The Term Artist Is Too General
Practicing and Demonstrating Art Constitutes an Artist?
I've always followed the notion that an artist is someone that creates. So in my mind it didn't matter whether you were a great artist or a horrible artist—if you were creating something I would see you as an artist. I had a terribly narrow view of the world. Everything was black and white. Even considering someone to be a great artist or a horrible artist is incredibly subjective. I believed that the artist term was thrown around indiscriminately. The lines get blurred sometimes when I discovered certain types of artists. I had a skewed vision of what was creating and therefore who I considered an artist was different.
Take dance for example. If a group of dancers is taught choreography, are they considered artists? Some dancers in choreography have no input into the choreography that they are performing and at times are even told how to perform the movement in case they didn't follow a certain vision. Back in the day, I couldn't comprehend how this individual could be considered an artist. By definition, they were artists because they are performing the act of the art. I was confused because if I went by this mentality, actors would not be considered artists as they are simply reciting lines directed by an individual.
Then we have inkers and colourers that follow the art of another artist. I think these individuals have more artistic freedom than the choreographers but essentially the ultimate vision of the art was not conceptually theirs. Again by definition, they get the title of an artist but back in the day, I thought that the word artist was being thrown around pretty loosely. Like choreography, dancing, and acting, there is a vision and a foundation but there is still leeway to create. Two of the same images can be inked in wildly different ways and still produce the same concept in the end. I couldn't see this in the past. I thought the term lost prestige as we keep giving it to anyone participating in an art. What kind of prestige should we give artists anyway, though?
Martial artists can be considered artists when they practice the art of one-on-one combat. I see how they make split decisions right away and come up with new ideas on the spot. Then there are the individuals who know the moves and recite them to get to the next level. I kind of relate it to freestyle dancing. In freestyle dancing we're taught certain moves and then we follow the moves exactly. If we don't change the moves, are we not just regurgitating what someone has taught us in the past? How are we artists when we don't add anything new?
I had this mentality for a long time. Until it dawned on me that for all of these arts there are set moves that we can follow. You don't have to follow these moves but they help in the foundation of your art. They become the nouns, verbs, and adjectives to your art. The more you learn, the more of a vocabulary that you will have. Once you've mastered the words, poetry will come out. The struggle comes from mastering your tools before making your art. Once you've mastered the tools to feel artistic freedom to do whatever comes to mind then you truly will feel accomplishment as an artist.
There's nothing wrong with choreography, coloring, inking, etc. They will become the backbone and foundation of the artist. If the artist continues to pursue their art in that direction, they will find new ways to express themselves as they master their tools. It was hard for me to change my mode of thought but eventually it did. I'm glad I think differently so I can enjoy art and not dwell in little things that don't matter.