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I Could Be an Artist if I Had the Time

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

According to dictionary.com, an ‘artist’ is defined as “1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria. 2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor.”The famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”. While holding on to the imaginations we had as children might be one obstacle to being an artist, many people feel the lack of time is their only obstacle. 

What Is an Artist?

While dictionaries may define an artist in certain terms, there are probably just as many ways to define what an artist is as there are mediums in which to create with. Artists tend to think and see the world differently. They are often very analytical people who are inspired to create by images, words, music, and their own emotions. Art is a means of communication that allows artists a way to communicate their thoughts to others. Artists strive to share what’s on their minds and hearts. In turn, being an artist means being brave. While others may steal away their inner thoughts and feelings, artists take leaps through their work sharing while risking criticism and rejection.

Why Most People Are Not Artists

There are many professional titles people carry throughout their lives. There are doctors, authors, and chief executive officers, but none are as mysterious and attention drawing as that of artist. When was the last time you went to a dinner or party and found your interest piqued after meeting someone who said they were an artist? There’s something about the idea of making one’s living with a paintbrush or camera that grabs even the dullest person’s attention. Many people dreamed of becoming artists as children only to be told they wouldn’t be able to make a living at it.

In actuality, most people are not artists not because they are frightened off by the prospect of poverty, but by their lack of willingness to take risks. Artists are willing to take risks in order to see their artistic dreams to fruition. Artists have a specific purpose in mind that goes beyond getting a job done as many might do in other positions. While many jobs require skills and a level of mastery to get done, being an artist is more than having a gift. It’s the purpose they use that gift for.

The goal of an artist goes beyond money. Oftentimes it’s a goal that touches on their spiritual or emotional side. Perhaps this is why being an artist is associated with a calling. But more than that, most people are not artists because they can not make the intense commitment artists make to their work. Their work is their children, and they will go to great lengths to protect them, often losing money, family, friends, and comforts few would risk. They will not compromise their ethics, will not compromise their vision, and will stand beside what they have created. Artists take pride in putting their name on their work, risking rejection and criticism.

Being an artist requires a thick skin. Most people are not accustomed to the intense rejection and struggles artists face. This is one reason that while many people will say they want to be an artist, they aren’t.

It’s Creativity Most People Crave

Movies have long created an interest in the creative life of the artist. Movies like the 2002 movie Frida, based on famous Mexican painter Frida Khalo, continue to earn the deceased artist fans as people yearn for what the art life represents, creativity and freedom. Actress Amy Adams brought home a Golden Globe for her work in the 2014 movie Big Eyes in which she portrayed artist Margaret Keane. Keane went unrecognized for years as her husband stole credit for her work until it became fact that Margaret was the artist behind the hit phenomenon of figures with oversized eyes. Movies and books alike create a longing in people who feel like they missed their calling or who often say, “I could be an artist if I had the time.” While many people blame time for not pursuing art, it’s often not a career in art they crave but creativity itself.

For many people they may not be able to call themselves an artist, but they can put more creativity into their lives. The act of being creative does not call for professional skills to be enjoyed. Just making art, whether it’s dabbling with a brush or pencil, taps into a person’s creative side. The idea is just to get in touch with one’s creativity by focusing on the hands-on act of creating rather than the outcome or what is created. Like many other practices, creativity begets more creativity. Just as many people make time for exercising, making time for creativity helps people make art. Scheduling creative pursuits like one does to exercise negates the argument of not having time. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day. Most people manage to get other things done, so the question of not having enough time is not an actual lack but a negative mindset.

Lack of Time is a Mindset

Typically, there are two types of mindsets – fixed and growth. With a fixed mindset people believe they are born with certain qualities and traits with no possibility of change. In a growth mindset, people believe their abilities can be developed or made stronger through commitment. In this vein, those who say they have no time are working from a fixed mindset believing that they cannot find the time in a 24-hour day to create.  

Lack of time is responsible for the death of dreams. It’s the number one reason people point to when asked why they haven’t done something or gone somewhere. However, psychologists like Carol Dweck have proven that lack of time is a mindset that can be changed. In the case of those who feel they could be an artist, it’s a fix that’s as easy as said earlier - schedule time to be creative. Grab a pencil and paper. Grab that canvas gathering dust and pull out that brush and paints.

Artists succeed while others merely dream because of their intense commitment to their art. Could you be an artist if you had the time? If you feel you have a purpose and are ready to make that commitment, only time will tell.

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