Go ahead, call yourself an artist

Give yourself the credit you deserve.

Kathryn Schultz

When I was younger, I practiced sketching. Almost always, I drew faces. They usually turned out oddly-proportioned and cartoonish, like some reject “Hey Arnold!” character. Whenever my drawings didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, I got frustrated and scribbled them out or crumpled them up.

For my age, my drawings really weren’t that awful. I was learning, but I just wanted to skip ahead to the part where I was a 12-year-old Van Gogh.

As I got older, I avoided drawing anything that qualified as more than a doodle at all costs for fear of it not turning out the way I wanted it to. I got very good at drawing tiny cartoon pizza slices during this time.

Now, as an evolved and uninhibited college gal, I’m making an effort to be kinder to myself. I’m allowing myself to take art classes. My previous two years of college, I felt somehow undeserving of enrolling in them, even though they interested me.

Once I enrolled, I realized that my work didn’t stand significantly below that of my peers. After years of avoiding drawing, It still takes me a while to work up to sketching something and getting it the way I want it to look, but I usually do in the end.

Recently, someone asked me if I was an artist. I was taken aback. Am I an artist? I embroider, sure. I generally killed it in my printmaking class, fine. I can whip up a dope collage, alright. But an “artist?” Whoa, there, buddy. Take it easy.

I tend to have a similar approach to my major. When a well-intentioned adult asks what I study, I tend to mumble “Studies in Cinema and Media Culture” too quickly for them to catch it the first time. Once they finally get the message, they furrow their brow as if working out a complicated math problem.

“So, what jobs do you get with a major like that,” they ask, and my insides collectively tell me to abort the mission.

“I think I want to write for television,” I basically whisper, before turning into a passive piece of dust, floating away in a gentle breeze.

I have already worked a job in my industry, I have plenty of backup options, I’m interested in what I’m studying, and yet I feel the need to downplay my ambitions to strangers, for fear of judgment.

This is a bad approach to life, and frankly, I’m over it. There must be tons of people who call themselves artists who are straight garbage. Why should I — someone who likes to make art — hesitate to refer to herself as an artist? Likewise, why should I fear explaining my major if I’m already set on my path?

Chances are if you’re truly interested in what you’re doing, you’re alright. You don’t need to immediately be the Michael Jordan of whatever it is you do. If you’re doing the damn thing, you’ve already earned the title.