know what I am. To use the label of an “artist” rather than a writer or a storyteller feels somehow pretentious. I respect artists so much that putting myself in that category feels like an impossible task. Yet how does a person know if they are an artist compared to just a worker?
Here is my definition: an artist must be someone who is willing to go through very painful feelings and emotions in order to portray something that is true. An artist cannot be concerned about the economical concerns of their art, but rather the emotional concerns. Must an artist explore only the damaged bits of their soul? No, not necessarily. However, someone who does not want to do that feels a little too comfortable. Art is rarely comfortable to create or view. However, something about it is informative about the way that a person lives. The only way to get to this point is to have the artist create something that feels true to them.
It is surprising how hard it is to be honest, but why is this? Why is honesty so scary? I suppose one reason is that it requires so much to be truthful. There is no hiding when you are baring everything you have. While society seems to talk about what they had for breakfast and which TV shows they are watching, it is still harder to talk about complex problems that do not have solutions. It seems that talking about problems are still hard because it exposes the limitations of a person. People do not want to admit to others, and especially to themselves, that they can only do so much.
Despite these uncomfortable periods, an artist who can convey something about themselves and their community, family, or world around them can really help people going through similar issues feel less alone. This is perhaps the greatest achievement that an artist can make. Yet should an artist go into their artistry with the intention of changing people and making the world a far grander place? If they do, how do they avoid becoming too preachy or forcing their message with dead, one-dimensional views? Many people will listen to messages, but only if these people do not feel that they are listening to a message. So where is the balance between being a supportive activist and being this “true” artist? Is there such a thing?
Reader, what do you think?