Ep. #105 Question of the Year: What Makes Someone an Artist?

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #105 Question of the Year: What Makes Someone an Artist?

Last year, my final episode was a compilation episode. Every single guest from the season took a stab at answering the same question: What is the difference between technique and style? I enjoyed that episode and all of those conversations so much, I decided to make a tradition out of it.   This year, I asked every guest a question, but I switched it up a bit…  Here we are, closing our year season with every guest’s answer to the question: WHAT MAKES SOMEONE AN ARTIST?  Get ready to be a part of the conversation, and walk away with your very own answer to a very simple yet remarkably hard question.


Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Woo freaking hoo. We made it my friend. This is the final episode of 2021 last episode of season two. Wow. As I was preparing for this final episode, I thought it would be fun to Google 2021 was a blank. Uh, and just see what happens. You know, you get the, the recommended searches. Here’s what came up in my recommended searches. 2021 was a bad year, a challenging year, a dumpster fire, a hard year, a good year, a great year.  

And last but not least a shits show candle, S C H I T T as in the show Schitt’s Creek, which is one of my favorites. Um, I’m thinking maybe perhaps the show had some sort of merge and 2021 was a shit show candle. I don’t understand, but that was featured in my suggested searches. And I don’t know, I don’t know what to say about that, but to me, I’m landing on 2021 was a full year full of awesome and full of shit candles. If you will. I am so glad to be rounding out this season. On this episode, it is stimulating and thought provoking and heartfelt and art full art felt it is art felt. You’ll see what I mean by that in a moment. But first wins today. I am celebrating a healthy family and a healthy body, um, in a surprise turn of events, I wound up traveling to be with family the week before Christmas, uh, was not the plan, but it was very important.  

Speaker 0    00:02:42    I got to spend time with the in-laws. Hi Reetz says hi Cece. Hi Sarah. Hi Lucy. Hi Bethy and Hi will. Hi Ben, except Ben can drive himself now. So Ben is probably not in the car listening, but hi everyone. I love you all. So, so, so much. I also got to pass through Denver and visit with my family, which was super, super sweet. Um, the real cherry on top though, is that I got to spend a few days and nights up in the mountains at my sister’s cabin. Um, I even went snowshoeing on a trail that was cleared by my brother-in-law. It was fabulous. Um, and on the hike I was joined by my eight year old niece who proved herself way more athletic than I thought she was actually probably more athletic than I am. She is a star. I’m so proud of you, Emily. Great job. Um, I suppose that if you are listening to this episode on the day of its release, you can head over to words that move me podcast, all words, no spaces, um, on Instagram. And I will post some of those photos because I’m just standing in this podcast booth wishing I could show you what I saw and I can. So, um, throughout the day today, Wednesday, I will be posting some photos of my hike. Okay. That is me. Now you go, what are you celebrating today? What’s going well in your world.  

Congratulations. Um, and you know what, actually, we’re going to do that one more time. Uh, you’re going to celebrate just one more win. And this time I want you to zoom out zoom all the way out and look at your year. You’re at 2021. What are you celebrating this year? What went well in the last 365 beats?  

Hell yes. Congrats. I’m so proud of you. I am so proud of us. My friends, we really got through that, wizard it all right now, let’s get through this. Shall we? Last year, my final episode was a compilation episode. Every single guest from the season took a stab at answering the same question. And last season, that question was what is the difference between technique and style, favorite episode? So good. Check that out. That was episode 52. Go check that out this year. However, I asked all of my quests a different guesstion this year. However, I asked all of my guests a different question. I asked what makes someone an artist. Now I’ll preface. This question is a total setup because it’s hard to answer it without first defining art. And as we know that can take centuries and ultimately remain agreed upon. I’ve never actually heard an answer to that question, or I’ve never been able to define art.  

Never heard it defined in a way that struck me as 100% true and real and incontestable. But if I had to answer this question today, if I had to tell you what makes someone an artist, I’d say that an artist is a being who makes something invisible, visible, and I’ll move right on so that you don’t have time to punch holes in my answer, we’re just going to bless them through movers and shakers. Enjoy every single guest from 2021 telling you what makes someone an artist. First we will hear from Kara Mac, Tyce Diorio, Tilly Evans-Krueger, Jonathan Battista, Rebekah Rangle, and Hok. 

