At about 2:45 on August 10th, 2010, a friend of mine in Nashville pissed me off. We got into an argument when he asked if I liked being an artist. I told him that I had no idea. He said, “Come on, you’re an artist. Tell me what it’s like.” When I denied being an artist the second time, he talked out the book covers and CDs I’ve designed, photos I’ve taken, paintings I’ve sold, academic papers, stories, songs and instrumental music I’ve written and recorded. Then he went on to ask me about records I’ve produced and the stage, TV and film scores I’ve done. By the time he was finished, he’d convinced me I should call myself an artist. 

I’d never called myself an artist before. I grew up studying the art of true masters. Even in the small town I grew up in, there were men and women who did magnificent work. I never dreamt my scribblings could be compared to work like theirs. For me, they were artists. That’s not how I think of myself. In my mind, I’m a guitar player from Arkadelphia, Arkansas. That’s what I told him. He stared at me in disbelief, and went through a list of my work again. Eventually, I had to concede that I was an artist. But it feels wrong to say it out loud. He made me concede that I have a creative mind (another word I don’t use when I describe myself) and that I’m an artist. It was an incredibly awkward moment for me and one I’ll never forget. Maybe over time, I’ll come to terms with it and maybe, someday, I’ll introduce myself to people as an artist. I don’t know. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing what I love but I’m still pissed at him.

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