A few years ago, I would have said, absolutely not. You need skill, practice, training. You need to have been born an artist. You need to be tortured, abstract, a little weird. You need to have a fire inside that burns so bright for your art that material possessions mean nothing to you. You need to be able to see that weird squiggle on a canvas at your local art museum and peer at it for hours in wonder and admiration.
Then I met my Fine Arts graduate girlfriend, professional tattoo artist and genuine sells-her-art-for-money artist.
And it confirmed all my suspicions.
When trying to educate me about the world of art she showed me her books of Henry Matisse and Joan Miró. She gazed at the pages, talking about the impact these artists had had on her work at university and asked me which painting was my favourite.
I thought about lying, just choosing a random painting, smiling and saying, this one´s amazing! But I didn´t. I looked at her and shook my head. None. Sorry. I just don´t get it.
Fast forward a year and my mum sent me a book for my birthday. The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse. By Charlie Mackesy. I fell in love with this book, with his art. It tells the story of 4 little creatures who wonder through the wilderness and become friends. It´s a reflection on life and friendship and love. It´s a collection of art with a commentary and with a direction.
I decided that I wanted my book of poetry to be similar. I wanted to illustrate them, to have a book full of colours and art to accompany my lines and stanzas.
I visited my nearest bookstore and started pulling out other books of this genre. Not necessarily poetry, although some were, but illustrated, adult books.
Expensive books, books that I couldn´t download on my black and white kindle.
I spent months following all the artists on Instagram, choosing which book I would eventually splash out on and settled on a book that spoke to me very personally. Habitar Mi Cuerpo. Or in English something like… Inhabit my body. Although I think the word Habitar in spanish connotes warmth and life more than the English word, inhabit, does. It is a reflection on the path the author took in loving her body. Another illustrator that I love is Maria Hesse. Her book, Pleasure, will be my next purchase.
Inspired by these artists that, finally, I felt a connection with and truly enjoyed their work, I decided to try and make my own artwork to go with my poems.
I started sketching in a random notebook and realised that even though I have absolutely no ability to make my hand draw what my inner eye sees, I was actually quite creative and was thinking of some interesting ideas.
I borrowed my girlfriends graphic design tablet and started turning these awful sketches into actual colours and shapes and found that what I´d created was not actually half bad. In fact, I quite liked them and I felt they represented the messages and stories I tell in each poem.
So does that make me an artist? I suppose it does, in a way. The beauty of art is that it´s subjective so if only one person enjoys it, well then it´s valid. And if I can do it, anyone can do it.
So the answer is, yes, anyone can be an artist. All you need is the means and the desire.
But can anyone be a vocationally and materially successful artist? Well, that´s another question which doesn´t need an essay because the answer is unequivocally no.
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