You know how they say dress for the job you want, not the job you have? I think the same goes for telling people what you do. It's an infamous and boring question, "What do you do?" I read somewhere that a better question to ask is "What are you working on?" I like that question much better, especially from an artist standpoint. It opens up the conversation to more than just what the person does to pay the rent.
What triggered this post in my mind is an experience I had about a month ago. Some friends and I go to a local bar on Thursday evenings to play Trivia. This particular week we were short a few people in our group, so my friend invited some friends and relatives. Well, one was talking about his job, and I asked what he did for work. He told me, and then asked the same question in return. I felt my face fall, my body slump, and as I was about to say, "Oh, I'm a receptionist..." my friend chimed in and said, "She knits and crochets!"
I knit and crochet. I sew and embroider. I weave, dye, screen print, and felt. I'm an artist. I'm a Fiber Artist.
That could not be a better response. So often have I explained my woes to people who are just looking for the short answer. "What do you do?" "You mean what's my day job? Or what do I really want to do?" It's so much easier to just say, "I'm a Fiber Artist." Just thinking about that response now even makes me feel better. If I don't believe that I'm an artist, I'll never actually BE an artist. It's all mind games. Actually, in her book Art, Inc., Lisa Congdon discusses this in the first chapter. The more you believe something something about yourself, the more it comes true.
So, from now on, if anyone asks me what I do for work, or what my job is, I'm planning on just saying that I'm a Fiber Artist, because that's what I am and that's what I do.
What are you working on?