I'm finding I have a very different idea of what an "artist" is than most people. I've taught a few young aspiring artists over the years and it seems like all of them have been come in preprogramed with the message of "don't be an artist, there's no money in art... do something valuable for a career that makes money". The training in arts is put down at a very low level and trivialized in most peoples minds. The problem is I think people are drawing way too small of a circle when they think about being an "artist" is, and what one can do with art. I think art education programs really do themselves no favors and ironically help perpetuate this message themselves. Most people think of fine artists, gallery artists, and those artist in the weekend art show in the park, when they think about artists. They look back at what art is in art history books and look to find the nearest equivalent of that today.
Look around a room. Everything you see in it was designed by an artist. I'm not talking about interior design artist here. The desk was imagined by an artist. The chair, the carpet, the door, the door knob. They're all imagined and designed by someone. They may work in a more mechanical drafting program for a canvas, but the same rules of form and design and visual problem solving are playing out in their minds as the minds of the gallery artist. I work as a draftsman as my regular job by day and I reject the notion that it's completely different than the illustration I do in the evenings. They both take an artistic mind... not a mathematical mind.. although those things help.
I was asked in an art class once if I thought there would ever be any great artists again like we had in the Renaissance. Truly great minds doing inspired art at the highest levels. To me, we have plenty of those artist right now... they're just in new and exciting fields of art. Watch whatever the latest eye candy effect driven movie is out there and you'll find plenty of the most creative minds on display. The great artists aren't all selling pottery in the park. They're working as animators, storyboard artist, special effect guys and so on. There are worlds of things you can do as an artists and I don't think training kids how to paint a great looking still-life shows them even the smallest part of the possibilities.
I'll get off my soap box now. I just thought I would share and see if there were any other artists out there who agreed with me.
Have a great day guys and keep doing the great art.