You are an Artist

I would like to talk to you all today about artists.

Firstly, welcome to my art process journal/art essay series! For those of you who don’t know me or are recent viewers, my name is Nathan Rackley, and I’m an independent comic artist and freelance illustrator. I often go by the online handle of Droakir (also known as Dro, Dr. Dro, or Doc on various internet sites forums), so if you see me on another site, feel free to drop me a line! 

My time on deviantArt and the artist/social media circle in general since my return in late 2012 has been a whirlwind affair. You guys have all been so incredible and welcoming and open that it’s been a wonderful experience for me. And for that I am eternally grateful to all of you.

Anyways, now that the introductions are over, let’s get down to business. I’ll be posting this blog both here as well as over on my deviantART account. Eventually I’ll translate some of these blogs into journal-style comics for easy reading, but I figure these topics are important enough that I want to talk about it.

I have a lot to share but I’ll try to keep these short, so they don’t fall into that TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) category.

Not all art is created equal. Nor are all artists.
Not all art is created equal. Nor are all artists.

Up until a few short years ago, I never really considered myself an artist. 

That probably came from the fact that I am predominantly a cartoonist, which is often considered to be “low brow” by other “fine artists”. Most people look at it and say “Is it writing? Is it art?” The realm of literature would say that it isn’t writing, but art, even though comics are published in books. The artists say that it isn’t art, but writing, despite the fact that each panel has to be meticulously illustrated. It’s a stigma that’s been attached to comics and cartoons for almost a century now.

I bought into it. I constantly looked at cool art and would think to myself “Wow – I wish I were an artist like those guys,” or I’d think about doing an drawing, but then I would stop. “Why would anyone want to see what I draw?” I would ask myself, “After all – I’m no artist.” So I never considered myself artist. I was merely a cartoonist. A hack. Not anybody worth noting.

I realize now that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The problem is with the definition of art. What is art? People actually argue about this all the time. It’s one of those cases where the first guy to the meeting makes the rules and everyone else has to live by them. In realms of “new media” like comics, cartoons, and video games (despite some of these forms being centuries old at this point) all the other folks at the table get uncomfortable.

Honestly, I think they feel threatened by new styles and genres. So when they try to define art, they typically only do so with respect to their own forms. And that’s the wrong attitude to have about something as abstract a concept as “art”.

So now I try to define art in such a way that it really brings in everything it should under one roof. So when I talk about art, I like to apply the most broad definition I can.

I define art as “something that is imagined, then represented for others to experience”.

By that definition, writing is art. Drawing is art. So would cartoons, comics, animation, movies, video games, architecture, and a whole lot more. The list could go on and on.

So why is it so important to broadly define something like art? 

One word: Attitude.

It’s how we think about the creative process and ourselves in relation to it.

It took me years to accept myself as an artist. Once I did, it opened my mind up to infinite possibilities. Suddenly I realized I wasn’t an outsider looking in, but rather a part of the fray – drawing and thinking and creating! It’s the attitude about the whole thing that’s important. Because if you don’t feel like you’re one of the crowd, you’ll just wallow in depression and self-doubt. I know this from first-hand experience.

So I wanted to share this with you all. If you enjoy creating things and sharing them with everyone else, don’t sell yourself short! You are an artist.

Tell yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror. Constantly remind yourself of this fact. Because no matter your skill level or your current walk of life, you are an artist. That is something that nobody can take away from you. It’s a quality bound to your character – your very soul. You are part of a community of artists. Learn! Share! Create!

So never forget this. It’s important.

YOU ARE AN ARTIST.

-Nathan

Like what you read? Have something to add? Do you disagree? Please feel free to let me know in the comments below!

2 Comments

  1. lorenzo ross said:

    Nathan, I hear you loud and clear and I have come to the same realization. I used to be somewhat ashamed of telling people that I ‘m a cartoonist. Now I use it as a filter. If someone wants to judge me or look down on me because of my profession that tells me that knowing them would probably not be a positive relationship. The medium is still in it’s infancy and I feel lucky to be a part of it at this time in history.

    August 7, 2014
    Reply
    • Agreed! It took me a long time to actually decide that I was an artist. And though a lot of other fine artists might get a little snooty when I mention I’m a cartoonist (when I was taking fiction writing courses and the like the instructors sneered at the concept of writing cartoon strips), I take it in stride. Being a cartoonist is NOT a bad thing. It’s a unique genre, and it’s one we should be proud of! 😀

      November 19, 2014
      Reply

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