Am I Really An Artist Anymore?

Since I've been doing graphic design work for the last three or four years and working much more with computers than with pencil and paper, I wonder sometimes if I'm really what you'd call an artist anymore. Generally speaking, I design print layouts and website templates. I work a lot with Flash animation and I'm learning more about programming so I can make websites work better. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy what I do; other wise, I wouldn't do it. But since I design for a living, I don't come home and draw anymore. As a matter of fact, my drawing skills went from decent to suck as soon as I fell in love with Photoshop and Illustrator. Mostly, if I'm going to unwind and do something "free and artistic," I usually play the guitar (music being my dual passion alongside design). 

Sometimes I look back on my days as a kid when I used to constantly draw and think that I was more of an artist back then. Visual art used to hold no borders or constraints; it didn't have rules; it was anarchy. It could be good or bad; precise or sloppy; it didn't matter. But now when I approach visual art, before I even start thumbnailing, I find myself concepting; overthinking; overanalyzing and agonizing. I start thinking of target demographics; color palettes; fonts, and typographic harmony. But lately, since I've spent the better part of my twenties learning the principals of design and studying different approaches, I wonder if I'm more of an artist now than I've ever been. 

What IS the definition of art? Is art a free-form expression unemcumbered by rules? Or is art simply visual critical thinking? There was a long period between the age of 17 to the age of 24 where I all but gave up on being a visual artist because of this tug-of-war. I didn't want art to be work, but on the other hand, I wanted to become a great artist. Fortunately and unfortunately, work is necessary to becoming great. In some strange and abstract way, I think the answer to my long-standing question is this: art is both A and B. It is one part anarchy, and the other part critical thinking. There are so many rules you have to learn and follow to become a proficient artist. But great artists know and have practiced the rules enough to break them. Perhaps "breaking rules" isn't the right way to put it. Maybe they can simply deconstruct the rules and put them back together in a different way. 

Am I really an artist anymore? I suppose I am. My art simply went from being self-serving and directionless to being focused and purposeful. It also went to serving two different masters: the public at large and my bottom line. I suppose, at least for now, that my days of visual free association are over. But in a way, I like having a purpose to what I do. Maybe one of these days, when I'm older, I'll rediscover fine art and the magic that a pencil once held. Perhaps age will help me find a good balance between all of the things I've learned and the anarchy I once craved as a kid. It's a balancing act.
gooddave gooddave
31-35, M
4 Responses Jun 13, 2011

You kinda remind me of myself in a way.

No you are still an artist, just becoming one of the 21st century. I hit up against this whole idea of "graphic Arts and computers way back in 1986. I was and still am a "graphic Artist" but from the old ways. Now a person can make beautiful images from a photo and never know how to draw-just know composition. It's great in the commersial world but I really think it's horrid for the "art world". Just that a small store ownerd can get their 14yo child to make their ads proves that point. My son is really good at modern images by hand, yet he embraces the computer world-knows all that flash stuff-programming and all and has a few classes in the cutting edge stuff he wants and then strike out on his own to compete against artists, like you, and those that would be dead if they had to draw a straight line!<br />
<br />
<br />
But I could not fight it so here's how I keep my "art" as an artist. Everytime I feel like I'm not one-I sit and get out the sketch pens and paper. If I have a rough time of it, I make a point to give myself a project to complete-it sharpens my talents. You only feel this way because you have pent-up talents not being used or really even valued by today's population-kinda like not having "real" sex for too long-go have some real sex! LOL!!!!<br />
<br />
<br />
Oh and $200 mil for "the scream",..., really? I've wiped off better and walked away! be good-S

why not think of it just as the ancient greek philosophers once thought of artists? That we are separate from our abilities.. our art muses come to us, and tap us on the shoulder,and then we create something amazing, something beautiful, something we weren't even intending to leave our minds. Their belief allowed the artist to separate their artwork from their egos, and detach failures and successes. The artist remains an artist regardless of whether or not he/she has created a masterpiece or not.

Thanks. Actually, that really helped a lot.

I feel the same. I went from Digital artist to graphic designer to teacher. I don't remember the last time I sat down and drew something. I use my creativity differently now, when I can find it. I feel it's kind of died out and gone from me.

Sorry to hear. I know what you mean. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way sometimes. But maybe that's simply what it is: using your creativity differently. :)

Maybe. I do miss sitting and drawing, might give it a go today, but I doubt it'll happen.

I think you can do it. ;) I have faith in you.