What does it mean to be an artist?

It’s a question I broached with a friend of mine this past week who is an artist herself. She’s quite the talented painter. I was curious if she saw things the same way. She seemed to but, admittedly, it’s hard to get in a word when I reel off about artistry. I think about it far too often, over-analyzing every minute detail.

But maybe that’s part of being artistic.

Whether you write or paint or dance or play music or woodwork or do anything creative in life, it all breaks down to the same core essence: expression. And there is a lot of fear and insecurity that come with any form of expression. Translating your inner-self, your soul, is difficult because the words are never right or the canvas is never big enough or the movement isn’t graceful. You’re bringing imperfection into the world; imperfection that is a deep part of you. There’s vulnerability in that.

But it needs to come out. That’s why we do it. It’s already inside; it just needs a path forward. In doing so you’re inviting other people into your world, most of whom won’t understand you, and they’re going to bring their own cynicisms and insecurities and issues along. And then questions are going to arise in your mind.

Is this good? Is this right? Am I saying what I want to say? Am I saying anything at all?

And there are no correct answers. There is no shortcut or quick pass. It’s all a journey into the unknown. And those are equal parts exciting and terrifying and mysterious and confusing and beautiful and horrible. And you always come out different on the other side. Every single time. It might be miniscule, but you are not exactly the same as when you started, for better or worse. Because a piece of you in now manifested in the physical reality. It’s still a part of you, but now others have access.

Something to think about as I gear up to tackle my next project.