What Kind Of Artist Do You Call Yourself?

Every so often, I get into conversation with someone at my office about the world of music.  Recently, some of these conversations have to do with the contract dispute our symphony musicians are engaged in.  Not everyone in the Motor City understands or believes that professional musicians should be paid and paid well for what they do.  Playing music is exhilarating and joyful and personally rewarding.  It’s also very hard work, and requires years and years of effort, time, and expensive training, to achieve the professional quality of a world class symphony player.

The other day I heard myself prefacing my explanation about the contract talks by saying, “I am a musician.”

For a moment, I took myself aback.  You see, I rarely refer to myself in that way, although I’ve been studying and playing and performing music for the past 48 years.  Sometimes I get paid for doing it, sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes it’s a blast, and sometimes it’s just drudgery.  But lately, I’ve begun to think that all those years of playing music entitle me to claim that title.

Here’s another moniker I rarely adhere to aloud:

Of course I am – if I’m not, what in heavens name am I doing sitting here, when I could be at the movies, or riding my bike, or out to dinner with friends?  More and more often, the only way I can make any sense of life in general and my own in particular it to write about it.  Whether anyone reads it or not is almost immaterial.

We all like to be recognized by our peers.  But sometimes before that can happen, we need to recognize ourselves first.  We need to call ourselves by name, and affirm what kind of artist we are.

I am a musician.

I am a writer.

What kind of artist are you?

Visit Jamie Ridler’s blog and accept her invitation to name yourself.

11 thoughts on “What Kind Of Artist Do You Call Yourself?

  1. Yes, Naming is a powerful thing. Congratulations to you for being able to do it. You truly ARE a musician and a writer (or is it the other way round?), and can stand the taller for announcing it. Brava, Becca!

  2. I don’t consider myself as any artist at all….I’m just someone who likes to blog a bit, who sings in an amateur choir, who used to play the flute, who tries to run, … but I’m not excelling in any of these or neither activity takes up truly that much time or devotion to give myself a label. And I’m perfectly fine in that

  3. I am a writer, a photographer and an artist (meaning a visual artist). And apart from the writer part, which is my work, I have a hard time adding those monikers to my name, as I always feel overshadowed by those better to me. (Art Wolfe, Annie Liebovitz — they’re photographers. And let’s not even start with the artists!).

    But I’m working on it. And I admire your confidence and presence to easily “name” your skill! Bravo!

  4. I’ve struggled with professional labels for years. Finally admitting that I am a writer was very powerful. I’m also an entertainer but that sounds like a Vegas show girl. What I’ve identified is that I enjoy an audience, the metaphorical stage.

  5. I think sometimes it takes time for what we do to become who we are. We grow into new identities just as we grow into the potentialities that are our bodies.

    When I began The Task at Hand, my tagline was “A New Writer’s Search for Just the Right Word”. “New” was a nice diminuitive, a way to say “writer” without really saying it.

    After a year, I changed the tagline to “A Writer’s On-Going Search for Just the Right Word”. It was a subtle change, but real.

    But in the process of this happening, something got added to the mix. Other people began referring to me as a writer, and that meant I had a decision to make – would I accept that, or not? It’s an important question, I think, because if we accept those titles, then we have the responsibility to do something with them.

    I’ve been thinking about all this quite a bit the past couple of days. My latest post was noticed by the WP powers that be, and landed on the main page for the Writing tag. I keep an eye on my stats, and found it. If some perfect stranger judged three of my posts to be “writing”, I guess that makes me a “writer”.

    Oops. May be time to fine-tune the self-definition. 😉

    • Linda, there’s not one iota of doubt in my mind that you are a writer. Your posts are not only beautifully written, but thoughtful and well informed.

      I like this comment: “Once we accept those titles, we have the responsibility to do something with them.” Thank you for extending my thoughts with that very insightful concept 🙂

  6. Well, Becca, there’s not “one iota of doubt” in my mind that you and Linda are a writers.

    I write but I’m not sure I would call myself a writer. Linda’s comment about taking responsibility is one of the reasons I take pause about owning that title. I enjoy playing at it but seldom give it my full effort. You and Linda, however, are thoughtful and creative writers. I enjoy both of you very much.

    I love that Jeannie mentioned her photography. I enjoy her photos. She reminded me that I enjoy photography, too. I didn’t even think of that when you posed your question, What kind of artist are you? Perhaps I should give this all a little more thought.

    • I do thank you, Bella, for those kind and supportive words. I’m not always SO sure, but sometimes I talk big. And yes, I definitely count you as one of my writer friends. Your words have made me laugh, inspired me, and brought me to tears. If that’s not the mark of a writer, I don’t know what is.

      You should check out the site I linked to ….she has all kinds of “I am a…” buttons. I bet there are several that suit you.

  7. I used to sit and write over and over, “I am a writer.” I thought that if I did it enough, I would eventually believe it. But instead, I kept using those papers as firestarter, too afraid to ever let anyone see such unseemly bravado.
    And then? One day someone said to me, if you write, you must be a writer. They were right. It was the truth. And suddenly it seemed effortless to say, “I am a writer.”
    Finding my voice was my first step to finding myself. I write to find out what I think.
    Thanks for this post and for all your writing 🙂
    Colleen Friesen

    • “I write to find out what I think.” That’s absolutely true…I say I write to make sense of life in general. There’s something about the process of putting words on paper that helps organize and clarify my thoughts and feelings. I don’t think that works for everyone, but it’s a great process for writers like us 🙂

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