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Lesson Plans

Re: Who are artists?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Scott Walters (
Thu, 8 Feb 1996 11:54:54 +0000

>The idea that one is an artist from
>>birth, or that anybody can be an artist if they are dabbling in the arts,
>>diminishes the role of the artist in society -- a role which ought to
>>place him or her at the top of the social hierarchy. Nobody is a doctor
>>from birth, or an accountant -- they first must acquire the necessary
>>skills and experience. Why should one of the most difficult and important
>>jobs in the world be any different?
>Don't you think that people have that talent when they are born???

No, Andrea, I don't. I think they may have a predilection for certain ways
of seeing the world, and certain strengths that may help them toward being
an artist, but I don't think they are born with "talent." Nor does
possession of talent necessarily make one an artist. I believe that an
overwhelming number
of human beings have the potential to be artists, but for
one reason or another, never develop that potential. They are not artists.
At best, they have "artistic" tendencies.
Similarly, I think that there are many people whose innate "talents" are
less than others, but who become artists through desire and discipline.

>Some people can never be artists. I believe it has to be born in you,
>the other sense to see things differently. True, you have to develop the
>skills over a lifetime, but something has to be there to begin with.

Ah, there's the distinction I am making: that unless you develop the
skills, you are "artistic," but not an "artist." It is a fine distinction,
I know. But I believe that the word "artist" should be reserved for those
who have committed the time, focus, and energy to developing skills beyond
the basic level. So in some ways, becoming an artist requires that one
serve an apprenticeship, in many ways -- a period when one studies and

>incomparable to any profession such as medicine or law or accounting. No
>amount of studying book material can give you the talent an artist needs
>to capture and interpret a moment in time.

Well, no amount of book material can lead a doctor to look at a human being
and make the correct diagnosis, or a lawyer to ask the right questions. It
is a mixture of experience and learning. On the other hand, the idea that
an artist can do with out "book material" can be directly tied, in my
opinion, to the shallowness of a great deal of contemporary art, as well as
the relatively low level of craftsmanship exhibited. There are things that
can be learned from a book -- the basic concepts of perspective or color
theory, for instance. More importantly, there are books that can deepen
one's perception of the world. Artists reflect the world, but how can they
do so without understanding it fully and deeply?

Scott Walters

  • Reply: Alanis!!: "Re: Who are artists?"