The differences between real artists and fake ones

I‘ve been an instructor since September 2021 and I have to admit that,
even though I really like this job, it’s sometimes time-consuming.
In fact, in the last few months, I’ve barely had the time to work on my personal projects. I applied to open calls, exhibited my work, thought about my next photographs and did other things, but it was difficult to find the time to create what I had in mind.

This difficulty made me ask myself these questions:
Am I still an artist if I hardly create? Therefore, what are the differences between real artists and fake ones?

Real artists create, fake artists don’t

In my opinion, real artists create regularly. They have a self-imposed schedule that allows them to create.
Being an artist means that there’s something inside you that drives you to create. If you don’t create, you can’t consider yourself an artist.
That’s why, in the last few months, I felt more like an instructor than an artist, even though I was working on the beginning of a new project.
Fortunately, I eventually managed to take the first photo of this project a few weeks ago, and I felt like I was reconnecting with my artistic life.
And it felt so good! Now, I just can’t wait to continue this series.

I know people who consider themselves artists even though they never create. The funny thing is that they’re the first to call themselves artists, but it’s definitely not legitimate.

Real artists develop their own artistic universes, fake artists copy real artists

If you’ve read this article, you know that I studied at an art school.
And one of the first things they teach you in art school is the importance of creating your own universe.
Of course, you have to look at what other artists did / are doing and you can obviously get inspired by them. But that’s all.
In fact, being curious is a way to develop your own universe. It helps you to see how the topics you are working on have already been explored, and therefore makes you work on them in a different way. Always keep in mind that you have to bring something new.

I’ve been to exhibitions where plagiarism was more than abundant.
I remember one in particular, where every two metres there were Bansky and Basquiat-like artworks. Actually, it was so ridiculous that you had to ask yourself who the exhibiting artists were. The worst thing is that these ‘artists’ are represented by galleries. How is it possible to represent an artist who clearly copies other artists?
Sorry but you’re not an artist if you don’t have your own universe.

Real artists have something to say, fake artists don’t

This part is clearly related to the previous one. Creating your universe means that you have something to say. You create artworks which convey messages, so you give them this purpose.
You can’t create something and just say “Ta-da, this is what I did”.
If you do that, it means that you don’t know why you created this thing.
It means that you’re not able to explain it.
Artworks are ways of expressing the thoughts you have in your mind. Artworks are like vectors. If you don’t know why you created something, there’s a problem. And obviously, you can’t say “I made this thing, you have to guess why I made it.”

Some fake artists try to defend their work by saying a lot of nonsense.
They know they created their work for no reason, so they try to invent an explanation. But you know what? People feel it when someone is lying.
So create something and find out why you created it, or do the opposite: think about the message you want to convey, then create an artwork that talks about it. It’s the only way to be an artist.

Of course, you can create and have nothing to say. It’s possible and I think that it happens to a lot of us, like drawing a little sketch or taking some pictures just for fun. But this is the difference: being an artist means creating a work that conveys a message, even if it’s done with a lot of fun.

Real artists take their work seriously, fake artists don’t

How can you expect to have your work exhibited and recognised if you don’t take it seriously?
Some people around me often seem surprised by the exhibitions I participate in, as if they were a little bit envious. But it doesn’t happen by chance. In fact, as soon as I graduated, I took my work very seriously. I started to apply for exhibitions, residencies, awards, while regularly creating artworks.
Trust me, you have to work hard and hold on.

I know I may sound angry in this article but I’m not. In fact, I want to help by telling what defines artists and what they should do. And I must admit that writing this article also helped me to step back and reflect on my own work.

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Pauline Le Pichon

Pauline Le Pichon

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I’m a French visuel artist, freelance photographer, instructor and writer.