Dana: What makes someone an artist?  I know, I know, I know it’s a set up and heavy. I mean marinade on that. 

Kara: What makes someone, an artist, an artist is a person who is led solely by their spirit. First, there are different letter levels to artisans. So you have artisans that may have the ability to understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And then you have artisans who don’t yet understand, but in both situations, they are moved. That’s why we use the word emotion E motion. Something that moves you their moved to create, create is the basis for change. So in both situations where in their heads, one person may understand another person may not, but in both situations, they are first led only by their spirit and their emotions. That’s an artist.  

Tyce: What makes someone, an artist is who they are at the core, everything they are, everything they aren’t there, their successes, their fears, their, everything, everything in one big beautiful melting pot. Yeah.  

Tilly: Being an artist as innate. Everyone’s an artist.  

Jonathan: Wow. Themselves. Absolutely. It’s becoming an artist. It’s about who you are. It’s about your essence. It’s about what’s rooted within you. It’s about your individuality, your uniqueness, your soul, your heart, your mind, no judgment, not at all. It’s about freedom to become and you can become anything you want to become. You are one with nature and you are nature. So it’s about you. That’s becoming an artist. I think sometimes we search or so much what’s out there. How can I become that? How can it transform that one thing that I have seen and I have heard, or have been labeled as, and now it’s about how you move. It’s about how you speak. It’s. How about how you dance your fly. It’s truly about you.  

Rebekah: That’s a good question, because I feel like there’s probably a million artists who are like, I don’t call myself that, but like you would probably think that they’re artists,  

Hok: That that’s a pretty tough one. What makes someone an artist? I think the moment there is a perceiver where whether that might be the artist itself or someone else, uh, the moment that someone decides that is art. I think anyone could become an artist. And uh, in that way, I guess technically anyone could become an artist in a very broad definition of it. But that is my answer right now. And you could ask me the same question next to it. And I might a vastly different answer right there. But I think, I think right now we can agree that anyone can become an artist.  

Dana: I love that. Yes. Yes. Each of these fabulous humans, artists, I will call them come from the perspective that creating is innate, that art comes from the self, any self, and they love that next step you will hear from Will Simmons, Eartha Robinson and Dominique Kelly.  

Will: Um, what makes someone, an artists to me is an artist that attend the work and puts in the time. And this goes to anything. This can be into basketball and to dance and to singing anyone who really digs into their work falls in love with it. Um, that respects the artwork and the craft, and really just has the full right intention because anyone in reality can be an artist. But what makes a good artist is someone who loves it, who lives and breathes it and who was ready to do everything it takes to become successful at it. I really think that’s what makes a good artists.  

Eartha: What makes an artist, uh, creativity and the love for it. The ability to open up and let this, um, force of love and creativity flow out of you as a constant stream. It’s something, it’s your path. It’s what you, it’s. Your passion is what you are and who you are. Everything that you do, what you touch, you are living that constantly. So you’re always in the state of creation. You’re always ever flowing in the artistry that you do, but like we’ll set whether it’s sports or singing, but it’s, it’s your intention in that. And it’s not something that you just pick up and you are all of a sudden, you’re constantly on that path of artistry and you never really arrive. If you’re a true artist, you never really say I am that thing now, period. You’re always on a path of creativity to true artistry. I think you never really, if it’s flowing through you always, you are that artist. It does not stop until you take your last breath. And even then I think the intention of the creativity makes the artist.  

Dominique: I think the thing that makes someone, an artist is being a vessel. Anyone can be an artist because we all have stories to tell. We all have ways to tell those stories because not everyone can speak. Not everyone can see, not everyone can feel. So, however way you tell your story or tell us story that makes you an artist.  

Will: That was a good little tagline. Look at you. You wrote that down, didn’t you? 

