Distinguishing between an artist and a painter
Sometime back when someone said, “I am a painter”, we easily understood what was being said. But somewhere along the line, that declaration became insufficient for people who needed to express what they actually did which, namely, is “create art”.
Or maybe a need was felt for a different title other than that one also shared by someone who painted walls, doors and windows. Going back to Picasso, apparently he did not have a problem with being called a painter.
Having said that, all painters are not artists and all artists are not painters. Artist is actually a loose term that can be freely applied across some form of arts and yes, even crafts. The argument about differentiation between art and craft is another one of the ages. The factors that distinguish between an artist and an artisan are fading in the current times and really anyone is allowed to be an artist in their respective field.
Read more about the artist vs artisan debate here.
So why aren't all painters artists? Artists see themselves as people who create fine art. Fine art is typically non-functional and created mainly for the sake of expression and creativity.
Carrying the banner of an artist has its own set of demands. If a painter wants to call himself an artist he is telling the world that he is creating original and inspired works of art that bear the distinct impression and style of the artist himself/herself. In many cases he is also trying to make a statement, convey a message, feeling or an idea.
It is important for an artist to be able to distinguish himself from others in the same field of exhibition or performance. Distinction and originality are two of the most important things that people look for in any artist. If you are not doing this then you can well be described as a ‘painter’ only.
The reason why one should work to establish themselves as an artist, regardless of the medium of work, is that the economics work much better for you. It is perhaps the only way you are going to get your worth in the art and craft scenario.
Apart from creating original and distinct work, establishing oneself as an artist also has a lot to do with branding. As frivolous as it may sound, people do buy into brand image all the time. And just like It is with all of the things, it is also true with a art.
Some would even say that art is excessively vulnerable to the image of the artist. The sad truth is that most people buying art do not buy it because of their ability to appreciate it. They buy it for it’s decorative purposes, including the old masters who often sell for the bragging rights.
I personally couldn't care less if you call yourself a painter or an artist. Many times people choose to call themselves the latter because they do more than one thing.
It’s doesn’t make much sense to have reservations about calling yourself a painter if you paint. The term artist is very commonly used for musicians, dancers and, sparingly, for actors as well. Heck, even makeup specialists call themselves makeup ‘artists’.
Using the word artist does not tell the other person about your specific vocation. You do not want to make your introductions like “ Hi, I am Clarence. I am an artist, who paints”…
It's not so much about what you call yourself, It's more about what you do. It’s more important to work like an artist. Create the body of work that captures and rivets people attention. Be the one who stands out from amongst your fellowmen. Make your mark on the art world. Those are things that an artist does.