Many people ask: What is art? When I was studying art we spoke about high art and low art. I think it was a highbrow or snobbish way of thinking and people believed that only high art mattered. Low art included crafters and hobbyists. Even nowadays there are people who talk about insider art and outsider art but more and more, with the postmodern thinking, there emerges a better acceptance of every type of art having a place, just as each individual has a place in society. If you have lived half your life already you might have been influenced more by exclusive thinking and terminology in all spheres of life: race, gender, class, religion, knowledge etc. Maybe you have thought to measure an artist’s success with the amounts of money earned or how popular or famous they are. Artists should not be measured against each other. We are all unique but the debate continues. There will be many different opinions on this matter.
There are many different types of artists.
When I joined Ilhaam Behardien’s Artist’s identity studio here in Cape Town in 2017 I learnt about an idea based on Harold Pearse’s thinking which has helped me greatly and spurred me on to do my own thinking. He said that there are (loosely speaking) three different types of artists: (1) the communicator who expresses themselves and their inner person through their art; (2) the producer who enjoys the process of producing art and the repetitive nature of reproducing; (3) the socially conscious artist that expresses the social issues at hand and is motivated by the world around them. They often have a need to express (or protests) about what they observe.
I now feel that it is a narrow description and feel that there are many more types of artists and overlapping of functions so it is a shame to box people. For instance there are artists of many different descriptions who have a drive to “make art” like we also have to sleep, breathe or eat to survive. They might be communicators or producers or the socially conscious artist but their initial motivation is that they cannot live without it. They cannot function without it, whether it is making music, dancing, writing or visual art. There are artists who find their truths and secret desires by diving deep within who don’t have the desire to express it with others because it is a private process. It feels very therapeutic or cathartic and isn’t meant for others. On the other end of the spectrum there are artists who need to be seen because they have a message to convey or they are created to be seen. There is commercial art, design, product making verses the pure being-ness of creativity. As world culture changes its views on art and the artist, there is more and more scope for you and me with the artistic temperament. And we can have multiple functions and motivations. It certainly is a very interesting topic to consider.
We can all call ourselves artists if we identify as one.
We can all call ourselves artists, even if you feel inferior. Sometimes we don’t even think of identifying as an artist or creative. In the distant past in caveman times there was rock art which might have been done for ritual, then came the religious art and then over time art diversified and diversified so you should not feel ashamed or an imposter calling yourself by your artist’s trade: writer, singer, artists, sculptor, crafter etc etc.
What often has not been emphasized enough, in the past, to those who are interested in art is that we can all be artists and creators in our own world. It is not about making money. It is not about being clever or highly polished at images. It is about you doing you; you doing your art for you, or for others, or for whatever calls you. Just do it without inhibition and without question. To use a phrase: follow your bliss, let it lead you. The artistic spirit is very vulnerable and suffers greatly from low self-esteem. It does not need further beating down from you. Be inquisitive and full of wonder. Ask: where is it leading me? Don’t force it to bend to you preconceived ideas, just follow.
How that seed of creativity grows and what it grows into is as diverse as each of our personalities. One thing I know is you need to feed and water it just like a plant otherwise it will lie dormant for a long time waiting for your tender care.
“If you want to grow, only compare yourself to yourself”– Yanina Gomez.
What is the driving force behind your creativity?
I am the communicator. I look for ways to express, either just for myself or for others. As I have mentioned before I want to express what I observe in life, what I love, and mostly what I think about and feel. So it’s about my life and yours; growth, change; and expressing light and love. Through my art I want to connect with others to inspire, encourage, motivate, and stir up deep reflective thought. Most importantly I want to collaborate or co-create with others and the Creator.
Tell me what your views are on being an artists or what you think art is. I would love to hear from you.
Have a wonderful weekend,