Why are artists important? We see their influence in many places in day to day life, as well as in the past. However, artists seem to be looked down upon. Our culture labels them as starving and poor, and we usually get that idea. In fact, I read something somewhere that pretty much said that if you want to both disappoint and freak out your parents, then become an artist (No, I am not choosing to become an artist because I want to rebel against my parents), but what if artists actually contribute to society? What if artists have the ability to cross boundaries through their work? What if artists even create jobs? What if art and the creation of it is something that is honorable to pursue?
To get a really good idea of just how important artists are, first we must imagine a world without them. If there was a magical (or futuristic?) button that could erase all art and artists ever created, and it was pushed, then ‘poof’, the world would be gone. Not just the world we know it, the whole world. According to Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created…” Just looking at nature, we see that what God created was art. In fact, very often our human art is inspired by His art, and so art, in a sense, is mimicking the Perfect Artist.
Now, let’s say that God is still the Creator of our imaginary universe. (He is God. Even if there was such a button it wouldn’t change Him, but there isn’t a button that does that, so let us get back to the point.) The earth is back in place, but the world that we knew has entirely vanished. Cultural depth has disappeared. Everything is uniform and colorless. The murals of the Renaissance are gone and so are the cathedrals they were painted in. Greek culture would be no different than African or Japanese. Our songs, instruments, and dancing cease to exist. In fact, we may not even have things like cars or phones or airplanes. Communication would also suffer considering our ideas are very often communicated through art and literature.
Even if we programmed our figurative button to only disintegrate today’s artists we would lose a valuable contributor to society. Many artists are very involved in the community around them. My little brothers took a class taught by an artist at the library and loved it. They got to experiment with new things and got to do it with the people around them.
Many people are finding that they are able to open doors to meeting new people and making new friends through art and their own creativity. Tapigami artist Danny Scheible, who is involved in children’s workshops as well as working with museums and galleries, brings tape with him everywhere. When people see him making things with his tape it starts conversations that he wouldn’t have had before.
Another example is Erin Benzakein. Erin is a flower grower and a designer who has an amazing blog that has a huge community. Her flower farm, Floret, also provides workshops that sell out within twenty-four hours and are attended by people all over the U.S.
It’s not just individual artists and small businesses that are building community. Urban ArtWorks is a non-prophet organization that was started to clean up trash and graffiti along Seattle’s industrial zone. They train at-risk youth in art and real-life skills, painting murals all over the city. According to their website, seventy percent of those youth never re-offend.
More and more of these kinds of organizations are starting because art is available to everyone. You can create art no matter where you are in life. Age, race, and wealth don’t really matter when it comes to art. Art reflects who you are on a canvas (Well, that depends too, because art is a whole lot of things).
On a more technical note, art creates jobs. There are galleries and museums that make most of their money off of art. There are art schools that have their teachers and staff. Etsy, one of the most popular online market places, has 979 employees. They also have 1.7 million sellers, some of which make a large amount of income off of selling their goods through Etsy.
Then there are the supply suppliers (that is fun to say). Hobby Lobby has 23,000 employees and Michael’s craft stores have 48,900 employees.
Not all of the people using these services are full time artists (although you don’t have to make art full time to be an artist, but you do have to make art), but most people are buying or selling these things because they like art.
Doctors save lives and prevent illness. Mechanics create and maintain labor-saving machinery. Artists satisfy a craving for beauty, whether through images, sounds, or words.
Artists are important because beauty is important. Art brings people together because of a common love of beauty. People buy art because it means something to them. That is why artists choose to be artists; because they see the importance of beauty, and because they are called to create it.