Are you an Artist?

The answer is probably “yes”

It occurred to me the other day, that I’ve been blogging for over a year about creative writing and the creative process, and I have never stopped to really define Art or and Artist.

The best definition I’ve come across is the one that Seth Godin gives in his book “Linchpin”, which is a very broad definition, and this is my paraphrase:

Art is something that requires some skill and craft to do well, but it is made special by the Artist, who makes it special and unique by bringing his/her whole self into the performance of the Art.

So in other words, just about anything can be Art, as long as you bring some skill and soul into doing it. That means that Art is a whole lot more than writing, drawing, painting, acting, and the other ‘fine’ arts, but also includes things like waiting tables, and rehab therapy, and driving a taxi and many, many other things we don’t traditionally think of as Art.

But no matter what Art we’re talking about, it isn’t Art until there is skill and there is soul.

So if you want to be a writer, a true artist of a writer, you need to pursue increasing skill, but you also need to bring your whole self to the writing; let your readers see from your viewpoint, through your eyes. Let them see you reflected in your work.

If you don’t pursue always increasing your skill, then you are an amateur and a dilettante, not a real artist, you’re not taking your art seriously.

If you don’t bring your whole self to the writing, and let yourself be reflected in your work, then you are a hack. A highly skilled hack, perhaps, but a hack nevertheless.

And the same is true no matter what your Art. Bring the skill, bring yourself. You’re an artist.

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