Danielle Krysa says that my inner critic is a big jerk, and also that I have every right to call myself an Artist with a capital A.
Artist. Not to be confused with artist. If I tell you my friend is an Artist you assume she makes her living off of her Art, but if I tell you my friend is an artist you assume he is someone who dabbles. There’s probably a faltering Etsy shop in there somewhere.
Krysa urges her readers to toss all those distinctions out the window and allow the title to be self-administered and self-validated. I liked the idea enough on a conceptual level, but I struggled with the implementation. Making a Pinterest board called “Artist” and practicing my elevator pitch for cocktail parties (“Oh hello, what do you do?”. “I’m an Artist, please note I am using a capital A in that word even though I don’t have anything further to say to back it up.”) felt rather empty.
Until I attended Photo Native in Utah last month, and heard John Keatley telling the room to develop a laser focus on mastery over versatility. He said, “No one is going to expect something from you that they haven’t already seen.”
Or it could have been Shawn Theodore. His intense, personal devotion to storytelling and narrative moved me to tears. He’s worked for a decade to develop his legacy and portfolio as an Artist, a title he didn’t sit around waiting for someone else to apply to him. Her urged us to think about our own stories, “Proximity is the difference between a portrait and an intimate portrait.”
For years I’ve had a note in Evernote where I’ve been painstakingly collecting concepts/ideas for photography projects. Attempts to extract nouveau artistic interpretations from whatever I was mulling over of late. Ideas that would often be overwritten as I looked back through and couldn’t recognize myself in them.
Since Photo Native the length of that project list has snowballed. It’s time for me to start sorting ideas by priority and urgency because some things are time-sensitive. Stories about where I came from, who I came from, telling the story that weaves the tapestry of who I am. I’ve been working to understand it since I read Krysa’s book, what it means to wear the title of Artist with equal measures of pride and nonchalance. Like it belongs to me.
By telling the stories that belong to me. That’s how.