What Makes An “Artist” An Artist?

The sole thing that would prevent an artist from working is his own degree of determination. People who are not artists imagine that there are other things necessary – creativity would likely be the highest on the list, or imagination, perhaps. But this isn’t true. There are many professional artists who have very little creativity. They make art that is formulaic or essentially derived from other artists’ works. And they often do well. Others do very little themselves, having assistants, or even whole crews of assistants to do the heavy lifting.

One of the most noted glass artists in the world, Dale Chihuly, personally accomplishes little or nothing of the actual creations that come from his studio. However, this is a long tradition in art. Many famous painters of yore had huge schools and students who did much of the painting that was produced under their name, while they focused on supervision and finishing touches.

But the artist shows up and makes certain that art is produced, no matter what his specific artistic function is. He (or she) may be the imaginer, the partial or the total physical producer. But above all, he is focused and determined that art happens. Without this, there is no art, and no artist.

– Michelle Gaugy