Last week we talked about whether “real” artists take workshops (they can, and do). Now let’s consider whether you have to make your living full-time as an artist in order to be considered one.
|Many of us hold down other jobs while we pursue our art. While it is the dream of many to work full-time as professional artists, it isn’t necessary to deserve the title of ‘artist.’ The Fruit Vendor, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.|
We’re all familiar with the phrase “starving artist,” which emphasizes that not all the great names that we recognize today were raking in the funds during their lifetime. Some were–and being born of the right families at the right time with the right connections was as helpful then as it is today–and some weren’t, not being properly “discovered” until they were dead.
And today there are good and bad artists out there making it full-time, and just as many or more good and bad artists working a job during the day and painting or drawing at night. (One has a difficult time thinking of Monet remarking to Manet, “I’m staying with the office part-time because I really need the health insurance benefits,” and yet, that is an integral concern for 21st century artists.)
A large gallery we worked with mentioned that most of their artists, many of them prolific and popular, were all sorts of things on the side–plumbers, writers, teachers, construction workers. “I don’t think we have a single artist on our roster who doesn’t work at something else on the side,” the gallery director mused.
So does this mean that she isn’t running a real gallery because it isn’t filled with work by real artists? Hardly. How much money you make each year, the size of your studio, whether or not you wear a smock or beret–these do not determine whether or not you are an artist.
Creating, striving, challenging yourself, painting, drawing, sculpting, learning, progressing forward–these are what determine whether or not you are an artist.