Born with it or Learned it at School: is Everyone an Artist?

Four You Gallery
October 9, 2021| Christine

We’ve all heard the phrase “art is subjective”. And as the definition of art explains, art is simply an expression of the artist’s innermost thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Knowing that, it begs the question, “is everyone an artist?”. Even though some people dedicate endless time, money and energy into their art education, a lot of their artwork never sees the light of day or is undervalued or harshly judged. While there are others whose pieces become a worldwide success for reasons like exposure that a certain piece has garnered or the impact of societal norms at the time. The quote “everyone is an artist” by Joseph Beuys summarizes the consensus on this debate but there’s more to it than that because in this context, the word “art” is not defined in its traditional sense like a painter or sculptor, but rather in the essence of being human, which is evident in our need to create, not matter what that looks like.

Joseph Beuys Homogenous Infiltration for Grand Piano, 1966

Speaking specifically about the art industry, it’s been proven time and time again that having a formal art education does not a successful artist make! Attending art school is not a one-way ticket to the title of “artist”. Children, whether they pursue it in adulthood or not, show their artistic tendencies when they’re given a paper and crayon. People have been creating art – still speaking about the traditional definition of art like paintings – since the beginning of time, with no education in techniques, theory, or materials. They used what was at their disposal and some went on to create some of the most famous pieces of art in history. Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most influential artists of the modern era, was self-taught! His entry into the industry was a result of his brother encouraging him to pursue art after seeing some of his sketches.

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889

Going back to Joseph Beuys’ quote “everyone is an artist”, when looking at it from the viewpoint of creativity and the human experience, everyone IS an artist. Everyone is creative in their own way and their own domain, once we remove the limitations on the definition of art. “Artistry is an internal drive and vision. It is a drive that propels the artist to create, and it is a vision that shows the artist what kind of an effect to seek. “– Michael Fassbender. Today, art can be anything we want it to be; a model may refer to her pose in a magazine as art, a tattoo is seen as art with a person’s skin as the canvas and an actor refers to their work in theater as art. “It doesn’t matter what your means of expression are – being an artist means being creative in whatever way is available for and feels natural to you.” – Varian Viciss. So, is everyone an artist? I believe so!

Damilola Onosowobo-Untitled I, 2021-Oil on canvas-122 x 122 cm

The fact remains that some people are simply exposed to different resources in their lives and while that may be true, the world we live in today is unprecedented in its accessibility and availability of almost everything to almost everyone. While there are different classes of artists and collectors alike, the main purpose of art is its applicability to anyone with an interest in it. So, is art for everyone? To each their own taste!

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