I only started calling myself a 'Visual Artist' this year, not because I only became one this year - I've been practicing for a long time now - but because up until recently I didn't know what it actually mean to BE a visual artist. To be honest I'm not sure I really know now.
At first I thought the title could only be given to those with some sort of Visual Arts degree - a piece of paper that says you're qualified. And then I thought, maybe it's if you are picked up by a gallery or agent, degree or no. And now, well I guess I view the term much more loosely.
I have friends who I'd call artists and who had none of the above qualifications and it was then that I realised I checked the same boxes as them - and suddenly I was a visual artist.
I make art, I sell art, I exhibit art and I want to continue doing so for as long, and as frequently as possible. The ideal? To create art full time, to have a studio and to eventually open a gallery-come-book-shop-come-cafe. That or become an art teacher. My partner, Hugo, is 100% invested in my pipe-dream and has even made business proposals for me (bless his soul), but I know it's far off and that so many artists, with far more experience and 'prestige' have struggled to achieve less, hence calling it a pipe-dream.
I've had constant commission work for a full year now and see more coming in the future, which is both exhilarating but also intimidating - at what point do you invest more time in art than a day-job?
I have an office job, 9-5 every day which means art is an evenings and weekend hobby which is, honestly, lovely. But can I straddle both worlds? Full-time corporate career with visual arts career? I'm trying! Hopefully, as I age and find my feet in the world and with Hugo, I'll be able to sway toward arts more than the office.
Time will tell. For now, I'll spend as much time experimenting and improving my arts practice, save as much money through the corporate job, and maybe, just maybe, I'll get that gallery.