September 14, 2011

Am I an Artist?

I was recently talking with a non-photography friend about my work.  She asked me how I spend so much time taking pictures.  I struggled with an answer and was reluctant to describe myself as an artist. I talked about my subjects and images instead of my art and passion.  Why was I so self conscious about this title?  I am an artist, aren't I?

To get to the root of this issue, I had to step back and define an artist for myself.  Intellectually I believe an artist is a person who creatively conveys thoughts, feelings, and emotions through a selected medium.  Emotionally I uncovered my belief that an “artist” is someone who creates things that ineffectively convey their meaning and call it "art" so the rest of us will think we just don’t get it. 

This biased emotional definition is why I am afraid to label myself an artist.  Will people think my work is ineffective?  Am I conveying anything to anyone? Does it matter if people do not understand the motivation behind the image?  Do I just take pictures or do I create art?

What I learned through this conversation is that art, by any definition, is a creation compelled by something inside the artist.  It does not matter if viewers understand my meaning or even like my work.  The piece exists out of my need to create.  I am motivated by a desire to find grace in nature and I express this passion through photography. 

I heard Guy Tal describe himself as an artist who selected photography as his medium.  This single thought opened the door to my understanding that the images I create are my art and photography is the way I express myself.  So as it turns out, I am an artist, after all.