• Todd Wolfe

Am I an Artist or Do I Make Art?

Updated: Aug 16

Stupid question? Maybe. Maybe not. In 1990 at the age of 20 I graduated from Genoa Academy with a diploma in furniture making and design. Like artists from many disciplines I graduated with the hopes and dreams of being an artist who could support themselves on their art. And like many of those same artists, other realities of life, like strained finances and a the blessings of a family, slowly crowded out those dreams.

31 years later in the summer of 2021, I made a choice that had been brewing in my head for a while. I was going to start seeing myself and referring to myself as an artist. I would “close” my workshop, and “open” it again as my studio. Although I was working part time as CFO for my family’s child care centers, I would not refer to myself as a CFO, but as an artist. This shift was significant for me. I saw this as a watershed moment in my life and a change in how I saw myself.

This decision, while significant, also came with a drawback. You see, in theory an artist makes art. They don’t think about art. They don’t sketch designs or ideas that they want to make. They don’t hope to do art. They actually make art.

I do realize that this is not the most insightful and intellectual statement that you will read today. But, the ramifications have been significant in my life. I realized that if I want to was going to call myself an artist, well there needed to be art coming out of my life. I had spent years wishing, imagining, and dreaming about being an artist. Calling myself an artist was not going to change any of that. The only thing that was going to change any of that is if art started flowing out of my life again. Not occasionally, but habitually.

So am I an artist or do I make art. Well, while it is possible to call yourself an artist and not make art, it is impossible to make art and not be an artist. So, I will choose to make art…that way the artist thing will always tag along.


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