Some people just always knew they wanted to be an artist (I’m lumping craftspeople in here, too, because I refuse to discuss possible differences), but other people came to their talent late in life. They may have endured emotional hardship and isolation because their talents were misunderstood.

Maybe this guide will help you recognize your own inner artist, or help you diagnose a loved one before it’s too late. You might be an artist if…

craft-matters-february-2009-1…when you were little, you drew/colored/painted to an extreme extent on your walls/bathtub/little sister or dog. Especially if this was an unusual event in your family—the idea that anyone would need much more than a couple sheets of paper to draw—and your family is still talking about it. Fifty. Years. Later.

…when you were presented with a food you didn’t like (canned peas, or sauerkraut), you didn’t just hide it under your napkin. You did interesting things with it. Like sculpted a mountain with a little road, and decorated it with tiny pieces of broccoli for trees.

…you heard the phrase, “Well, you can’t make a living with art” more than twice in your lifetime. Ask yourself: Why are people always telling you that?

…you liked to collect “cool stuff,” and your definition of cool stuff wasn’t baseball cards but rocks, shells, funky pieces of old metal, string, driftwood, etc. (Bonus points if your family called it “trash” and kept tossing it out, leaving you broken-hearted.)

…other girls played with “Barbie” dolls, but you made her house out of tissue boxes, made teensy ashtrays for her out of lumps of candle wax, and sewed her dresses out of socks. Bonus points if you altered Barbie dramatically for an art project. Subtract points if you strip­ped her to her undies and used her to chase your little brothers.

…your folks took you to a craft fair, and you spent all day in the potters’ guild tent, watching them demonstrate, and you even forgot to eat, and returned to your parents completely covered in mud…er, raw clay.

craft-matters-february-2009-2…you once got a paint-by-number set and wondered where the rest of the colors were, and why they only gave you enough to make one picture.

…after reading the story of how American artist Benjamin West made his very first paintbrush with hairs he pulled from his cat’s tail, mysterious bald patches suddenly appeared on Fluffy.

…your parents began hiding scissors from you at a very early age, and school pictures of your siblings always showed them with very odd haircuts. Bonus points if your guinea pig had a Mohawk or dreads.

…you never had a favorite color. Who could pick just one?!

…the other kids in school were always asking you to draw stuff for them. Bonus points if they were willing to pay.

…you noticed things, like on sunny days, shadows on snow are…blue! Bonus points if you actually painted them like that. Double bonus points if you got in trouble in art class for doing that.

Be forewarned. Early intervention is helpful, but you never really lose the desire to simply make stuff. And remember—no one who truly cares for you should ever try to make you lose that desire.TCR

craft-matters-luann-udellLuann Udell is a fiber, polymer and mixed-media artist. For more information on Luann and her work, visit her website and her blog.