Apparently, I Am Not An Artist

Today I want to talk about something that recently came up in one of my videos. Someone commented on the video and questioned whether I could really call myself an artist. It’s a topic that I want to explore in this podcast, but I promise I’ll try not to make it into a rant.

In the video, I talked about calling yourself an artist and how no one can tell you you’re not an artist. The definition of an artist is a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby. It can also refer to someone really good at something. However, the commenter, Augustine Hawkins, had a different view. He believed that being an artist was not a description but an accolade bestowed by others.

According to him, everyone is calling themselves an artist these days when they are just painters or sculptors, and it’s arrogance to label oneself as an artist and claim more importance than deserved. He quoted Charles Eames, who also believed that being an artist meant that someone else had to bestow you with the title.

Apparently, I Am Not An Artist – Rafi Perez Doing Art Stuff

Now, I understand where Hawkins and Eames are coming from. There was a time when the label of the artist was looked down upon, and it was only given to those who had made a name for themselves or had accolades. But times have changed, and the definition of artist has evolved. Things are not as black and white as they were in the 50s. People back then were all about accolades. Today, being an artist is a personal journey, and it’s up to the individual to decide whether they want to call themselves an artist or not.

The truth is, it has always been that way, but the mindset was different back then. Vangogh has no accolades, nor does Leonardo da Vinci, yet they are considered artists. The dictionary says this:

a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.
a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.
a person skilled at a particular task or occupation.

Apparently, I Am Not An Artist – Rafi Perez Doing Art Stuff

I have always had a problem jumping through hoops and waiting for people to bestow me with the title. If you create art of any type, you are an artist, whether you’re selling it or not. It’s a personal journey, and no one can tell you whether you’re an artist or not.

A few years ago, I got a comment on the same video, which said that I couldn’t call myself an artist because it was like calling myself a doctor. But being a doctor is an educational degree you get in school, and you need medical training. In fact, you can have a doctorate in the arts and be a doctor.

Hawkins responded to me, saying that as someone who actually is an artist, he has awards, exhibitions, and teaching under his belt, this subject mattered to him, and he cared about the title. This is where it got scary, he assumed I had none of those things, and because of that he attacked my value as an artist. The truth is, I have much more than the three parameters he listed, but I was an artist before I received any of those accolades. I think that his logic is flawed. Charles Eames was posing his opinion in the documentary, not a fact. Just because Hawkins cares about the title doesn’t mean that everyone has to care about it in that way too.

Apparently, I Am Not An Artist – Rafi Perez Doing Art Stuff

The label of artist is a personal choice, and it’s up to the individual to decide whether they want to claim it or not. It’s not about arrogance or claiming more importance than deserved. It’s about recognizing that you are compelled to express yourself through art.

The journey of an artist is not about creating something that’s universally acclaimed or that sells for millions of dollars. It’s about the creative process itself, and the way that it enriches your life and the lives of others. It’s about expressing yourself in a unique way, and sharing that expression with the world.

Artists come in all shapes and sizes, and they create all kinds of things. Some artists paint or sculpt, while others write poetry or compose music. Some artists create films or design buildings, while others make jewelry or weave tapestries. Whatever form your art takes, the important thing is that you’re expressing yourself in a way that’s true to who you are.

So, if you’re struggling with your art, if you’re feeling insecure or unsure of yourself, remember that these are all part of the creative process. And if you keep pushing through those doubts and insecurities, if you keep putting your work out there and sharing it with the world, then you truly deserve the title of artist.


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  1. This is weird in at least 3 ways.
    1. I can’t seem to find said commenters work online.
    2. Eames was attempting humility in that clip. (Genuine or feigned I don’t know.)
    3. If I was to compare Rafi and Klee to another couple from history, guess who would be top of the list!

    1. It’s rare for someone to ‘get to’ or irritate Rafi. More proof he is human and not an alien after all.

  2. I guess Emily Dickinson, Melville Van Gogh , Edgar Allen Poe and many others were not considered to be artists because they could not sell or publish their work. In their hearts they knew they had to do this and thank goodness they did. Just because the world does not recognize artists does not stop the creative impulse everyone is born with. I think creativity is something everyone nature, animals and plants are born with.

  3. Hmmm, this sounds like insecurity and elitest baloney to me. However, there is an older generation stuck on this mentality. My father is one of them.
    I did not feel confident in calling myself an artist until I finally sold some work. Though think that was my hangup. The word artist should never be exclusive. Art is raw creativity manifested. I would rather be called a bad artist then not one at all.

    1. I was fortunate. My father called me an artist from the moment I understood what the word meant. He was always proud of me. He attended my painting demos at arts organizations, libraries and anywhere else I might be. He helped me find places to do my quick portraits. When his male friends said sending me to art school was a waste of money, he would shut them down. He would model for me whenever I asked. He was a feminist before the word was coined. My heart broke when he died in an auto accident three days after my 23rd birthday. I still miss him every day. He was born in 1914.

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