What It Means to be an Artist

If I asked you to think of an artist, who might you think of?

A painter in a stained smock? A saxophonist, screenwriter, street performer, poet?

And if I asked you what an artist does, how might you respond?

They create, put something into the world that wasn’t there before, live on beans and rice and hope?

But what if I asked you what it means to be an artist? What might you say?

An answer I love comes from actress Viola Davis: “The impact of what it means to be an artist…is to make us feel less alone.”

Great art looks us right in the soul and says, “Me too.” It turns on the light and shows us we weren’t the only ones sitting in the darkness thinking those thoughts, feeling those feelings.

And I believe we become artists whenever we step out of the crowd and stand alongside someone who is alone.

So, now, if I asked you to think of an artist, who might you say?

Kind people? Brave, big-spirited people?

Or, perhaps you’d say what is true, but only if we make it so: any one of us.

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