On Joseph Beuys: Everyone is an artist

Varian Viciss
Art Meanderings for Life
2 min readOct 27, 2015


Joseph Beuys

It’s probably the most famous quote by the German artist Joseph Beuys:
“Everyone is an artist.”

And it’s probably also the most misunderstood. Because what Beuys did not mean is that everyone is an artist in the usual and narrow sense of the word, like a painter or a sculptor.
For Beuys “artist” was the word to describe the essence of what it means to be a human being: The deep need and fundamental ability to create and be creative.
In this sense, “everyone is an artist” means that everyone can and needs to be creative — so you can be an “artistic” mother, an “artistic” manager, an “artistic” bus driver, even an “artistic” politician. It doesn’t matter what your means of expression are — being an artist means being creative in whatever way is available for and feels natural to you.

In recent years, the business and marketing guru Seth Godin has used the terms “artist” and “art” in a similar way:
He speaks of a business as “art” and of leadership as a way of being an “artist”, of giving the gift of your unique talents in your unmistakable way, of creating your ideas in your own particular way, becoming irreplaceable in the process.

So how are YOU an artist? And what is YOUR art?