“Can’t draw or paint, must be an artist.”

Stuart Jeffries writing for the UK Guardian, conducted a fawning interview with Jeremy Deller, winner of the esteemed Turner Prize. When the reporter asked, “You can’t draw, you can’t paint – how do you get the nerve to call yourself an artist?”, Deller replied, “The thing is – the world has moved on. You’re not writing with quills on parchment. Why is art the only thing that can’t progress in terms of the means of production?”

Today many of us jot down our thoughts using a keyboard and various software programs, sharing our writings via email. Nonetheless, most of us interested in communicating with others use a language the recipients of our ideas can readily understand. If you do not follow the rules of punctuation, spelling and grammar, if you’ve abandoned all literary standards, if you’ve ceased writing altogether… can you still call yourself a writer? Would the same logic apply to a physician? If you were acquainted with someone who claimed to be a doctor but possessed no undergraduate medical training and no medical degree, would you choose that individual as your surgeon?

If a man who can’t draw or paint proclaims himself to be an artist, and is then handsomely rewarded for his delusion, then perhaps I should abandon my career as an artist and proclaim myself a specialist in cardiology. The pay would certainly be better.

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