Dana: I love how Will and Eartha and we’ll I’ll have really different angles. And I simply enjoyed being a fly on the wall for that conversation. Um, and if you enjoy that as well, then you would probably definitely most certainly enjoy their complete episode, episode number 61, crushing. Okay. Let’s keep it pushing next. You will hear from Smac, Galen hooks, Julia Grubbs and Miguel Zarate 

Dana: Tough question. It’s intended to be what makes someone an artist?  

Smac: Uh, gosh, you hitting me with the hardcore stats. Um, I just think someone who was, oh gosh, I was just going to say no wonder it was fun. I mean, yeah. Anyone who’s fun. Isn’t all this. I think someone who can just look at anything regular, any object, any scenario, listen to any song and just, uh, interpreted in a non-regular way. Does that mean, is that a good answer? 

Dana: I love that answer. I also love the first answer. Fun. Any anybody? You’re an artist and I want to be arguing with you.  

Smac: I just hope that every artist is fun. Cause you know, at least at times just have a little bit of fun in your art.  

Galen: Someone is an artist. If they interpret the world around them, through their own lens and spit it back out in a way that has been,  

Dana: I love the cadence. Actually. It was on the edge of my toes because I’m not sitting down right now.  

Galen: Oh man, I failed miserably.  

Dana: Do you want to try it again? Cause I see what you’re saying and I actually, I love it.  

Galen: Uh, an artist is someone who, who reinterprets the literal things they see in the world and spits it back out through their own lens, whether it’s through song or dance or art or I mean art, not art paint, particularly any sort of medium that you’re taking, what you see the world to be in, reinterpreting it through your own lens.  

Dana: Well said, I love it. I’ll take it.  

Julia: I think what makes somebody an artist is to describe, to be able to portray or describe any aspect of the human condition in a way that someone else can say, look at it, hear it, feel it and say, I know that.  

Dana: What makes someone an artist?  

Miquel: Oh God, a point of view period. A point of view.  

Dana: See that wasn’t so hard,  

Miquel: No a clear a point of view on what are you doing then I don’t need to see you. I don’t need to, I don’t need to see it. I don’t need to hear it. I don’t need to do anything with it. If you don’t have a plan, you don’t need to buy it. No, exactly, exactly. You’re allowed to do whatever you want, but I truly believe an artist has to have a point of view to be an artist.  

Dana: All of those perspectives, underline the importance of a point of view or being able to look at the world in a certain way. I can totally get on board with those definitions. I think it’s possible actually someday when VR is more accessible and affordable, that we’ll probably be able to like put on a pair of glasses and see the world through Wes Anderson’s eyes or Picasso’s eyes or Steven Spielberg’s eyes or your eyes. What do you think about that? I think that that is terrifying, but also awesome. And I think that speaking of seeing the world through the artful lens, this next section is a personal favorite of mine in this next section. You’re going to hear from the, In the Heights choreography team, Christopher Scott, then Eddie Torres, Jr. Princess Serrano, then Meghan McFerran and Emilio, Duracell and Ebony Williams. I’m gonna come tracking you down for an answer to this question. She had to jump off the call early. I promise I’m going to get it. I’m going to get the answer. What makes someone an artist?  

Chris: I mean, I can speak cause that’s the thing is I probably won’t be happy with my answer. One thing I think about when I think about like even labeling myself as an artist. Cause I, you know, we struggle with that. I feel like. And sometimes I think, well maybe that’s what makes you an artist that is, if you, if you, I don’t know, I’m really like liberal with it. Like to me, it’s like, if you want to claim that you’re an artist, then you’re an artist. Like be one, like if that’s, if, if for you the way you, you know, pack your bag every morning, it could be a way of art, a way of expressing yourself. Like, I don’t know, like to me it’s like really there is no, uh, like what makes you an artist? I think if you want to be one than just be one and just claim it and do it. And because somebody out there is going to relate to what your art is, whether everybody else does or not. And, and you know, if you can get to that person, then you know, you’re, you’re creating art and that could, that could be long after you’re gone. So to me, it’s, you know, being an artist is just freeing. 

