I’ve never liked to call myself an artist.
When I was little, I used to play with clay. The kind that you can get from Crayola, that never dries out and is in bright colors. I would use butter knives and toothpicks to sculpt rather intricate detail into my work. My mother used to bring her friends into my room to show them my elaborate Star Trek sets, which included the entire Enterprise D bridge and crew. The figures were less than an inch tall and had recognizable details, like Worf’s sash and Geordi’s visor.
I always had a lump of clay hidden in my desk in grade school, and would sculpt space shuttles, cars, and Transformers by touch during boring lectures.
In high school, I produced ceramic bowls, plates, and vessels, as well as characters and ships from video games. I once managed to construct a two foot ceramic rat and a large Vic Viper.
I did paper-mache on wire frames. Some rather simple designs. Oh, and a three-foot tall model of Beavis and Butthead choking each other.
I did jewelry work in high school. I made some necklaces and rings. When I was a little older, I made my (now ex) wife’s engagement ring. I even created some pieces for magical use.
I’ve done some woodworking. I used to make small altars for stone a candle magic. I even sold a few of them. I once build a double-cube Qabalistic altar on commission for $100.
In grade school I played the violin. And the clarinet. And the slide trombone. I still play my ocarina, and I have a guitar, although I’ve never had the time or money to take lessons. I sing all the damn time, and very frequently filk songs or make up my own random ditties. I have sang ballads to pad thai and odes to tacos.
In middle school, I once created a dummy that I could punch and beat up to release aggression. I sewed it by hand. I’ve helped my partner make period clothes for SCA events, and have constructed my own ritual clothes.
I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I’ve written horrible poetry by the truckload, some decent and clever poetry, and most science-fiction themed short stories. I wrote a 50-page novella for a creative writing class in high school. I’m getting back into the practice, and am working on a few short stories and ideas for a few books. And I suppose designing, editing, and writing for the several websites and blogs I’ve had over the years ought to count for something.
I used to do photography. Hidden somewhere are dozens if not hundreds of pictures, of people, landscapes, unusual objects, animals, insects, buildings, vehicles, and whatever else looked interesting. I actually worked as a portrait photographer for a while. And hopefully you’ve seen some of my experiments with videos. I’ve even made some video games before. (RPG Maker FTW!)
And I cook. I cook very well, and I’ve been doing it as an occupation in some form for at least 13 years. Now I am by no means a trained chef, but I cook well, and I take pride in making food that is not only tasty but is presented in a very visually appealing manner.
In high school I was in theater. I can apply my own and other people’s stage makeup. I can set lighting, design sets, and build them. And I can assume a persona and present that to the audience.
And I am a magician. Through imagery, voice, and movement, I commune with the divine. It’s like acting, but the gods are my audience.
But I’ve never liked to think of myself as an artist.
A little while ago, I wrote about feeling lost. My Mentor told me that I was struggling because I have the soul of an artist, but I wasn’t making art. I said this about it:
You see, I have equated “art” with “pretension” for some time. I get very annoyed with pagans, witches, and magicians who flaunt their “artist” credentials and drone on about incorporating their art with their magic in some grand project. This has even led me to not think of valid artists as “artists” if they’re not annoying and self absorbed. In my mind, people like Lupa are highly skilled craftsmen (uhhh, craftspersons?) and technicians. Anyone who perfects a technical craft is making art. One of the most beautiful examples I have seen of this was a a cook at a Pizza Hut who flicked his wrist and flipped a 12 inch pizza straight from the pan into the box. That’s art. Bloviating for 20 minutes about your “vision” isn’t.
Art is about seeing connections between things that other may not have seen before. Art is about form and function. Art is about pride and grace. Art is about quality. Art is about creating something that someone else recognizes as valuable because it has a beauty or quality uniquely its own. It is also about capturing the beauty of objects or moments in the world and expressing them in unique or thought-provoking ways. It is all these things and more.
Anything that humans put there hands to with mindfulness, creativity, and passion is art. And I must begrudgingly admit that this includes the self-serving pretentious assholes who ejaculate on trash and present it as a political thesis.
I am an artist. I am owning that fact.