When is an Artist an Artist?

As I was working today, a friend and collector stopped by my office.  I was excited to show her a publication that had written an article about me and my artwork in which one of the pieces she and her partner had purchased was featured.  As we were discussing this, she asked me a question that I have since been unable to get off my mind………”When does an artist know they have “made” it? After thinking for a few seconds, I blurted out, “when they can pay their bills with the sale of their work”.  That seemed rational enough at the time; however, since then I have realized that it is so much more. Don’t get me wrong, every artist that I know loves to get paid for what they do. I just wasn’t sure that this is a true definition of making it.

I started wondering and asking myself questions about what it means to me to have “made” it.  Is it winning awards for my artwork?  Seeing my name in a publication?  Being accepted into the next big show or gallery?  What does “making” it mean to me?  Everyone, whether they are an artist or a fireman, must ask themselves this question.  Without knowing where we are going how are we ever going to know when we have arrived?  Although, the answer will be different for everyone, it’s incredibly important to know the truth about one’s intentions, motivations, aspirations and vision.

For me, it’s knowing that there is another piece inside just waiting to be born.  It’s the heightened sense of of being “out of body” when I’m working on a piece, watching it come to fruition.  It’s watching people connect with my work.  It’s constantly looking for the next vision or piece of inspiration that can come in an instant in the oddest of places.  It’s waking up, going to sleep and dreaming about my art.  It’s the possibility of the next piece, the next show, the next road to beauty.  It’s knowing that tomorrow, when I wake up, I have another opportunity to create.

If I am emanating from a place of authenticity, creating sheerly for the joy of creating, well, that’s when I know I have arrived.



6 comments on “When is an Artist an Artist?

  1. Sandi Li says:

    “Making it”, for me, is knowing you are using your gifts and your talents in ways that make this world a better place. It is finding that thing that you do best and doing it. It is sharing with others, in a loving and compassionate way, what makes you special. It is fulfilling our place in the world, regardless of how big or how smal,l knowing we are making a difference just from having been here.
    Here’s to “making it”, my friend!

  2. scott sterling says:

    As a new artist (as an amateur luthier, my work is my artistic expression…) I am 100% on board with your description of making it. I would also say you have made it when the work you produce closely matches that in your mind’s eye, ear, etc – in other words, that which came from your hands was the same as that which you felt in your soul. This means you have developed the ability to fully express yourself artistically, and I beleive it requires a level of excellence at your craft (as “scored” by you, the artist, however – not by others) that can only come with time and experience. I hope to someday get to that point – I still have a ways to go…

  3. Gary says:

    Its a tricky question isn’t it. Apparently Van Gogh sold little while alive, so cash flow-wise didn’t make it at all in his lifetime. Awards are good, but it seems sometimes they’re there to raise the profile of those ‘giving it’. The same goes for a Gallery, if they take a cut of your sales then they need you too. Publications have paper to fill, Some artists, musicians, thespians and creative types have all usually, at some point done it for money. Clearly, you are talented AND passionate about your work, both current and even in the future tense, just waiting for inspirational ideas. So…If an Artist can simply be the only one they need to please, then surely they’ve made it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s