When is a crafter an artist? What’s the tipping point? Is there a moment?

I create all kinds of things, from the small and mailable to large and frameable –  and while each of us has our favorite methods, mediums, and objects created – I appreciate it all as art. But the rest of the internet doesn’t agree. I looked online and was horrified by some of the answers I saw.

So today – you’re going to get the straight skinny from my heart. It starts, for me, in the very definition of what makes something art.

Tutorial: When is a crafter called an artist?

I hope folks are wearing toe-protectors in their boots….I may step on a few toes! 🙂

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

3 requirements to call yourself an artist

First, one must make things. Pretty straightforward. You need to be a maker of things…not one who just thinks about it and never does anything. That’d be a dreamer! An artist puts colors, lines, words, pictures, film clips, thread and fabric, clay, recipe ingredients – they put their materials into a form that they did not have before.

Second, one must also want to make things. A kid in a mandatory art class in school who reluctantly glued macaroni onto cardboard as he was instructed, is most likely not an artist. The desire to create, having some level of passion – even if it’s not all-consuming – is necessary. This looks different for each person; some have something they want to say with their content, others have a meaning assigned to their work, others want to generate an emotion in the person who sees, reads, or otherwise experiences their creation.

Third, one must be brave. Brave enough to take what’s inside of you, at whatever skill level it exists, and put it out into the world. It takes courage, once we’re adults, to gather up something we’ve kept inside and give it form – because that form can often be seen by others. We’re exposing ourselves as someone who has something to offer, something to share…and it’s normal to worry about how that’ll be received. It requires bravery.

Being an artist is being a maker, a willing maker, a willing maker who is brave enough to create.

3 things you do not need to be an artist

One: proficiency. Just because you currently aren’t at an experience level that you want to be at, or skills you admire in someone else, doesnt mean you’re not an artist. You’re on the long spectrum, and maybe you haven’t taken any drawing classes yet. That doesn’t mean you’re not an artist – you’re simply at a different level. And I suggest adding YET when referencing skills you momentarily lack. YET leaves room to grow and plants hope in your heart.

Two: income from your art. You don’t have to make a penny from your art. Heck, you don’t even need anyone to SEE it. Many famous artists spent most of their lives selling few or none of their works – some of the pieces created in their “anonymous” years are worth a bundle now – and yet they didn’t get a penny from it. Does that mean it was bad art when it was created? Heck no! You can be someone who works in a paying career by day and is an artist at night – all in the best tradition of artists for centuries!

Three: a studio. I know plenty of people who create on a corner of their dining room table. Or a card table in the shed. A studio is a great convenience, but not a necessity! Whatever space you work in though, I recommend CALLING it a studio. It’ll help you with learning to call yourself an artist too!

Craft has given up in the debate

I believe craft has rolled over and just stopped even wanting to be art.

While history relegated craft to stepsister level, today manufacturers, retailers, and influencers in craft are much to blame for keeping craft in that status. 

Stores sell supplies artist use on the same shelf as kids beading kits and sticker sets; while we might have found a decent set of colored pencils, it FEELS cheap because it’s next to the macaroni art supplies. And that cheap feeling follows those supplies home with us….we start to think of our art created with them as cheap and childlike, too, and reinforce our already-dismissive perspective on crafts as art.

Influencers say things like “I can’t draw a stick figure, so I just stamp,” which makes stamping sound like it’s a second class citizen. Or “I’m no artist like (insert name of the artist) , so I’m just going to do this little thing.” Turning their own creation into that little stepchild!


What you say inside your own head tell your heart what’s true. Then when you want to make art, your heart says, “oh, I’ve heard our brain saying repeatedly that we can’t make art, can’t draw, can’t ____, so let’s shut this thing down before we start!”

And then you wonder why you get panicky when you sit down to create!

Stop attaching dismissive, insulting words to what you are creating! Stop saying you’re not an artist.

Your heart will believe what your words repeat, so don’t even whisper it under your breath. Each step you take is something to learn from while making your way along the spectrum of art.

I may be alone out here with my perspective on what art truly is. But I believe craft needs to stand up for itself. Pour its heart into what it makes, and convince the world that craftt is art.

