Or rephrased as "what does it mean to be an artist?"
This question has come up in a few different podcasts I've been listening to, and the answers have been as diverse as the people interviewed. I can't help but ponder the question myself and here is what I've come up with. Please understand this is my take on "what an artist is" to me.
An artist is someone who uses their unique view to express themselves through what they create and are willing to share their work despite how vulnerable it may feel.
There are two parts that are important to me. The first is self-expression. I see a vast difference between creativity and skill. While, it takes skill to create, honing a skill does not necessarily require self-expression. For instance, I bake bread. I follow a recipe, mix the ingredients and end up with a loaf of bread. This is a skill I have. But an artisanal bread baker brings in their interpretation to the process. Layered on top of the skills it takes to bake a loaf of bread, the skilled baker has now become an artist.
But what if the baker never shared their bread, and no one else every got to taste the yeasty flavor? It takes the willingness to put your work out into the world for others to experience (and eat!). Whether it's design, writing, carpentry, baking, or ceramics...knowing what you create is being viewed and criticized, either good or bad, it's a vulnerable experience. This, to me, moves a creative person into the realm of an artist.
And I'll add, I don't think you need to always be making stuff to be an artist. Creating, researching, taking a break, and being part of an artistic community are all parts of being an artist. It's as much a state-of-mind as it is an action.
Just something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and now that I've written my thoughts down, I can move on to other things.
What is an artist to you?