What Do You Call Yourself?

In a recent public conversation at the Denver Art Museum, artist Nick Cave said he calls himself a “messenger” when pressed.

He was dubious of titles – even the title “artist.”

He said: “Everyone else gives you titles. I recommend you don’t give yourself one.”

Deep Thought Thursday

Are titles necessary?

Are titles limiting?

Do you have a title for yourself? Like, when someone asks you what you do, do you say “I’m a(n) . . . ”

Do you have more than 1 title?

Tell us!

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70 comments to What Do You Call Yourself?

  • I’ve finally decided: I am a painter! Although I’m also an artist, “painter” feels more accurate. It’s more about doing the work of making an art. And it does take work, time spent in the studio. Being a successful artist requires a lot of actual “doing” rather than just “being” an artist. Staying focused on the action of painting is important and keeps me focused.

  • I have also called myself a painter, but then I was mistaken for a house painter! I am getting used to the title of artist since it’s the title I’m given by other people, but I still sometimes internally flinch when I give it to myself. Of course this is due to other people who state that a person is presumptious who calls themself an artist. Afterall, it’s just a job title like any other.

  • Vered Galor

    Theresa, after many years of working in the art field in different capacities and hearing all the argument for and against calling oneself an artist, I can say that if you feel as an artist call yourself an ARTIST with pride.

    I strongly believe that being an artist is a calling and you create because you can and need to. What you call yourself really does not matter at the end, does it.

    However, you do kind of, need to give an answer when asked what do you do, don’t’ you. I answer, “I am an artist” and if the person is interested to know more and ask “what kind of art do you do”, I explain, as short and as clear as I can, I do photographic digital collages, right now.

    I give an answer, but leave the it open!

  • I am a creator : Painter, digital artist, writer, illustrator, teacher.

  • My day job that pays the bills is not “Artist.” I work at that job between 40-45 hours a week. For 18 years I have been known by that job title. But in my heart I am an artist. Frankly, that is all I want to do and that is my core being. I justified calling myself an artist because there are 168 hours in a week. If I spend 45 of those hours doing my “day job”, that leaves me with 123 other hours in the week where I get to be who I really am…an ARTIST! I may not spend all of those hours creating art or working my art business…but percentage-wise…my day job is only 25% of who I really am…and even when I do that job I use creative approaches to solve problems. SO…definitely ARTIST….and since people expect us to be interresting, I am working on letting that light shine, too! As a result, my art and my confidence are gradually improving!

  • […] this question helps you go beyond the title “Artist” (or whatever you call yourself) and get to the heart of what makes you […]

  • […] through the art itself. I like the self-title of cultural provocateur. Recently Alyson Stanfield blogged about what we artists call ourselves. Until the end of April, I stilled identified with my day job […]

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