What is art: the chronically low confidence of a crafter
For quite some time, crafters have been fed this idea that homemade is somehow inferior to more traditional art mediums. That accessible art wasn’t truly art. That something functional couldn’t also be artistic. And I believe it has created a plague of low self esteem and a prevalent sensation of Imposter Syndrome for many artists and crafters today.
Growing up in a creative world
Even growing up in a household where creativity was encouraged and celebrated, the world gave me a distinct impression that art was something decorative, something expensive, something that was unobtainable for most of the population. That is what made it special. That is what made it art.
I will be honest with you, there were many times when I wondered if it was just me. Was I letting my own doubt and low self esteem cloud the way I viewed my artistic endeavors? Was it all in my head, this feeling that the artwork I created wasn’t “real art.” That I was just a little kid making a big mess of things while The Real Artists™ were changing the world.
You are not alone.
The unfortunate reality is: this feeling of being “less than” is a sensation of judgement that plagues many artists and crafters throughout their entire artistic journey. And, honestly, it doesn’t isn’t just afflict new artists, folks who are still trying to learn their techniques and discover their place in the art world. It affects everyone. I know many extremely talented, experienced artists that still question their own art, self value, and place within the artistic community. What is this narrative that we have been fed, that accessible art, art made to be experienced and enjoyed by the masses, isn’t actually art?
“In art, what we want is the certainty that one spark of original genius shall not be extinguished.”– Mary Cassatt
So what is art?
We have been told that not everyone can create art, when in reality, the very nature of art is that anyone can create it, and anyone can find it beautiful. Art is subjective and transformative. Art is everything (and nothing). If art can be a red rectangle painted on a yellow background, why then can it not be a beautifully poured, cut and handcrafted bar of soap? Why can it not be an adorable cookie decorated in the perfect likeness of a beautiful bouquet? Why can it not be a crocheted hat that someone carefully crafted for hours, counting out each and every stitch? Why can it not be any piece of handiwork that someone has delicately poured their soul into?
The voices of doubt
It took me years of creating art before I even managed to call myself an artist in the quiet depths of my own mind, and still, the word catches in my throat even now. I have watched incredibly talented artists blossom into their work, and still, they confess to struggling with the validity of their own contributions. Why is that?
Perhaps it is the collective voices, both of our past and the extremely vocal online community, that have built an entire culture of skilled artists suffering from an internal monologue convincing them that their work will never, ever be good enough. I am throwing my voice into the vast unknown in hopes of creating a contrasting narrative to this constant chorus of self doubt. No one, not even JBobPop71 gets to determine whether your work is “real art.” And just because BobPop thinks a “kindergartener could have made that” doesn’t mean… anything. It actually means nothing at all.
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”– Andy Warhol
It begins and ends with you
When you find yourself struggling against the words to describe yourself or your work, I hope you will remember this post and that some random lady on the internet already believes wholeheartedly in you and your art. Because the truth is: if you create products by hand, born from your own heart and soul and creative mind, you are an artist. I understand that might be hard to hear, hard to fully absorb until you untangle years of being told otherwise. But maybe that emotional work can begin today.