Question – “What do you do?”
“Well, I’m an artist.”
Next question – “Oh, cool – what do you paint?”
Why does that “artist” description automatically conjure up someone who paints paintings? If you look up images for the term “artist” on Google, that’s what you’ll see, rows of people at easels painting paintings. (Hi, Bob Ross ♥)
If this sounds familiar to you, it’s no wonder we have a problem calling ourselves “Artists.” That term doesn’t describe what we do because it has so many associations and preconceptions.
But what if I answered, instead, “Well, I”m an Artmaker.” The next question would be, “What kind of art do you MAKE?”
This difference is HUGE!
Now I can answer, “Hmm – that’s tricky, but basically I work with my hands in my studio on all kinds of artwork that connects us.” Then I can click a few photos on my phone that I have ready to go. And hopefully, a conversation starts. Maybe like this —
“I make sometimes paintings, but they are not traditional paintings . . .still, people seem to like them.” (click)
“I do assemblage work” (click)
I work in beeswax wax and paint for all kinds of different projects and objects: (click)
“Sometimes work with photographs and fiber” – (click)
And so on – not too many photos (if you get that far) – just four or five.
Or if you (like I) use MOO business cards that let you have as many as 50 different images, you can show several of those, and hopefully, your inquirer will take a card, any card. Ask, “What’s your favorite?”
The point is, we are ARTMAKERS. From the introduction to Melanie Falick’s wonderful book, Making a Life, “We make art to connect with others. To express ideas and emotions, feel competent, create something tangible and long-lasting. And to feed the soul.”
What do YOU do?? If you find yourself mumbling that you are “an, er, artist” (and thinking “am I a real artist, or what — why do I call my self that, what does it mean anyway, urg, it sounds so pretentious, I don’t even have a true studio,etc. etc., rethink that.
Tell them with a happy smile that you are an Artmaker. It’s more than semantics. It’s how and why you work to make beautiful things. Feel the truth of that through your heart and soul right down to your toes. Then get ready for an interesting conversation!