Eddie: No, I like that. Yeah. Actually. I mean, now that you said that Chris, I think now that you made it clear for me being an artist is really just being free in my opinion, being free in who you are and your beliefs in your imagination and just letting that flow through you without any filter, without any like, just really expressing. And that comes in all limitless forms, not just dance and STNA, not just the common ways that what we call entertainment, but I know artists that, that just, you know, on the corner and they’re artists and they don’t even know that they’re an artists and they’re just, they speak from a, they see the world differently. They see it through, you know, it’s just, it’s just, it’s it’s freedom. 

Princess: Um, I would say doing whatever it is that you do just doing it, that’s also the same as being, being free, just doing it could be so simple, but it’s the gift that God gave you. So that’s your art  

Meghan:I think on top of being free. Yes, totally being an art, being an artist is being free and it’s also celebrating life in any aspect way, shape or form.  

Emilio: Uh I’m uh, I’m going to take a page from Eckhart Tolle. Being an artist is being in the now it’s being present, uh, in my experience, anytime that I’ve done my artistry, which is dance, um, completely present, um, whole I’m one. I am enough. That’s what being an artist is, is living in the now  

Dana: I really love how that section seemed to be big on the theme of freedom, because so as the film, hello, if you haven’t seen it yet, by the way in the Heights, that is, I implore you to do so, and then go back and listen to our choreo team episode, which was episode number 97. I am so glad we got to do that. And I’m so grateful to have been a part of that team. Holy smokes. So we had, all right, next step, we are digging into the idea of art in relationship to truth. This is Reshma Gajjar,  Matty Peacock and Nina McNeely.  

Reshma: I think somebody who is an artist is someone who is expressing their truth in any form. However, that looks,  

Matty: Um, someone noticed someone who can find, um, truth and honesty in what they do. I think,  

Nina: I think I got it 

Dana: Hit me 

Nina: Telling the truth These days. I really think of that. Like we got a challenge it’s I think it’s an artist’s responsibility to challenge the status quo. And that has my feathers rustled, very rustled these days. Let’s just say,  

Dana: I feel that failure truth. I’ll take it. I, I think the, what is art conversation is exhausting and I’m not honestly, I’m not so interested in it. I don’t think art is as powerful as we hoped it would be. I think people, I think especially fine art people who scoff at the entertainment industry are really missing something because I think that what we do and, and the way that we can invite fine art and fine art elements into blockbuster films and music videos is really cool.  

Nina: Oh yeah. I think it totally can exist in both realms. And I honestly like really don’t like the academia kind of side of art of dance, especially, and are like, like I was saying, like, I don’t care about your process and you being in your sweats, talking about it, bore balls in the McGillicuddy, please put some effort in, please, please. For the love of God, get a costume, gets, do some lights. Like I also think too, it’s like, I don’t like to be con not maybe confused as like, I don’t need to be so perplexed that I don’t. I feel like I’m dumb because I don’t get something like, I actually like to be entertained those really long silence, Swedish movies, Sofia Coppola. So snore. So I don’t like it. I like being entertained and I don’t, I don’t think that entertainment makes it not art or that humor makes something not art. Look at John Waters.  

Dana: Talk about telling the truth. Yeah. Comedians do that better than everyone. One of the things that I’ve learned in my clown school experience is that clowns, uh, in the very, very early days were the only ones permitted to make fun of royalty. They were allowed to poke fun. Everyone else would be beheaded, but clowns were allowed to because it was part of their job. I think it’s, I think it’s fascinating. 

Nina: Absolutely.

Dana: Friends, so good, man. I am in love with this episode. I could talk about each of those answers and perspectives for forever. Uh, but I do want to get into this next section. So here we go. Now you’re going to hear from Erika Mori, Nika Klune, Craig Bayliss, and Kat burns.  

Erika: What makes someone an artist is the self-awareness to tap into their creativity and the courage it takes to share it with others.  

Nika: This is deep.Okay. Okay. I got it

Dana: It is it’s really, it’s hard to approach. So a lot of people like go go very broad and really simplify. Um, like I would accept if somebody is an artist, if they make art,  

Nika: I want to say something very smart, but I can’t because it’s English. Um, but I want to say left feeling to say, uh, artists is someone who is fearless. Someone who is unstoppable, fearless, unstoppable, and is making their own rules.  

