Being an Artist vs. Just Making Art

Together with Caylee Grey and guests, we’ll explore what it REALLY means to be an artist. Practically. Warts and all. So that you can be an artist, today, now, even if you work a day job, have a million and one commitments and own a cat that likes sitting on your art.

No more excuses. Okay? Okay.

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I believe that anyone can make art but not everyone can be an artist.

I know that the common narrative is that everyone can be an artist, however, I disagree with that. Well. Slightly.

Let me explain…

For some, capital A Artist is a stifling term. It renders them fearful, rather than liberated.

We’ve been taught our whole lives that a capital A Artist lives in an attic, only stops painting to pee, has the actual beauty of the gods running through his veins, and that beauty comes out through a paintbrush.

For others, the title of Artist is freedom, it gives permission to splash paint on a canvas and wear a paint-soaked shirt or keep tiny clusters of paper all around the house.

You could be either, and your opinion on it will probably change over time.

I’m all about whatever it takes to actually create. I like the idea that art can fit into your life right now, exactly as it is. You don’t have to change any of your beliefs in order to create. You don’t have to change your heart and soul to fit a mold or stereotype, in fact, please don’t because THAT is the secret sauce to creating authentic things. Please KEEP all opinions and children and jobs, and figure out how you can create within those. THAT is where you’ll find magic. Absolute mess, yes, but also magic.

My definition of artist and the one we follow at Get Messy is this: if you make art, you’re an artist. But, if not thinking of yourself as an artist actually leads to you making art, well hell, I support that.

If that title adds weight, rather than removes it. Screw the title.

This podcast episode is for you. Or for the you who may have previously called yourself an artist but is going through a dry spell.

If calling yourself an artist feels like too much, make a bit of art in your lunch break and call yourself someone who made art in their lunch break.

Call yourself whatever you’d like in order to make art.

From Art + Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland,
While you may feel you’re just pretending that you’re an artist, there’s no way to pretend you’re making art.

And if you’re wondering if what you just made “counts” as art, it does. Again, you don’t have to call it art if that scares you too much. Feel free to call it “something” or “a collage” or be as literal as you need to.

Art is an ongoing definition. It’s not really defined and so you have to do that for yourself.

Our homeboys David and Ted compared art to chess – imagine if every time you sat down to play you’d need to define it. You’d never be able to play without a whole batch of anxiety resting on your shoulders.

Why would you do that to your art? Allow yourself to create without needing to define the work or yourself.

Want to know how to make your best art? One of the biggest struggles of beginner artists is making art that doesn’t fit the idea in their head or

Simply, they are creating art that they don’t feel is “good”. It’s paralysing.
I’m over that.
Basically, anything that paralyses you in art? Leave it at the door. It has no place here. You have to make the shitty art. Even Picasso made shitty art. Hell. He’s a documented shitty person so at least you have one way that you’re better than freaking Picasso.

When we have an idea for art we want to make, that idea is perfect and beautiful, and untouched.
It’s when we begin that we add our own imperfections. We slowly ruin the original idea, bit by bit.

The paradox of art is that it is in this ruining that things are made beautiful.

Don’t believe me? We’ll go back to David and Ted.

To demand perfection is to deny your ordinary (and universal) humanity, as though you would be better off without it. Yet this humanity is the ultimate source of your work; your perfectionism denies you the very thing you need to get your work done. Getting on with your work requires a recognition that perfection itself is a flawed concept.

Stop looking for perfection. It’s boring as hell.

Literally, all you need to make the art in your heart is yourself, and to not quit. It’s simple but it’s not easy.

You make imperfect art. You make more imperfect art. And then more. The bridges between each are made out of the imperfections.

The messy middle is not one way to create, it’s THE WAY.

You learn to accept yourself (super hard and a lifetime practice, BUT a small compensation is that it is a beautiful practice).
And you learn to follow your own voice.

Art and Fear says,
Talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.

You learn how to make your work by making your work, and a great many of the pieces you make along the way will never stand out as finished art. The best you can do is make art you care about – and lots of it.

So guess what?
You have a heart.
You have perseverance within you.
And you can do hard things.

Now go make art.

Caylee Grey

Caylee Grey is the host of Get Messy and a South African perfectionist currently pursuing imperfection.

Caylee Grey, host of Get Messy

The Get Messy Podcast

I’m Caylee Grey. Creator of Get Messy, official fairy freaking artmother and your pro excuse-squashing ninja.

In the Get Messy podcast I’ll be chatting to a selection of amazing, real-life humans just like you are who are dealing with the very same barriers … but overcoming them to create their art.

Together, we’ll explore what it REALLY means to be an artist. Practically. Warts and all. So that you can be an artist, today, now, even if you work a day job, have a million and one commitments and own a cat that likes sitting on your art.

No more excuses. Okay? Okay.