A student says to me, “I am not an artist.”

Immediately I reply, “Of course you are an artist. You are making art right?”

How is it so easy for me to claim to other people, “of course you are an artist”—those who paint at night after working in finance all day, those who create bejeweled papier-mâché shrines instead of art sanctioned by the all-knowing “art world,” those who sketch or paint their notes in Zoom meetings?”

Of course, you are an artist.”

But not me. Of course, I am not an artist.

I’m not good enough.

I’m not creative enough.

I can’t draw well enough.

I don’t have enough ideas.

No one wants to see, let alone buy, what I have to make.

As a child, I was obsessed with making art, but somewhere along the way, I leaned only into experiencing art made by others rather than making my own. But my artmaking fizzled out as my college drawing professor gave me a B while exclaiming I was the hardest working, most committed student in the class.

This led me to believe that I was just not good enough to be an artist. I would panic in art classes for fear of judgment. Yes I had some talent, yes I could make a beautiful backdrop to your school production, but I will not call myself an artist. I will not let myself fail in front of “big A” Artists.

I’ve spent the last year dealing with my resistance and working to set down that heavy baggage that “the art world” laid at my feet.

I am reclaiming ARTIST. I am redefining what it means for me.

With artist as my 2023 word of the year, I am looking at all that I do through the lens of ARTIST this year.

How might my business look when it is run as a work of art?

How might I become more present and more attentive in my everyday life?

How might the meals that come out of my kitchen taste with the word artist attached to them?

How might my writing more accurately capture the essence I want to communicate?

How might my perfectionism soften with the experimentation, practice, and willingness to fail of an artist?

How will what I create be infused with new life and energy?

I can’t wait to discover the answers to these questions as 2023 unfolds.

How do you define what it means to be an artist?