What Makes An Artist an Artist?

"Dice Man," YOHO Artists Open Studios, Yonkers, NY (May 2, 2015) 

"Dice Man," YOHO Artists Open Studios, Yonkers, NY (May 2, 2015) 

There's a big difference to me between an artist and someone who makes art. 

But until I met this man, I couldn't put it into words. 

I walked into his open studio on Saturday and saw two paintings on the wall that I thought an organization I know might like to buy.

"Could I make an introduction for you?" I asked. 

"Sure," the modest man said, staying more focused on his canvas than on me. "But they don't have to buy the pieces; I could just lend them to hang up. I just want people to enjoy them." 

The gentleman didn't have a card. So I asked him to write down his email address, which included the words "dice man" in it. 

That was odd, I thought, so I asked him why. "It's a book I once read about a guy who is bored, so he starts making all of his decisions by rolling some dice," he explained. "Sounds good, but it ends up getting him into a lot of trouble." 

"That idea always stuck with me, but I'm not sure why," he continued. "Because I don't really have a choice; this [gesturing to his canvas] is what I do." 

Not "what I want to do." Not "what I choose to do." But "this is what I do." 

And that's what makes an artist an artist.