What Does It Actually Mean To Be An “Artist?”

Is an artist only the person who paints, plays an instrument, cooks or writes? An artist produces beauty by being apt in a certain skill. Living skilfully is living as an artist, and usually this action only operates for a few hours of the day. These few hours contradict the rest of living, in which there is monotony, disorder, conformity or conflict. So is this really an artist?

A man who plays the guitar but keeps his eye on fame isn’t interested in his music, only exploiting this talent to be famous. The “me” becomes far more important than the music, and so it is with the painter or writer with their eye on money or status. These people are skilled in their particular fields, but it’s the rest of the vast field of life, which is disregarded.

So how does one live a life of skill and beauty? Living is action, just as playing an instrument is, sculpting, weaving or writing. When this action breeds sorrow, friction, jealousy, greed or conflict it ceases to be skilful.

So the question is not who is an artist, but can every person live a life of artistry, of beauty?

We can’t just cultivate a small corner of a huge field, and seek to escape to this small corner for our beauty and joy. We’re concerned with the whole field of life.

Artistry is to be completely awake, and skilful in the entire field of life. Any kind of job can breed artistry – what matters is if you’re awake. Are you awakened only by circumstances? By challenges, planned weekends, playing an instrument, meeting friends? If you’re awakened by an event – a cause – then you become dependant on it. And when you’re dependant on something you are allowing yourself to be put to sleep. So dependence is the end of skill, of artistry.

Love is the only thing that is causeless, that is free. It is beauty, skill, art. Without love there is no art. When the artist is playing beautifully there is no “me”. Skill in action is the absence of the “me”, the ego. Art is the absence of the “me”. The absence of the “me” in living is unconditional love, and beauty, and creation, which is living skilfully in the whole field of life.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 8 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

  1. “We can’t just cultivate a small corner of a huge field, and seek to escape to this small corner for our beauty and joy. We’re concerned with the whole field of life.
    Artistry is to be completely awake, and skillful in the entire field of life.” (Spelling corrected!)

    I am sorry Andrew, I do not agree.

    We can choose do anything we want. We can find art in nature, art in the way weeds grow, the way broom bushes take over that field of yours. We can find artistry in the work of birds, who tear that field apart to build their nests.

    We can escape to this tiny corner of this field, and enjoy what we have contributed to.. Of course we can.

    Artistry has nothing to do with being awake. It is simply finding pleasure in being creative.

    If others feel comfortable with paying an artist to interact with him or her, to take pleasure from their work, how does this become less artful to the observer, who doesn’t share in the monetary reimbursement for the work?
    Even if the “artist” is focused on making a profit from his/her work, more so than taking pleasure in the work, it does not affect the ability to enjoy, judge, interact with, or even detest the end result. This would ultimately lie with the individual observer. Perhaps the driving force to this artistic talent is the hopes to engage in larger, more intricate and expensive work. The hope is the financial return will allow this work to enlarge or expand.
    Hmm…this is now starting to sound like capitalism!

    No matter the pennies paid, or the millions invested, beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.


    1. G’day Kev,

      I don’t know if ya had a peak at my bio, but wouldn’t it be boring if we all just agreed with each other. I can’t speak in absolutes, i just find it nice to open up different avenues of thinking.

  2. To me, an artist is a necessarily conscious being who objectifies his subjectivity. Plain and simple. No more, no less.

  3. Dear Kev, I think you misunderstood, or misread, Andrrew Barker’s brief article about art.
    Great artists become great in spite of money success. Mediocre art is often very profitable, but it won’t stand the test of time. Great artists will do their work even if means living in poverty. Fame and fortunune seeking artists will mak a lot of noise, and after they’re gone, so is their art. By extension, any society that measures it’s greatness in terms of money and material success, is bound to end up sooner, rather than later, in the forgotten shelves of history. Rome’s poitical ideology, prosperity and military might long ago bit the dust, but the architecture, literature and sculpture remains. The number of ancient great empires that made war and conquest their primary purpose, often their only purpose, left us nothing but shock and horror, take a look at Attila or Genghis Khan, and hundreds others all over the globe.

