Did you know I just recently realized that I am an artist? Last December I was having a moment, a "who am I" moment and realized that I have never fully embraced this thing that is very much a part of me.
I colored it with other titles, other roles and job descriptions. Designer. Educator. Blogger. Illustrator. Because they are indeed what I do (and will continue to do), and because those make sense. When you say "assistant professor" or "graphic designer" people get it — there isn't much else to explain. It's easy. But none of those really encompass what is at my core. None of those fully express the creative spirit that makes me happy, that gives me life and energy.
When you say artist, it carries so much more beauty and strength, along with expectations, responsibility and of course baggage. I think that's where it got scary for me.
I had a preconceived idea of what being an artist meant. Even in undergrad at art school, it was always "we" (the designers, were going to be able to make money and payoff our student loans) and "them" (the fine artists, weren't). The world has painted this negative picture about what it means to be an artist. I knew for sure that I didn't want to starve, I didn't want to be gallery-hungry, I didn't want to live in a disheveled loft with ten other artists as we found our way while sharing a cup of Ramen noodles.
All of this was a very ignorant misconception of an artist's life, because what I never realized until now (or that day in December) is that I am responsible for defining what it means to be an artist to me. All artists are responsible for this, which is part of the beauty of being who we are, we can create the world and life we want. (If you want to take it even further, in essence we are all artists in that way. We are all responsible for creating the world and life we want, no matter what kind of work we do.)
Since this revelation, since this whirlwind of ideas and thoughts, so much has changed for me. My way of thinking has shifted and my creative process has evolved. I am happier, and all of this has attracted exciting and positive opportunities into my life.
The same week I had my revelation, I went to the post office to ship some of my prints and the post-lady said to me as I walked up, "there she is, my little Artiste." Any other day it would have just been a cute greeting, but that day — in the same week of my "I am an artist" moment — I knew it was a clear message that I was on the right path.