How to know if you're an artist

I’m going to make two guesses about you. Ready?

1 |  I’m guessing that you are like most humans, in that you want to be happy.

You make choices based on what you think the results of those choices are going to bring you, which in broad terms we can equate with what you perceive to be happiness, in one form or another.

2  |  I’m also guessing that if you’re reading this you are not like most humans, in that you want to be an artist.

So essentially, we might say, you want to be a happy artist. 😉

And those two things might often seem at odds. That might feel like a huge oxymoron.

As someone with two decades of depression in her past, and a long journey to recovering her artist self, as well as an intimate long term relationship with the artistic process, I hear you.

Being an artist can come with a lot of ‘extra’ stuff, that doesn’t feel so great. For many of us it comes with a lot of doubt.

So let me ask you this.

Have you ever sat down and found out what you believe it means to be an artist?

Humour me here and try it.

Write down every thought that comes up when you ask yourself that question – what is an artist?

Set a timer for five minutes, and see what comes out.

I’ll wait right here. 😊

Typically the first thing that happens when you do this is all the negative stuff comes up first. All the reasons why you don’t get to use that term to describe yourself.

Here are a few examples of common ones:

  • Artists almost never make any money – only the really ‘lucky’ ones get to do that.
  • You have to have formal qualifications to be an artist.
  • You have to be confident all the time to be an artist.
  • Artists just make one thing and get known for that.
  • Artists have to have a studio to be ‘real’ artists.
  • You have to be good at drawing to be an artist.

Totally normal thoughts, and all completely wrong.

Let’s think of all that as the scum on the top of the pond.

Yes it’s there, we can see it, but there is another truth here, and that’s the clear pure water that lies underneath it.

When you’ve written out all the ‘scum’ thoughts, now try going a bit deeper.

You may have been telling yourself many of those things, consciously or unconsciously, for a long time, so at first it might feel like there isn’t anything else underneath, or that anything else can’t possibly apply to you.

I can promise you there is, and it can. Underneath all the cultural conditioning is you.

You’ve been there this whole time, pure as the day you came into this world. You just lost sight of yourself, and forgot how to hear your own voice for a while.

And that is so incredibly common; I’m not sure any of us completely escape it. You might say it’s actually part of the journey of a human, and its purpose is that we can use it for good in our lives.

Because you know what? You have a voice, and you know things.

You know what being an artist means to you. You know what an artist is, by your own definition.

What is your definition?

Let’s set the timer again and write it all down, however audacious or ‘unrealistic’ it feels. {That negative voice will still be there and may get louder; keep writing.}

I’ll be here when you get back. 😊

Here are some possible examples:

  • An artist is a human being who enjoys expressing themselves through their creativity.
  • An artist brings beauty to the world.
  • An artist is someone who makes art. {Shocking, right?!}
  • An artist is an artist even if they haven’t made any art for a while.
  • An artist doesn’t have to sell their work to be an artist.
  • An artist can express themselves in all sorts of different ways.

If you actually made the two lists, may I offer you a special artist high five. 👩🏼‍🎨  🙌🏼

Reading and thinking about it is easy, and largely ineffective; the shifts come in the taking action.

Now look at your two lists.

Can you see how the first one is made up of thoughts you’ve borrowed, absorbed, or otherwise taken on over the course of your life? Which, by the way, means none of them are really yours, so you don’t have to keep them!

{Unless you want them to be. Some of them might feel helpful. You have my permission to keep those!😉 }

And can you see how the second one feels different?

You may get a frisson of excitement when you read it, or feel a little daring. You might even feel a sense of relief, or ease and peace might start to flow in. {Truth tends to feel like that.}

That second list is your home base.

It’s your guiding light, that you can return to every day to remind you of what’s true for you, even when the noise of the outside world gets deafening.

You will almost certainly find yourself doubting your second list, especially on days when you’re feeling particularly fraudulent and crappy about your art.

Cultural conditioning is strong, and we’re so steeped in it, it can take some time and attention to discern where it’s snagged us.

Again, totally normal. That’s why you have the list.

To remind you that you get to decide what’s true for you, and you get to be the kind of artist you want.

It might seem too simple, or too difficult, and it may take some time, but it’s powerful and potentially life changing.

Seeing what you really truly know, written down – a letter from you to you – reading it every day, feeling into the deliciousness of it, reprogrammes your brain over time.

All those neural pathways created by thinking the same unhelpful thoughts over and over for years, maybe even decades, will literally start to fade when you repeatedly switch your focus to the thoughts that feel good, that serve you, that make it easier to identify yourself as an artist, and a happy one at that.😊

And now you have the list, you can tell your brain to start coming up with more truths about what being an artist means to you. Use confirmation bias {ie. your brain will seek evidence for what you’re telling it to think} in your favour!

Add them to the list! I suggest sticking it up where you can see and read through it every day.

Spoiler alert:

You’re already an artist. That’s not actually in question.

It’s when you can uncover the truth of that for yourself, and start using those helpful thoughts, that deeper knowing, to help you act in ways that create that as a reality in your life, that you’re already on the path of the happy artist.


The Happy Artist StudioWant to learn more about becoming the happy artist you know you can be? Come over to the Happy Artist Studio and see what we’re up to!

When you join, you get to be part of the private Happy Artist community, our monthly topic explorations to build your Happy Artist Life, and access to a wealth of courses to support you in developing your unique artist voice.

Everything is designed to support you in uncovering and developing your artist self, and sharing your art with the world with joy and confidence. It’s absolutely possible for anyone who feels the call, including you. 😊👩🏼‍🎨

Click that button below👇🏼 and come and find out where you could go next with your art!

Check out the Happy Artist Studio


“Being a part of this community is special, it gives a really nice feeling of belonging. Most of us work and create our art alone, and stepping into our Happy Artist Studio is like entering our common workspace, where we are on this journey together.”


Meri K