Five Signs You Might be.... an Artist!
Before I launch into the five signs I will be writing about in this article, we need a definition: art•ist \'ar-tist\n :one who practices an art: esp one who creates objects of beauty. (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary). This definition will come in handy later, so keep it in mind.
I have drawn and painted all my life, but only recently become comfortable with referring to myself as an artist. Somehow calling myself an artist seemed presumptuous, even bordering on arrogant. Now I understand that my interests, abilities, and "talents" speak more to who I am than necessarily what I do. I believe that many artists share certain characteristics and interests that set them apart. Being an artist is a great thing, though the world does not always recognize and value artists and their contributions. This lack of recognition and value has proven costly on a personal level for many people, but has left the world poorer for it as well.
In my exploring and thinking about this topic, I have identified five "signs" that may reveal that you, too, are an artist. See what you think....
1. Office Supply/Art Supply Geek
You are a person who loves a new pen or marker. You take pleasure in using paper and pencil to express your ideas. The physical action of creating lines is in itself rewarding. For you, using office supplies to modify and manipulate paper (stapling, cutting, taping, etc.) is fun. You experiment with different styles of handwriting. You see a blank sheet of paper as being full of potential.
You may also have discovered the joys of art supplies. While you may or may not have been trained in their use, the variety of colors of paints or markers attracts you. Your interest may also be in three-dimensional media. Perhaps you have fond memories of clay in school or of play doh as a child. These preferences or interests may be a sign that you are an artist.
You have always been a doodler. Whenever you have time to spare (waiting on hold on the phone, sitting through meetings at work, etc.) you fill the margins of your paper with your own brand of doodles. While it probably isn't an activity you take seriously, it is an enjoyable diversion.
You may have actually taken the step beyond doodling to drawings. Perhaps you loved to draw or paint or color as a child, only to have someone's unthinking criticism or description of the activity you enjoyed so much as a "waste of time." I think that such negative comments have discouraged many people from their artistic destiny.
3. "Visual" Learner
You have always been a visual learner. Before a concept can be firmly grasped by a visual learner, he or she must be able to "see" it in his or her mind. This type of learner studies best with visual information - seeing words to learn their spelling rather than hearing the words being spelled, for example.
Visual learners love illustrations, photos, graphs, tables, and charts. All of these formats present information in highly visual forms. Visual learners say things like, "I see what you're saying," or "Let me look into the problem."
You have always had the ability to visualize scenes from a book. Descriptions in text become vivid in your mind's eye. When presented with a problem, you tend to visualize a solution, perhaps drawing images that help lead to an answer.
4. Fascination with Color, Line, and Pattern
You are a person who notices things like color, pattern, styling, and design. You may have been told you have an eye for color. You are pleased by things you find to be symmetrical, balanced, intricate; in a word, beautiful.
You notice the beauty of a sunset, while most people fail to look up. Similarly, you take note of "small things" others overlook - the play of light on the water, the graceful curve of a table leg, the intricacy of a seashell. Which brings me to sign number five...
5. A Sense of Wonder
Unlike most of your contemporaries, you still have the sense of wonder we all had as children. You are still excited by the things you encounter in your everyday life, though you may have learned to hide or muffle your enthusiasm to better fit in this jaded world. Though everyone around you seems to have lost it, you still see the world as a beautiful and magical place.
All of these "signs" may point to the fact that you are an artist. Life may not have been conducive to you discovering and nurturing this aspect of who you are, but it's not too late!
I am not suggesting you quit your job and sequester yourself in a studio somewhere, though that may be the path you determine is best for you. While I declare and testify that being an artist is a wonderful thing, there are challenges and trials involved.
What I do suggest is that you accept and seek to develop yourself in your artistic life. You do not have to make your living as an artist. Precious few of us are lucky enough to be able to do that. You do not have to have a degree from an art school, or validation from some other person that you are, indeed, an artist. You can, however, allow yourself to explore what being an artist might mean for you. It may mean taking an art course. It may be taking up those pencils or paint brushes that fascinate you or were set aside long ago. The goal may not be to create a great masterpiece, though that may be what happens. The goal really is to find, develop, and celebrate your true self. As our definition at the beginning of this article intimates, your very life, if lived as your authentic artistic self, could become an "object of beauty."
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." - e.e. cummings