Dana: That is a beautiful answer. I love that. We’ve got it. That’s perfect. Although, although it would be fun to hear you say in your native language, if you’d like, 

Craig: Uh, I believe what makes someone an artist is each person’s courage to recognize who they really are M at same courage that it takes for them to express that through any medium of, you know, creative acumen. I think that’s what makes an artist. And I’ve said this for years, uh, that the only authority on art is art itself  

Kat: After Craig, how are you going to play me? Um, I think life experiences make an artist. I think, oh God, I don’t know. This is a very hard one. Dana, because art to me just feels so broad and it can be a mini. It could be a mini thing. Uh, I feel like art. What makes an artist is a, is a personal expression onto your chosen craft. That’s ridiculous. What makes an artist? I don’t know. Someone trying to communicate something to the world in some form or another,  

Dana: I’ll take it. I will buy that for a dollar. 

Dana: It is no shock to me that all four of those guests focus on courage and fearlessness because I perceive them all as being quite brave. This next bundle of guests is very brave too, but in their answers, they focus on a very specific function of art. And that is communication. This is Jessica Castro, Lily Frias, and Terri Santiago. Jess Castro. 

Dana: Yes. What makes someone an artist? 

Jess: Ah, oh man. Okay. What makes someone, an artist is someone that is willing to be vulnerable without holding anything back, allowing others to join in that vulnerability? I think, I think that’s how I can explain it.  

Dana: Lily, what makes someone an artist?  

Lilly: Ooh, what makes someone an artist? I think individuality representation and freedom of expression, inspiring others to do the same.  

Terri: Um, and I think that what makes people, someone, an artist is their communication with other people and having the ability to create, not to create, but to communicate with someone and have them add to what you’re doing and being able to reach multiple people have, you know, thousands of hundreds of people, whatever it is, but being able to reach people and communicate with them and have them enjoy what’s inside of you think that’s what makes you, you know, artists I’ve, I’ve been an artist position. So that’s sorta kind of my perspective. If, if I’m doing something, if I were doing something and the people weren’t reacting to me, I needed to do more to make them react.  

Dana: So if, if people aren’t reacting, you’re not an artist,  

Terri: No, you’re still an artist. They’re just not reacting the way that you need them to react. So it makes you want to do more. Does that make sense? 

Dana: I’m challenging you just for the sake of conversation. 

Dana: When I think of art as communication and artists as speakers or editors, I’m reminded of the importance of having a voice. And I am so, so grateful for this podcast for helping me to find and refine mine, warm and fuzzy thoughts that make me want to cry a little bit. And we’re still going, here we go. Next up. You’ll hear from Ava Bernstein-Mitchell, Jin Lee and Ardyn Flynt.  

Ava: I think what makes someone an artist I’m going to give a simple form. A is someone who, somebody who is creating, who creates something. Um, and I don’t want to add a professional level to it if they’re good or the bad artists objective, I read the book big magic and it changed my way of thinking. I really, really liked that book. And so I think anybody who is creating it and putting out in the world is an artist.  

Jin: I think anyone that uses their creative like flow, like anything creative, I think to me, makes them an artist, dancers, singers, you know, comedians like actors. I feel like I live in the Mecca of artists.  

Ardyn: What makes someone, an artist, someone who consciously intentionally and actively engage his practice of witnessing, participating in and creating art. Is that horrible cop out answer?  

Dana: No, I think what this question is designed to be challenged.  

Ardyn: I think someone who invests. Yeah. I think someone  

Dana: Who invests in what the making or the art, like I could be an, an, an investor who purchases or invest in art, but I don’t know if that’s makes me an artist.  

Ardyn: I think it’s, I think it’s the making I can, I think, I think that you can be an artist. Well know that sounds kind of crazy, right? You can’t be an artist without making art or, cause I was thinking, I was thinking that there could be a way in which individuals can view the world and other and other humans that might qualify them as artist. That feels feels right. That’s a good question. Without making an art product.  

