I never thought I’d say it straight out like that.
I’ve called myself a crafter, a maker, a hobbyist. I've called my art “therapy.” It was a thing I could do to de-stress, or to make a thoughtful gift for a friend, or whatever. Anything but ART. My friends are real artists. They have MFAs and followings and rich histories. They mentor me and I’m proud of them and their accomplishments. I can instantly recognize their work in a crowd. That’s personal style. I don’t have that, yet. I just make things, and sometimes those things are cool. Sure, my artist friends say encouraging things about my stuff, but that's what friends do, right?
Last year, something happened that upended my life. I won't get into it, but it was big, and it made me realize that the real difference between me and my successful friends was this: I wasn’t putting myself out there. I had been protecting myself, and my art, from the world because of fear and insecurity.
A few months ago, on a whim, I sent some images of recently completed color studies to a gallery. They were having an abstract show, so I figured why not? A good friend had been nagging me for years to try something there, and I always found excuses. I sent them slides of five paintings. They accepted three. Then they asked me to submit for their next group show, and the one after that. Then I entered a contest with Higgins and won. My point is TRY. Anything and everything.
So, now I’m a part of the Higgins Inktober Team. Which is amazing! I have a purpose, direction, and deadlines, all those things that, maybe not every artist need, but I needed them to be productive. I’ve escaped the comparison trap. I don't feel eccentric or wasteful when I make things now. I feel motivated. I see growth. I’m beginning to develop what I had coveted for so long; my style, my palette, my choices.
Not everyone reaches their goal in the same way. We can't all live our passions. Some of us can't live that way. I need my day job. It's okay to even like your day job. It doesn’t make you any less of an artist. If you make art, you’re an artist.