He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

― Saint Francis of Assisi

Who is an artist is a question for people with too much idle time. When you make something from your imagination, you are an artist. A low-skill crude effort may not generate any interest, but it’s still a work of art created by an artist, no matter how unskilled they are.

You can’t and don’t need to let other people decide who is an artist because all they have is an opinion. They might swing it as if they have the authority to make such decisions, but they are delusional. And ultimately, they will have little or no impact on your life as an artist. As such, it’s my strong advice to pay no attention to them. They are energy vampires who feed on anxiety.

No One Owns or Controls the Term “artist.”

There are no laws or police to enforce who can call themselves artists. As such, it’s an argument not worth having. If you disagree, I’m not here to convince you of how wrong you are. My goal here is to stick up for anyone who makes any art and feels put down by others who try to say they are not an artist and their work is not art.

Stay Out of the Labels Trap.

A photographer friend sent me this post: Photography’s Phallic Stage or Why Photographers Should Stop Calling Themselves “Artists” – Unpacking photography’s biggest inferiority complex.

I replied with these thoughts. “Thanks for sending the link. It’s interesting, but I beg to differ. The author is both a photographer and an artist.”

It’s a cold world with many waiting to put you down with their opinions. I’m trying to show artists they don’t have to be accountable to anybody but themselves, and they can pick and choose who else they give that privilege. And to hell with those who cast negative aspersions.

Labels Suck Unless They Are Self-Appointed.

The photographer/artist/author of the linked post above is worried about labels. I get she’s tired of fighting to prove she is an artist and doesn’t want to debate with those who don’t think photographers are legitimate artists, so she’s giving up considering herself an artist, which is a shame.

I advise her to give up listening to those who want to argue the value of photography as an art form or whatever their pointy-head opinion spews out. She will never convince anyone that she is correct or that they are wrong. But sadly, they’ve cornered her into thinking she must defend herself as an artist by not calling herself an artist any longer. It makes no sense ever to give away one’s power unnecessarily. Instead, let them stew in their negativity and walk away.

Pick Your Battles Wisely.

It’s hard if they have the keys to what you want if it is truly what you desire. Regardless, you can still be an artist and photographer and anything else you want to be without explanation. Believe in yourself that you can live free and creatively, and you can make it happen.

Please never worry about labels you don’t give yourself.

― Barney Davey

Your Words Matter More Than You Think.

 What you say about yourself matters. It’s your brand/reputation for controlling. Do it, so others don’t do it for you. It starts with a mindset and conviction to work on what you say about yourself. Personal storytelling is a mighty, self-supporting task with lifetime mileage.

Your turn on earth is limited. There are too many negative types waiting to put a hit on any target they choose, including your career or how you classify yourself when it is none of their business. If they are not paying your bills or supporting you as a primary patron, their opinions are useless.

The Bottom Line Is for You to Be You.

Never forget you are an artist. Never let anyone take that label from you. Never accept any labels you did not give yourself or wish to receive from others. They might think their opinion matters in their world, and it does to them and whoever follows them blindly—but knowing their influence and opinions are not empirical knowledge is empowering.

There is a high probability that those who are most likely to buy your work and become supporting patrons of it will never hear those differing attitudes or give them any serious consideration if they do.

The Healthy Way to Handle Unwanted Labels

Having an innate sense of who you are as an artist and knowing your expectations for the art business adventure you choose invalidates unwanted and unsolicited labels. You flat out reject them, vigorously if necessary. Keep your business focused on finding, connecting, and influencing those most likely to buy your work and support your career. You don’t have time to battle with doofus knuckleheads whose delusional self-importance makes them think their opinions matter when they don’t.  

AMTP Membership Provides Unique Art Marketing Perspective.

If you can benefit from learning more about connections, social influence, micro-tribes, and innovative art marketing, I invite you to become an AMTP (Art Marketing Toolkit Project) member. You’ll gain access to a world-class library of comprehensive art marketing information. And additionally, you’ll join a worldwide group of artists and me in a community where we seek to help each other learn to market art effectively and live our lives creatively.

As a payback to the art business that has been instrumental in my life for 30 years, I priced it for all artists no matter who they are or where they live.

I’d Like to Become an AMTP Member

PS. The AMTP focus is making connections, leveraging micro-influencing, mastering art marketing skills, and encouraging you to learn enough about yourself to know how much marketing, connections, and influence you need to succeed. It happens when you see what you want is realistically attainable, and you know how you can make your reality and dreams match.

PPS. The share buttons below work well, and I will be grateful if you honor me by using them.


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  • Alvin Schryvers says:

    Thanks, I never felt comfortable labeling myself as an artist.

    • I understand. You are not alone. I wrote this post for you and others who have the same feeling about calling themselves an artist.

  • Snapping “pictures” with your phone is not photography. A photographer thinks about what they are creating and composes the image, adjusts lighting, etc. That’s Art!

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