What is an Artist?: Searching for Answers

Today’s blog is a collection of musings on what it really means to be an artist to some people. I have been hearing many talented individuals – most certainly considered artists by other individuals – say that they do not think of themselves as artist, and this made me wonder whether I could call myself an artist or not. What these responses show is that everyone’s opinion of what constitutes an artist tends to differ, and so it may very well be that some would classify me as an artist, whilst others would not.

Perhaps in the past, it was easy to categorize an artist as a creative individual who showed a promising amount of skill and good command over his/her subject, but nowadays there seems to be less of a clear distinction. There is no longer need for an individual to obtain good understanding over anatomy, or practice endless amounts of still-life drawings to grasp the nature of light and the way it interacts with objects in order to be considered an artist. Nowadays, an artist does not need to know how to draw, and is not required to put in the leg-work for the work he/she calls his own. So as unclear as some of us feel this definition has become, here are a few thoughts from my lecturers and other wonderful people I have had the pleasure of asking. Are there any ones you might agree, or disagree, with?

What is an artist?


Somebody that engages with the world on an artistic level, has an appreciation of aesthetics, either consciously or subconsciously, and chooses to use that to engage in expression.

– Darren Capp, Designer and musician


An artist brings new language to the table, the artist is a rebel; a divergent thinker who questions the very essence/system of things and happenings. An artist may be silent, his very thoughts and perspectives may shape change through action. An artist is overly aware, overwhelmed and subject to change as change is inevitable. An artist may soon be the only ‘occupation’ left for man, given the rise of autonomous robotics and AI.

– Kane Cali, 3D artist


For me an artist is someone who makes art; a creator, maker, thinker. What is art is not up to me to decide.

I’d like to think that anyone can be an artist, but I still don’t like calling those people who don’t fit my bill of an ‘artist’, artists. I think the question would be what qualifies them to be called artists, and whether that is something you are called or call yourself. There is also the issue of art; there has to be something called art, for there to be an artist.
I would consider someone an artist, when their work is thoughtful, when they’re work can be analysed, when there’s multiple layers of thought imbued with an artwork or a body of work. It would be art that tackles issues, provoke new outlooks, perspectives, or breathes new life into something. Aesthetics are important, but so is the thought, the fusion of the material with the immaterial intellectualism. The one who did it best was Duchamp (he started it all), and perhaps I hold his sentiments too.
Isaac Azzopardi, aspiring artist, historian, critic and writer


As much as I would love to call myself an artist, I would not even dare to do so. I find the title of an artist to be so prestigious. But unfortunately, I see this title being exploited and misused, to the point where one starts being skeptical when one meets persons who calls themselves artists. For example, in my main profession of graphic design, one finds quite a large number of people who, just because they have got their hands on Adobe Photoshop, then they feel that they qualify as graphic designers. In my opinion the same thing happens with artists. In Art unfortunately I see a lot of people who call themselves artists, when in reality they are only producing what I like to call “lazy art”. An artist has the power to convey a message to a large number of people using different Media. I always like to quote the example that if a person had to go in public and start talking on issues that concern them, or narrate stories that move them, then such individuals may be perceived as a nuisance to the public. But if the same message, or narrative is conveyed through the beautiful medium of art, then people are more likely to stop and listen, and maybe even relate. I see art as a powerful way of communication, a method of exploring one’s soul and express it through visual or sound. But I see too much alleged art that is nothing more than just marks on a canvas, with no motif whatsoever, and even worse, with no sense of skill. Skill: another important key element that an artist must carry, but so many self-proclaimed artists do not carry any.

For all I know it might be the kind of “art” that I just do not relate to, but for me, unless the artistic piece has a concept, or a message, or at least a technological, visual or audio experiment and experience, then I tend to wonder whether this is art, or just people trying to make money out of nothing: the kind of abstract drawings people get through mass production to fill the walls in buildings. I love art, I love art that is done well, that has skill, the kind that moves me emotionally. I love seeing the signature of an artist through his work, through the skills portrayed in the work, through the messages and narrative that the artist portrays, being able to interact, and almost have a conversation with the artist just by interacting with his work.

– Francantonio Domenico Cuschieri, Graphic Designer


Defining art is problematic so consequentially defining an artist is equally difficult. If pushed to define then I think that the best I could do is define the artist as a masterful creative decision taker.

– Dr. Martina Caruana, Art historian


I believe an artist is someone who gets excited by little things, is constantly looking to and wanting to explore the unexplored, to later feed into his/her need to create. I also believe the real artist manages to create work which in its very essence is humble and honest, making the work valid, valuable, worthy etc… I guess this discussion can be never ending.

– Carmen Aquilina, Visual artist


The difference between art and craft is the intent to tell a story. The difference between owning a camera and being a photographer, is the seriousness of the pursuit of the craft. The difference between a photographer and an artist using the medium of photography is the importance of the story rather than the technical execution.

– Edward Fielding, Photographer

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