As of now, you are familiar with the concept of this blog. A few weeks ago, after reading Sarah Thornton’s 33 Artists in 3 Acts, I embarked on a mission to define What is an artist? I’ve been pleased to read the great feedback we’ve been getting on this blog post through social media. I think the most striking comment received was from an Instagram follower nicknamed @betterthanbanksy: “An artist is someone who owes me money and gives me a doodle instead and thinks he's overpaid the debt.” Is that what an artist boils down to? Money and overinflated egos? Funny enough, I had just finished a conversation with the Parisian artist Le Diamantaire regarding the taboo topic of money. “Je n'ai jamais compris ce rapport argent/artiste, qui n'est pas pour moi un problème. [Pourquoi l’artiste doit-il] rester dans une certaine misère pour ne pas paraître comme un vendu?” (You’ll have a chance to read his complete answer next week on our French edition entitled Je suis une sauvage.)
Antoine Tavaglione’s dripping Chanel and Hermes logos don’t shy away from the sensitivities associated to money exchange: “To be an artist is a sacrifice. You say goodbye to stability, you thrive on challenges, and you take your dreams into your own hands. In my opinion, being an artist is beyond everything else a communication. It is channeling emotions in a way that can be conveyed to others. It is speaking a language that can only be understood by the willing eye. A visual artist is a poet who uses images as his rhymes. And an artistic mind will only thrive when it is creating, letting the walls of normalcy and barriers of conventionality fall, freeing all that was lying in wait inside, at last.”
What is an artist? “That’s a question most artists are probably never asked,” replied Stikki Peaches. His classic Batbond and tagline What if Art Rules the World plastered worldwide suggest that he’s given this topic some thought. “I truly believe art is something we all have within. I’m not saying that everyone can draw, paint, or sculpt, but we all have ideas, visions and opinions. Some of us can express them more easily than others through song, acting, dancing, building or painting. There are so many art forms when it comes to “the Arts," and it is up to artists to engage viewers into their world, to challenge what they see, touch or feel. There is an interaction and exchange between the artist, his or her body of work and the viewer. It is these interactions which fuel artists and their craft, and challenges them as well.”
Stikki’s art always comes with a social message. You’ll find the words “F*CK CANCER” or references to peace, family and love in each of his works. In interviews Stikki’s been clear in attributing art practice an important role in his personal happiness: “Art definitely rules my world! Through the highs and lows, it helps me face adversity and overcome obstacles. You have to make room for growth, to experiment, to evolve, inspire and to truly go after what you envision, because if you don't, someone else will. Trust your gut instead of asking yourself What the f*ck was I thinking? I should have done this months ago. Having the strength and courage to stand behind your ideas as they come to life: that is an immeasurable reward. The hardest thing is taking that leap of faith in the vision you want to put out there through your work, and once you do, it all comes together. In whatever art form you chose.”
I’d like to end this blog post, not with an artist but with Yoav Litvin, author of Outdoor Gallery NYC. He warns: “When reading my answer, remember I'm a doctor of psychology and a scientist. Definitions are my bread and butter.” He then adds a small smiley face. “An artist materializes an association between two or more ideas, objects and styles into an original construct. Artists are vehicles of, and instrumental for, change (good or bad) in human societies. While artists are usually thought of as only those engaged in "The Arts," true artists can create doing anything they choose.”
Next week, get ready for the first French edition featuring 123Klan, Le Diamantaire and Garbage Beauty.