Blog / 2015 / 7 Reasons to Try Being an Artist Even If You Don’t Think You’re a Real Artist

February 26, 2015

Before I get into the reasons, I want to make something clear: I speak from experience on this topic. It’s not that I don’t feel like a real painter—I totally do!—but that I used to think I’d be a performer.

Starting when I was 12, I had a vague idea that I was going to be a theater artist. I did drama in high school and a bit in college, I ended up going to mime school in Paris in my early 20s, and I did a bit of community theater once I was out of school. By the time I was 24 though, I had retired from the stage. Still, I’m glad I did perform as much as I did, and I suppose it’s possible I might unretire some day, because doing an art even though you don’t think you’ll ever do it full time is a very good thing for all these reasons:

  1. When you make art instead of just looking at it, you understand it in a new way and you come to appreciate the skill more fully.
  2. At that point, you’re not just a fan who looks in from the outside, you are an amateur in the original sense of that word. You are a lover of the art and it’s a good to be a lover of many things in life.

  3. Trying to be an artist helps you to appreciate the tenacity it takes to market yourself successfully as an artist.
  4. This might lead you to support the efforts of artists in your life by promoting their art or buying it. Artists and all of art-kind need this nurturing. Indeed, it fosters a thriving and diverse culture.

  5. The love you feel for an art is contagious.
  6. You’re likely to talk about the art you’ve done, and your better understanding of it will most likely kindle passion in others as well, meaning that art will take over the world in best way possible.

  7. Like all passions, art comes with a community.
  8. Even if you’re never a professional, you’ll still connect with others through your love of art.

  9. It’s something you can always return to.
  10. Even though “artist” may not be your primary way of identifying yourself, the time you spent making art makes that art a part of who you are. It’s something that can never be taken away from you and something that you can do again when you need to.

  11. Art is expression and hopefully even communication, so doing it helps you find your voice.
  12. We all need practice to get better at speaking up for ourselves and what we believe in. Art-making helps you learn to do that, forcing you to develop a skill that’s useful at work whether you’re a bank teller or a storyteller.

  13. You learn that loving what you do for a living matters.
  14. Imagine if every single person had job satisfaction, either because we loved the thing we were doing or because the job fulfilled us in some other way. That world would be a beautiful place! We can get there by teaching people that caring about what you do matters, and there’s no better teacher than art-making.

photo by Siouxsie Suarez
photo by Siouxsie Suarez, rehearsal for defunkt theatre’s A Murder of Crows in 2004

I quit trying to do theater mainly because it’s an art that requires you to interact with other people all the time. It’s very social and I’m not quite at that level. What’s more, though I miss the way your body is your instrument when you’re a performer, I think I do better emotionally when my art is slightly more removed from me, as it is with painting. Or anyway, this is what I tell myself.

In other words, as is clear from the paragraph above, there are a million different reasons to not do an art if you don’t think you’re the real thing, but there are also at least seven reasons why you should.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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