Within You and Without You

My uncle and I were discussing a friend of the family who, until about a year or two ago, had been making art as a living for the past thirty-plus years. Though I am unclear as to the actual reason behind his decision for leaving art behind as his profession, I do know it was not because of health reasons. On the contrary, this person apparently stopped producing art to become the owner of a local bar.

As someone who has tried his whole life to become a full-time artist, I am having a difficult time understanding why or how any artist could voluntarily retire from creating work in their lifetime. It begs the question- is someone an artist because they have the talent and means to do so, or are they an artist because it is an inherent passion that never dies, no matter the circumstances?

There was a time, after I returned from college and was searching for my path in life that I was not creating any art, but I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be producing again. Even when I’ve deliberately tried to suppress my creative desires, they have always managed to creep up on me in unexpected, but glaring ways, such as sketches jammed on paper- in between writings, notes or lists that were intended to serve other purposes.

To me, being an artist is an extension of being; I simply cannot turn it off or walk away from it. So, if somebody simple stops making art to move on to another 'job'- could they really be considered an artist, in the truest sense of the word? My answer would be no. But then again, it's all about opinions. If you have any thoughts on the subject, feel free to comment.