How long must one create before he can call himself an artist? I used to ask this question.
I knew one day I would wake up to the glorious music of golden trumpets resounding in rich harmony while my muse bestowed the ornate crown and infamous title of Artist upon me.
A little over-the-top, I know. But seriously, when is it okay for one to call himself an artist?
I love the way Seth Godin defines art –
“Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen.”
Isn’t that a beautiful way to say it?
“Art is a human act.”
Are you a human?
“Umm…yes,” you say.
Art “is intended to change the recipient for the better.”
Do you work or live your life in a way that inspires change in others?
You’re thinking, “Well, yes!”
Congratulations! You’re an artist!!
“Great! So…now what?”
Artists have three responsibilities.
1.) Artists highlight beautiful things in the world.
Life is a beautiful thing worth celebrating. Beauty is everywhere.
There’s beauty in the way the ruby-red sunset kisses the evening horizon – in the way a small child grips her mother’s hand while crossing the street – in the thunderous noise of an energetic crowd chanting the praises of their favorite team – in the kind unseen acts of those who help strangers.
Not everyone sees beauty. There’s far too much darkness in this world and sometimes it seems to snuff out the light. It’s the artist’s job to point to the beautiful things and be a light in the darkness. Light always overcomes darkness.
2.) Artists share their work.
As an artist, you’re creating an extraordinary body of work. This body of work may be tangible or intangible. If it affects the world in a positive way, then it’s your responsibility to share it with others.
“But I don’t sell products, paint, compose, sing, or dance,” you say.
Do you write? Start a blog.
(Notice I didn’t ask, can you write. Everybody writes. Ann Handley proclaims this fact in her brilliant book, Everybody Writes.)
Do you take decent photos? Post them for the world to see!
Do you cook? Cook something to share with a friend, or even better, a stranger.
There are countless ways you can share with others and affect positive change in the world.
3.) Artists teach.
The selfless act of imparting knowledge to others is every artist’s responsibility. Art is a gift. A beautiful gift that is to be shared and taught.
I’ve had some great teachers.
My high school history professor was one of the first people to selflessly pour into my life. I learned many things from him while scarfing greasy golden hash browns and washing them down with motor oil black coffee at Waffle House!
My college music professor gave me opportunities to travel and participate in bringing several of his compositions to market. He only requested that I teach and inspire others when the time came.
This application resonated with me more than anything else during my undergraduate years.
Let me tell you about my friend Emily. She is one of the most selfless people I know. She’s a social butterfly. You’ll find her in coffee shops and restaurants all around town. You might think she’s just shooting the breeze with anyone and everyone willing to talk with her. She has the unique gift of making those around her feel special.
People walk away from conversing with her holding their heads a little higher. They laugh. They cry. They’re moved to action. Challenged to look at the world in a different way. To view the world through the eyes of strangers.
My friend has charisma. She points to beautiful things. She shares with others. She teaches. She inspires. You see, she is an artist.
You’re an artist. Now make something beautiful!