I hear a lot of discussion about when you are Really An Artist. You are not an artist, some people say, until you have been paid for your work. Others say you are not really a painter, writer, actor or whatever your discipline might be until you are making a living off of your art.
I believe there isn’t a single moment when you become an artist. I believe that you become an artist many times, and it is only when you look back that you can see when you became an artist. You continually become an artist. You are always becoming an artist. It is a journey, not a destination.
I became a photographer when I picked up a camera and took my first photograph of my face in the mirror. If I had put the camera down and never picked it up again, that wouldn’t have been true, but I became a photographer then because I continued to take my camera with me to photograph what I saw.
I became a photographer again when I took my first book cover photo, and thought about composition, paring words with the photo, how to illustrate what was inside.
I became a photographer when I did my 365 days project, when I took a self portrait every day for 365
days, and at the end of that project, I was a different person, a different artist, than when I started.
I became a photographer when I ran towards the fire.
I became a photographer this year, when I knelt before the sunrise, staring up into the silver lightning, sleep deprived and shaken, and I knew that to kneel before the dawn holding the instrument of my art was making a promise before an expanding universe that I would be an artist. If you are a photographer long enough, chances are that you will find yourself before the sunrise.
If I work hard, and I am lucky, I will become an artist again, and again, until my heart stops.
You never became an artist. You always were an artist.
An artist is something you are becoming, it is a journey, endless, until you, yourself, are ended.