It’s a word I feel very uncomfortable with. I prefer to be just known as a decorative painter. Being an artist is too broad--do you sculpt? Paint on canvas? Make jewelry? Sing? Act? Sew? It is to all-encompassing, and too "uppity" it sometimes feels to me! And there’s an implication, it sometimes feels, that you can "do it all"--do anything in art, when maybe you just have a small specialized area that you have developed and excel at.
I guess I was officially an "artist" when I had my first book published. It was a painting book, full of designs and all the instructions, step by step, for you to paint them. People treat you very differently, as being in print kind of "establishes" you, makes you something more than a "hobbyist", I guess. You are PUBLISHED! I attend many of the decorative painting conventions and all of a sudden I was "somebody", not just another "painter". That's a nice feeling, but did it make me an "artist" all of a sudden? No, not really! It just made me someone with a familiar name!
I’ve never felt that my subject matter was "serious" enough to be considered an artist. I don’t paint on canvases! I paint whimsical, "cute" things, nothing dramatic and bold or with a profound statement. Yet, it's still original, it's still my own creation, and it's still made using traditional art materials. Those who paint on canvas often look down on the "decorative painters", but our stuff sells!