What does it mean to be an Artist?

I was 14 or so, the day me and my sisters left the house, eager to visit the International Fair. It was our tradition. Every November, the international Fair would come to El Salvador, bringing all the new and exciting products from all over the world. Food, clothing, electronics etc.  We could never afford to buy anything, but we loved visiting all the booths, exploring the new and exciting merchandise. 

We were making our way in through the crowds of people, when suddenly something caught my eye. Right at the entrance, there was a man sitting on a table, doing something with colors. The colors and whatever he was doing looked amazing from far. I asked my sisters to check that out first. It was Pantone’s booth. The man was giving a color demonstration with an airbrush. There was color everywhere! On the table, on the floor, on his clothes. I was stunned! I had never seen an adult making a mess and having so much fun! I remember this feeling waking up in my heart: I want to play with colors too! 

I am not sure at what point I lost my sisters. I was suddenly on my own, watching this man airbrushing the colors on a cardboard. After I while, I decided to catchup with them and started walking. But right  next to the Pantone booth, there was another booth, filled with pictures. A gallery with samples of the things Artist had done with the Pantone colors. That was it. I don’t remember anything else about that fair. I didn’t look for my sisters either. I stayed there, in that gallery looking at every single painting on the wall, feeling my heart waking and vibrating, I was so deeply moved, tears were coming out of my eyes. I had never seen anything so beautiful. I was paralyzed. 

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about the colors and the paintings I’ve seen. Confused of what it meant. Why was my heart pounding so hard? What was the meaning of this sudden excitement?  

I was 16 years old, the day I walked into my father’s bedroom and told him: “Dad, I don’t want to be in the circus anymore. I want to be an Artist”.  The revelation was not as easy as it sounds, but I will tell that story another time.  

I knew then, that I all I wanted to do was to be an Artist. I had zero interest for anything else. But how do you become an Artist? 

Going to Art School, was not an option for me. My country was at war. Artist and intellectuals were being persecuted and murdered. (Google it, if you want to know more). So what do I need to do in order to become an Artist?    

One day, I picked up a pencil and a piece of paper and started drawing some empty bottles. I made lots of drawings of random objects I found around the house. I remember my dad pointing out that I did have a talent for drawing. His words filled me with so much confidence that I decided to try drawing  people. I picked up a National Geographic magazine, and found the most beautiful picture of these two African kids. I found a large piece of paper and started drawing the kids. I was so into it! I was singing, I was happy, I was enjoying every moment of it. When I was finally done, drawing and shadowing every detail I could of the picture, it was already morning. I had literally stayed up all night drawing. I went to bed suddenly feeling very tired, and left my drawing on the dining room table. 

An hour or so later, I was awakened by the distant voice of my father telling the rest of the family : This is an amazing drawing! She really is an Artist!  

That was it!! I hadn’t gone to Art school, showed in any galleries or had any training. But I knew then, that in order to become an Artist, all I needed was to be an Artist. 

I called myself an Artist after that.  Every one I met, everywhere I went I introduced myself as Artist. Some people laughed! Specially other artists, who think that being an Artist means, to have proper school training, shows and recognition and I didn’t have any of that. But I did have a huge amount of artwork! Because once I accepted myself as an Artist I did no stop making art. Was I a good artist or a bad artist? That was irrelevant! I am just an Artist because I make art.

To be an Artist, means to make art, and if you are engaged with the moment and connected to the creative forces of the universe, than you are a good  Artist, regardless of the result or what other people think of your work. 

You become an Artist by being an Artist! That’s all!