I saw this question on Quora this morning and wrote a brief response. “How Artistic are you?” I feel a much longer response is justified here.
How artistic are you is a different question from how Creative are you and still a different question yet from how productive are you? These are three very separate questions.
The first question is how artistic are you? There are people who are trained in the arts and do them, but for lack of a better term just go through the motions. Sure they make nice art and it is well within the norms and standards of their art form, but their work shows little talent, insight or innovation. There is no denying they are artistic, but they are not very creative with their art. Even within Byzantine Iconography which is a very structured art form there is room for creativity, you just have to know where to be creative. The artists who are remembered in history are the ones who either excelled in their genre or who pushed the limits of their genre in new directions which had never been thought of before.
The second question is how creative are you? You can be a very artistic person and not be very creative. This would be if your work showed little creative insight and simply copied the work of others. A true artist will have their artistic ability shine in many areas. As an artist I work and excel in several areas of art: painting, photography, drawing and writing. You could follow all of the guidelines of fine art and thus be artistic, but have your work lack creativity. Being creative involves using imaginative and original ideas for creating something. Creativity shows inspiration and uniqueness in your work. It shows that you are not afraid to work in ways that have not been thought of before and are not afraid to go outside of the normal boundaries of your work when need be. Creative people let their creativity touch many if not all areas of their lives. I am creative as well as being artistic and this creativity even effects the way I make brownies!
The third question is how productive you are you with your artistic creativity? This is quite often confused with being artistic. People see others who are very productive with their work and say “you are so artistic!” There are those who are brilliant artists but who are not very productive and thus have very little to show for all of their skill. There are others who are much less skilled at art but are very productive and have much to show for their skill. For the longest time I was not very productive with my iconography painting. Or not as productive as I knew that I should have been. I wasted a lot of time on non-artistic endeavors. I still struggle with this in the art that I work on today, even though most people look at my work and think that I am very productive.
Just something to think about next time you hear someone say “he/she is so artistic!”
How Artistic Are You? was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.