I was both saddened and happy to read the replies in this thread; sad because so many of you who make beauty from nothing more than sticks and string don't see yourselves as artists. Happy because some of you do.
I've been a full time professional artist for about 30 years now, and have a lot of projects under my belt. I even have a piece of work in the Smithsonian.
But it's not credentials that make an artist. Long before I started racking up a professional portfolio, I tried to create beauty, wherever I could, however I could, to the best of my ability at that time. As I lived longer, I learned more, and used what I learned to make things around me more ideal, more beautiful. And all this was long before I had lifted a single paintbrush, written a single word or done much in the way of traditional "art".
Moms, if you've ever put a hot meal on the table for your family that they could sit down to at the end of a long day, relax and enjoy, you were being an artist. Creating peace and ease around you is a beautiful gift. Everyone, if you've ever helped a friend in need and made them feel stronger and more able rather than weak and inept, you were creating the purest kind of art. If you've ever looked at a room, envisioned how it could look better and MADE IT HAPPEN - hey! you created something artful.
Right now my big project is writing a book for knitters about how to design their own cotton knits. But there are lots of patterns, too, for those who just want to make something beautiful. If their interest doesn't extend to designing, that's A-OK. It's that creative IMPULSE to take something in a picture, or their own vision, and make it real, for themselves and others, that's sadly lacking in a sometimes ugly old world. And that's where anyone can be an artist.
Hopefully this little rant will resonate with some of you and help you recognize your own artistic identity. If so, let's hear it! So, how many of you are artists?