Above: I had a senior moment and mixed up my distress inks at the end of this project. I’m not terribly sure which inks ended up getting used! ha…..

Pattern Stamping Class

Now that my rant is off my chest (I feel better!) let’s talk about Pattern Stamping!

In this class you’ll learn five different full-page patterns that you can create with Art Impressions stamps and Distress Inks! Lots of techniques for creating beautiful flowers are included, turning stamps you’d never think of using into carnations, roses, and birds. The templates will be ones you can continue to create with and adapt with lots of different options….it’s endless! (I’m a little addicted right now, so I don’t promise you won’t be as well!) While learning the patterns, you can also take elments from them to create much simpler craft projects, too; those ideas will stand you in good stead for a very long time. Check out the Pattern Stamping class HERE.

My challenge to you

Find a friend who loves you and won’t give you the crazy-eye if you start referring to yourself as an artist. Literally, find a way to work that into your next conversation, so that you hear yourself say it out loud.

Don’t say it to someone who’s a doubter or who will be shocked. That’ll do you no good in re-training your mind. Find that friend who you can trust to cheer you on.

When you tell them what you created last weekend, say that you did it in your studio. They might ask if you got a new setup, but just tell them you’ve now made a sign to post in your workspace that says “The Studio” on it.

Ask that friend to help you change how you speak about your own work, so you can have someone to hold you accountable to speak WELL of yourself and your art.

And let me know how that goes. 🙂 


Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. Canson XL Pad 
  2. Distress Inks – I think it was Tumbled Glass, Broken China, Salty Ocean, and perhaps Faded Jeans?
  3. Silver Brush Black Velvet Round #4 BLICKAMZ
  4. Art Impressions Stamp Sets:
    1. Christmas Wreath 
    2. Bible Foliage 
    3. Bible Flowers 
  5. Ellen Hutson, Totally Random Sayings Vol. 3 
  6. Mini MISTI Stamping Tool, My Sweet Petunia
  7. Scotch foam tape 

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  1. SC

    All crafters are artist in my humble opinion. 🙂 Practice makes perfect.

  2. Joan Kappers

    Such a great video on how to define yourself as an Artist! I’m guilty of telling myself that I’m not because I left behind my Reverse Glass painting (which I loved with all my heart, and where I sold many of my paintings. I have been a maker of many different types of crafty things since then. But I have to admit these things aren’t what makes my heart feel joy. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I agree with every point you made.
    Thank you,
    Joan Kappers

    • Sandy

      Aw I hope you return to what DOES bring you joy! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Gab

    LOVE this post and video Sandy. I am very guilty of saying “I’m ‘just’ a crafter”. I need to stop doing that. This class looks fantastic

    • Sandy Allnock

      We gotta be careful of that selftalk (me included!)

  4. Dottie James

    AMEN, hallelujah, standing ovation! I used to show my work at a gallery: calligraphic mixed media paintings and hand bound books. I called myself an artist. I had a studio.

    Years later, tired of the mat cutting, shrink wrapping, and pressure to make things that would sell, I left it behind. I had always been fascinated with printmaking but the equipment was a barrier. I discovered that stamping was much more than it used to be and I still got to play with paint and paper. Plus the product could be sent to someone so encourage them. No sales pressure. I was hooked.

    I still have a studio. I still make artistic things. I still use everything that I know about design, composition, and color. But lately, I’ve had a hard time thinking of myself as an artist. I substitute “maker,” “creative, ” or something similar. I needed to hear your words today.

    I am an artist. I make prints, mostly in miniature and mostly one of a kind or limited edition. I give them away to anyone who appreciates them. I do this to glorify the Creator of all things who made me in His image. I am an artist.

    Thank you, Sandy.

    • Sandy Allnock

      Maker, creator, crafter aren’t BAD terms. They’re only bad when used without their connection to being an artist! In the same way a violinist may say they’re a violinist, but they’re a musician as well. We tend to separate the terms way too much in visual arts 🙂

      • Dottie James

        Very true. And calling myself a creative or a maker is a nice shortcut if it feels like the conversation is headed to “and where do you show your work?””

        But as a way that diminishes my work to myself, it’s no good. And I appreciate the reminder.


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