Many people have a very fixed idea of what art is. What it is though, is simply human expression. Before we run we must learn to walk but we all dance before we do either. Before we write; we draw. Before we can speak; we sing. We make art because thats what humans do. Its one of the pillars that separates us from other living things and makes us distinct, unique.
Fine art is just that. Its fine-tuning your expression and many believe this also applies to a particular grouping of artistic expressions but I don't believe that art thrives when we silo ourselves like that or omit inclusion from our sacred-circles. Everyone has capacity to express themselves some just choose to do it by profession. Thats an artist. I have some friends that write the most devastatingly beautiful poetry and jawdropping short stories but they do not consider themselves artists because they use words instead of paint. Sure, a picture/painting is worth a 1000 words but our literaturists are ones who could write those thousand words down and that may even speak to us differently than through the more visual depiction. At the end of the day an artist is anyone who expresses themself in any medium with intention and from their unique perspective.
H.P. Lovecraft, an author who inspires my work through his dreamy and cyclopean mythos
I think we, as artists, are quick to judge other artists because its a title you fight for, largely an inner battle. We aren't taken as seriously as the "professionals" in society so we can become bitter, for sure. However, those same people need art in their life. It brings them joy or some kind of satisfaction they are lacking otherwise. That is our job, to bring meaning and feeling to what can be an incredibly monotonous life. Look inside the homes of the most business oriented people and you can find some of the purest art appreciators. To some degree, people outside of art appreciate it more than other artists. I mean, who else pays for these right? I jest, but simultaneously, do not.
All I'm saying is that being an artist isn't easy, not day. We are always looking to outdo ourselves, always thinking poorly about the work we've already made and even just finished. Its hard to find satisfaction as an artist because we get better every time we create something new. We find out a bit more about ourself, we get closer to our truer expression, and we fine-tune our skills a bit more. This is a bit maddening and has dissolved many artists' courage to continue an always untraveled path.
I've had many friends who have been so incredibly down on themselves and questioning whether or not they should or could even call themselves artists. I have this one quote I always share with them and I can never get through it without tearing up a bit because it speaks to me every time I read it. Its a piece of art, in words, by a person who created art with dance, Martha Graham. Its titled The Blessed Unrest and is simply a kind thing that Martha wrote to Agnes de Mille when de Mille was feeling exceptionally downtrodden about her own abilities, to which we know sounds impossible coming from the choreographer of Cleopatra and the person who was appointed by John F. Kennedy as a member of the National Advisory Committee on the Arts, the predecessor to the National Endowment for the Arts. Get this, the quote I'm about to share with you was made public by de Mille herself, in a book she worked on for 30 years about Martha Graham. Thats how much we can mean to each other as artists. Have each other's backs and be there to suppport your fellow artist. We may create but we are no gods and we need our friends just as much as the next person.
"Friendship" - Shelby McQuilkin
The Blessed Unrest
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open....No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."
As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille, p. 264