Dana: Yeah, I think so. I think so. 


Dana: I love that little cluster because hello, artists are people who create so simple, right? And at times so difficult. All right, my friend, we’re getting down to it. Our final few answers. Next step you’ll hear from Muncell Durden. His answer is exceptional and I am so not surprised by that because his self, this is exceptional. Enjoy Moncell Durden.  

Moncell: What makes someone, an artist? No one will ever give you the answer. I’m about to give. I don’t know if this necessarily makes them an artist, but I have my own definition for the word art, because I did not subscribe to dance. Being an art form for years, to me, dance was not art. I’m a visual painter as well. I specialize in realism, particularly portraits and seeing them. So art for me coming from that background in my life is a fixed thing. I take a photo, the photo is done. I frame it. I hang it. I make a painting. It’s done. I frame it. I hang it. So art was a fixed thing. Dancing is not fixed. It’s ever growing and ever changing. I’m not ever done with it. So that’s how I saw art. So I was like, I don’t think that dance is not art for me. Um, however, I pondered this for like over a year, almost two years, because I was like, is it an art? Like, am I wrong for thinking? That’s not? So I’m thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, and then one day it hits. I know what art is. And under that definition, the definition I came up with, I was okay with dance being art. And again, this is, this doesn’t mean other people have to subscribe to it. This is just me. So my definition for the word art is awareness reflective of transcendentalism.  

Dana: You have a four word definition for art.  

Moncell: If you want to include of

Dana: I do you want to have three words?  

Moncell: Uh, yeah, but I can go with, uh, it’s just the connector. It’s your, what we call art is how we are. Everything for me comes back to a few things. I think five, it comes back to social political, economic, environmental, cultural, and spiritual. Everything comes back to that. And the idea of what makes a person an artist was that it and artists is the fact that they are aware of those things. They are reflective of their awareness in the transcendentalism, in their hub, in their habitus, in those things. But it just is cyclical because what are you awareness? Your awareness is of transcendentalism. And you reflect that awareness of your track. This one. So it’s cyclical. It just bounce around it, depending on how you want to move. And as regular circle and the figure eight is just intertwining. And I’m like, yeah, that’s what, that’s what art is. It reflects your environment. And it is, there is an awareness of the environment that you’re reflecting. It’s not mirrored. So we’re not, you not purely talking about, you know, mirror neurons, we’re under, we have an awareness of this. And yeah, I was like, okay, well under that, then dance, dance fits into that. It’s, you know, there’s an awareness that reflects my lived experience.  

Dana: Well, my friend, what do you think there is certainly a lot to think about a lot to chew on with your mind. And I hope that after listening to that, and to this episode, you feel prepared in answering this question for yourself, perhaps, you know, in case anyone ever asks you just on the street, Hey, by the way, what makes someone an artist? I think it’s a good thing to have a position on. And if you would like to share your position, by the way, tell us your answer to this question. You can post it on Instagram and tag us at words, the movie podcast, you can DM us if you would rather keep this a secret answer to this very public question. Um, but I really do love having this conversation with people. So please let me know what you think makes someone an artist.  

And now before I throw it to my very own sister to close it out, I want to thank you. My listeners for being a part of another incredible season complete with huge mile markers, I might add our 100th episode was back there a little while ago and over 100,000 downloads, ye frickin ha. I am stoked on this. I’m stoked on the community that is growing around this podcast. Please continue to tell your friends, share the podcast, keep the podcast with you by downloading it. And oh yes. And leave a review and rating, which by the way you can do on Spotify. Now I did not know that until very recently, you can leave a review and a rating on Spotify. Do it. Thank you for doing it. It helps other people find the podcast, uh, and ultimately not to sound corny, but it’s real. It’s so true. Your words move me too. So I am ready to move into season three. Let’s close out season two with a bang and just a few more words, literally from my sister, Dr. Adrienne Mann, keep it funky. I’ll I’ll talk to you soon.  

Dana: What makes someone an artist? 

Dr. Mann: Their thoughts? 

Dana: The end. 

Outro: Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time? Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.

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