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I Am (Not) an Artist

By Ruth Odin

This blog post might be a little different. I hope it reaches the right people.

I was torturing myself over this post for a long time. What the hell was I going to write about? I’m not an artist- who am I to write a blog post for an art magazine?

This may just be imposter syndrome, it may be a genuine understanding of the limitations of myself, or it may just be a self-indulgent pity party, but I really have never thought of myself as an artist.

To clarify: I have played the violin and the viola for 15 years, I have been able to fluently read music for as long as I can remember, I always loved choir and orchestra more than everything except English class and philosophical thought, my notes app is filled with my own poetry and prose that may never see the light of day, I edit other people’s work for fun, and I have always had fantasies of one day having the courage to publish something. But I am not an artist.

My majors here at AU are Communications and Philosophy. Communications is a means to an end and philosophy is my passion. Both will result in my receiving a “bachelor of the arts.” But I am not an artist.

I think a lot about others out there who are like me, whose lives solely and completely revolve around art in various forms, but who will never consider themselves artists. I wonder what your passion is. What makes your heart happiest? What is it that you will never consider yourself good enough at to call yourself an artist of that variety?

Maybe you’re like me. You enjoy editing, but not publishing your own work. You love playing an instrument, but only in an ensemble, not solo, and not for money. You love thinking, but not always expressing.

Or maybe you crochet? Play ukulele and sing alone in your room? Teach yourself to draw, or journal, or sew, or paint, or cook, or collage, or take pictures?

If you had to write a blog post like this, would you also feel out of place?

I could say something cliché (and quite philosophical!) right about now – about how “everyone’s an artist” or “art is defined by the mind that creates it.” Great ideas, but I’m thinking more personally right now. I want to talk directly to the soul reading this.

You’re reading the blog of a magazine. One for poetry, prose, art, and photography. So, you must have some interest as a consumer, contributor, or student.

What I want to say now is this: take a look at yourself. If your list of passions and degrees is like mine, and you have always wanted to call yourself an artist? Do it. There will never be a point in your life at which you’ve “made it” enough to do so. Just fucking do it.

Even if you never publish a thing. Even if you never make a living out of it. Even if no one hears your deeper thoughts about that concept. Even if your skill is only kept to yourself.

You’re an artist. Deep down, you have always known you were. You’ve never loved anything like you love art. So say it. I’ll say it with you.

I am an artist.

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