If I hear one more pop star describe themselves as an “artist,” I'm going to puke.

When did pop stars become "artists"?  I'm stunned by the amount of time that some people - bless their hearts - spend trying to convince the world that they're artists.

Creative and perhaps somewhat artistic?  Yes.  Artists?  No.  And here's what really gets me ... People actually buy it!  Well, guess what?  I don't. Here's why ...

You know how much time I spend interviewing gifted, visual artists.  I mean, I'm talking about serious, kick-ass artists who are beyond talented.  Funny thing is that I've noticed that some of these artists - the most talented artists alive - are themselves somewhat reluctant to call themselves artists. I've heard this more than a few times which I find completely charming and disarming.

Dictionary.com defines "artist" as “a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria." OR “a person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor."

Okay ... now.  While the definition can actually include singers, musicians, dancers, actors, writers, yes writers, craftspeople and more, here's the thing.  The definition says, "...especially a painter or sculptor."

The definition is actually making allowances for the fact that our society has expanded the term, "artist."  Fine. However, it also says that when you really get down to it, artists are really painters (I would also include photographers) and sculptors. THEY are the TRUE artists.

Singers are singers.  Musicians are musicians. Dancers are dancers.  Writers are writers.  Actors are actors and so on.  Artists are ARTISTS.  THEY are the real deal.

Let me just say that I don't want to take anything away from talented, hard working, pop stars who sell out concerts or actors who have mega-hit films and make the talk show rounds and talk about preparing for roles as if they're curing cancer. I like many of them.  More power to them.

However, I think that the word, "artist" has become SO overused that it has actually eclipsed the people who are the actual artists.  Visual artists.

You can be a fantastically creative person and not be an artist, but you cannot be an artist without being fantastically creative.  There's a difference. I consider myself a fantastically creative person, but God knows I’m not an artist, nor do I want to be. 

Now, I know what you might be thinking ...  

"Well, WHO does HE think he is to say WHO is an artist and who isn't?" You're absolutely right.  I am one person with an opinion.  I have mine and you have yours.  That's how it works.

All I can think is that the next time you read about some pop star or actor who stumbled drunk out of a nightclub and into the handcuffs of a star-struck police officer, think about some of the incredible visual artists who work every day in their studios creating some of the most visually-stunning things you've ever seen in your life.  Think about the fact that most of them don't know WHERE their next sale is coming from.

And let me just add that we all know that most pop stars don't have trouble with the law and not all artists are devoted, law-abiding human beings. People are human.  We're a combination of good and bad, wise and stupid and so on ...

Still, I've discovered that most visual artists don't take the term "artist" lightly.  They step into that term only AFTER they've truly earned it.

I don't know.  I'm just sayin'.  In short, pop stars are not artists UNLESS they just so happen to also be visual artists, but that's another essay for another day.




Why Are Artists Important?