Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From Barb's Mail Bag - A Professional Artist?

The following is a question I get quite often, followed by the answer I give just as often.

It isn't so much that people are wondering if they are supposed to be artists, as they are wondering if I can make it easier for them to pursue a professional artist's life. I can't. And according to JPII, we shouldn't want to. It is the sacrifice of the artist's life - its brain-wrackingness, its plenitude of rejection, its isolation, its instability, etc. - that makes the artist's life a way to holiness. For them and their work. And then us through their work.

But, anyway, here is the latest permutation of this question and answer...


Dear Ms. Nicolosi:

[Extravagant praise for Barb and Act One deleted in humility.]

I have been wondering lately how I know if I am an artist. How can I know?

M, in Minneapolis

Dear M:

Everyone should be an artist at something. John Paul II said we are all called to be the artists of our own lives - making our lives a masterpiece.

Artistic talent, however, usually shows up early. What is it that you were better at in kindergarten than all the other kids? These things aren't subtle. You could sing or draw or dance or act or write better than everybody else in your class. And you liked doing it. Or else you couldn't and didn't.

But I think you are wondering about whether you might be called to be a professional artist. A professional artist is one who has a heightened level of natural talent in some area, and has been rigorously trained. So the sign of a professional is that he or she can summon their craft to serve their will as needed. You know you have enough talent to be a professional artist if the work that you have done routinely elicits emotional responses in people. Powerful ones. Ones that people are willing to pay for.

Hope that helps. Good luck to you and God bless -


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