SOMEONE JUST CALLED ME AN IDIOT…
Someone dear to me just called me an idiot. Why, you ask? Because I said not to call me an artist! Please, no angry responses or hate messaging needed as it was said by someone who loves and respects me and believes that my talents are extraordinary. I get it, though. It seems completely ridiculous to reject being called an artist when I am working like a crazy woman to launch elibea – my new business, brand and website (www.elibea.com) that will showcase and sell my creative works as well as my future wearables and home interior product lines…at least, that is the dream.
So…I’m sitting here in my home, in the room formerly known as my dining room and that is now designated as elibea’s worldwide headquarters, trying to figure out why it is that I feel so awkward and uncomfortable with the moniker “artist.” Is it because when I hear the word “artist,” I think of the greats like Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Pollack and Warhol and think that it’s just silly to put myself in the same class as them?
Or maybe it’s because I feel a sense of illegitimacy in that I never studied or earned a degree in school for art and design. I have spent the past 20 years comfortably carrying the title of “attorney” and that’s probably because I felt that I earned it after having spent three grueling years in law school and countless sleepless nights as a young Associate earning my stripes at a large New York City law firm. Or perhaps my hesitation to call myself an artist simply comes down to fear. Putting myself out there as an “artist” is scary and makes me feel quite vulnerable.
My work is extension of me – it’s who I am, what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking and how I view the world. There’s nothing more personal than that for me. As anybody who knows me well will tell you, I am extremely hard on myself. On a daily basis, my own inner critic shouts at me that my work is not good enough or doesn’t meet my own ridiculously high standards of perfection. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I would feel squeamish about being called an “artist.” I will admit that over the years I’ve gotten better at quelling that destructive, negative voice within me, but it hasn’t lost all of its power yet. I’m a work-in-progress trying to be a little kinder to myself each day.
What I do know for sure is that for as long as I can remember, I have always loved to create. From the moment I was able to hold one of those jumbo toddler crayons, I haven’t stopped drawing, imagining and creating. When I was growing up, I used to draw on every blank scrap of paper that I could find in my house, infuriating my parents, especially when they were unable to find a sliver of blank space amidst my doodles to jot down a phone message on the pad sitting next to the kitchen phone. No matter the medium - crayons, markers, pastels, colored pencils, or paint…or drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, textiles or mixed media…cooking or baking…or flower arranging, calligraphy, jewelry-making, knitting, crocheting, sewing, or embroidery - I have always felt an innate compulsion to create. My everyday world is filled with colors, images, shapes, designs, ideas, feelings and inspirations all from which I draw, make connections and create - sometimes more successfully than others. I love that my creations make people think, evoke emotion and infuse color and energy into a given moment or space – that’s pretty darn awesome!
Starting elibea has been and will continue to be a rollercoaster ride for me. I hope you’ll join me on this exciting (but sometimes scary) adventure. Hopefully, as elibea grows and evolves, my inner turmoil about being called an “artist” will resolve itself and I will be able to accept the venerable title of “artist” without reservation and awkwardness. But in the meantime, if you call me an artist and I shy away from it or show any unease, please know that I sincerely appreciate your belief in me.