In order to start treating being an artist more like a job and less like some precious ritual, an alternative lifestyle that non-artists don’t understand, I have done a lot of reading about how people throughout history have defined art and artists.
For hundreds of years, there has been contentious discussion about who can be called an artist. For example, for many years potters, weavers, carpenters, and sculptors of religious or ritual statuary were not considered artists because what they made was useful: if I can drink out of it, carry things in it, or wield it in some way, then it is not art but a tool.
On the other hand, the term artist has always been connected to the magical—the creation of something from within, like a poem or a melody, or the transformation of one substance to another more valuable one (alchemists were known as artists). Based on this definition, up until the Renaissance, painting was not recognized as one of the arts because it was seen as merely decorative—used to adorn and gild, rather than as a medium for the creation of something new.
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