    1. A bad example,Franco, using Romes political ideology as a reference, as it is alive and well today. Perhaps you have heard of The Club of Rome? How about the Holy Roman Empire, also well entrenched in today’s political structures and ideologies?
      Look at the Spinx, or the Great Pyramid. Was this art, a homage to their gods, or scientific in nature?
      Also, who defines “mediocre art”? You? Or your grade school children, doing their best to express who they are or how they feel?
      Who built the greatest artistic monuments known to man? Who designed them? The names are long forgotten, while their monuments stand the test of time.
      Even great painters such as Leonardo da Vinci were paid for their work. Thee decided that they could be artists, and not live in poverty, as many of the good ones could make a living, doing what they love.
      Also, Mongolian fine art has a rich history and reflects the people’s life and labor. Fine art is one of the origins of any nation’s culture. It is an aesthetic reflection of human emotions, imagination, artwork and handicraft.

      This idea, that true artists live for their art and need to forego all other earthly desires is nonsense. If you call yourself an artist, and others don’t, good for you. You are what you feel you are. Perhaps you just aren’t being appreciated. Perhaps you are ahead of your time. Or perhaps, just maybe, you aren’t as good as you think you are.
      Even so, people not interested in fame, fortune or wealth through their artistic endevours, a good example is Banksy, will carve out an entirely new niche in today’s all consuming popular culture. Doing this nowadays is uniquely artistic, all on it’s own. A statement of poetic injustice really. True. Art. Period.
      No, I didn’t misunderstand, friend. I merely expanded on one narrow minded viewpoint.
      Art is in a way a leaf blows. Art is in a way a weed grows. Art is in the clouds. Art is the way a Marlin walks on it’s tail. Art is what we see, feel and breath.
      Art is in the eye of the beholder, Franco.

      Otherwise, it is all just noise.

      1. I commend you for your eloquence! 🙂 <3 (that's my heart, not my boobs or my testi's–we have to amuse ourselves somehow lol)

        Before I continue, this message is directed more so towards Franco and the author of the article than you, if it is directed at anybody at all, as you seem to already possess an understanding of truth, of the truth of the matter: of what actually constitutes art; hence your eloquence.

        Art is essentially the objectification of one's subjectivity. Thus, if it can be or rather is expressed, it's art. Anything and everything of the objective world, ultimately, is art. Life is art. Expressions of impressions. Some understand this. Some do not.

        Beauty is another matter altogether. Whether art is good or bad–beautiful or not–is matter of personal preference. Some choose to acknowledge bliss in their life, while others attend to atrocities. As the individual who referred to himself as Shakespeare once proclaimed, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Oh the eloquence of truth!

        Being is a beginningless and endless roller coaster ride to depths and heights that are scaled but cannot be graphed or measured.

        Thank you for expressing yourself and sharing your understanding of the art called life.

  4. Can anyone tell what the painting is called that is used as the picture for this article on Facebook? It is stunning and I would like to see more.

    1. Yes, it’s an incredibly great picture, and I have some ideas as to what it means beneath the surface. I woudn’t mind having a poster size copy of it, if I could get one.

  5. Hi Andrew,
    I am open to your viewpoint, even if I don’t agree entirely. Knowing several people with different levels of obsessive behavior, I fully understand and appreciate the ability to observe, discern and interpret different evaluations out of the same event. We all have our unique perspective, don’t we?
    It is this uniqueness that allows us to appreciate different things in different ways, without absolutes.
    Yes indeed!

    Cheers Andrew..

  6. Interesting article! especially the last paragraph which i feel i understand! And as its not me! “Art is the absence of the “me”.” feel a credit to the artist would be a beautiful thing to do, also noting that people have requested prints!!

Comments are closed.

Related Posts