Calling myself an artist

June 28

this is a page of rants I had to get out on a summer day...

It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It's not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention.

in 2000—I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, and I still believe that. But today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”
Excuse me for writing yet another update about creativity and the artist identity... I’ve gradually realized, through simply the sheer number of times I talk about this topic in my gap year updates, that this is a main theme of my year off. 

At what point do I become a real artist? 

When I have confidence in my work, I would say any time: art is not a profession and artists are not like lawyers or doctors that need to pass professional tests. The moment you consider yourself an artist, you simply become an artist. 

When I lose my judgment on my work, I’d ask: what about a *real* artist? An artist who is seen as an artist not just by her family and friends, but also by people who just meet her and/or see her work the first time. An artist who, when asked “what do you do”, can proudly answer “I make art”, and just that. 

Part of me still buys into the myth of artists being a path for the naturally gifted. One day the world calls upon you to make art, the universe whispers to you your talent cannot be wasted, so you close your eyes, channel your natural creativity and magic happens. 

What is that moment for me? How do I choose to interpret the signals that I have received?

i dont feel like a genius. i just feel like someone who chose to believe her 9th grade art teacher’s words that she could be an artist in the future, and someone who can’t live without creating things. Is that enough? Is that still not enough?

Do I not fantasize about becoming a really really cool artist when I grow up? no way. I do that a lot. 

The moments when I feel my artist identity a little more acknowledged are when artists I find really cool think I make cool work too. 

Like last night when I followed an artist whom I thought was so cool, he followed back and actually dm’ed me saying my work was “rad” and “different.” I thanked him and said I loved his work. And he replied asking me what my background and process were!

Since the beginning of this year, I have been secretly hoping that I could start my own production studio of some sort by the time I graduate. By that I mean I hope to be able to decently support myself financially through what I earn from my studio.

This is quite a crazy dream because the standard I have for my studio is so high. 

I was stuck in an echo chamber with myself when I was creating alone and for myself. While my friends who don’t do the same kind of art as I do have always been so supportive, it is not the same when creating isn’t the main source of their identity. 

There comes another kind of acknowledgment when a fellow artist in a similar art style that I really appreciate, appreciates my work also. Even if we have never met or talked before, when I see them follow me or comment on my post, one particular part of my existence is acknowledged more. 

It might sound dramatic, but it is reality to me. 

I don’t have a good gauge of my work because I know I always have a predetermined emotional attachment to them, given the amount of time I spend creating them. I tend to like to believe it is not as cool as I hope it to be. 

The thing about art is that it really doesn’t have an official metric. Back in high school, when I participated in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, I always felt skeptical towards the kind of work they awarded. So many of the winning works were simply good in technical skills but lacking in concept and originality. I felt Scholastic wasn’t open enough to experimental work and thus wasn’t actually encouraging experimentation that is actually valued by art schools like RISD.

Fast forward to London, I met a really talented VR artist Ben Lunato, whose VR work was so stunning that I couldn’t believe he never heard back from any galleries he reached out to.

It is unfortuante that being a high status artist does require the skill of knowing how to win important credentials and meeting the right people, on top of having a decent amount of creativity. I have really come to understand that a lot of incredible artists simply don’t bother to spend the time applying for bajillion well-known initiatives to boost their reputation, while there also are artists who appear to be impressive because of the institutions they have been attached to, but in actuality don’t have the most creative works that I’d expect from the reputation they’ve built up for themselves. 

Anyways, all that is to say that right now what really matters to me is to be appreciated by artists with similar aesthetic. And just create with them on whatever.