Embracing Who You Are as an Artist

by Erik Peterson

I have a question for you... which is more important - what you do as an artist or who you are as an artist?

Ok, that’s an easy one, so the singular question remains…

Who are you as an artist?


Our Limited View of Ourselves

The issue of identity is one of the most crucial areas for us as artists to understand and embrace. But it’s not an easy thing to grasp or discern; what we call our identity is a multifaceted evolving of who we are and who are becoming. It’s sometimes very difficult to know just where on this fluid spectrum we are. 

Sometimes we are stuck wearing an identity that feels real, but in fact, is a dying remnant of an old wound. It’s when we readily label ourselves in ways that are comfortable, familiar and destructive all at the same time. When we casually remark to a colleague, “Yeah, I am such a procrastinator!” The joke belies our dreaded belief that in fact, what we are saying about ourselves is true. Maybe we are haunted by a familiar whisper to ourselves that reaffirms “yep I blew it again, that’s just what I do.” Meaning, I am someone who consistently misses the mark and irredeemably fails. Just who I am.

On the other hand, we feel the magnetic draw towards embracing and owning an identity that feels too far out of reach, yet mysteriously and simultaneously feels at home. 

When we see beyond our label, say as a failure, into a ray of possibility that illumines our strength, and resilience, and self-compassion. Or perhaps even further.

Often it is hard to bask in the sunlight of our true identities that move us beyond our limited views of ourselves.

This is the story of where we often find ourselves in the present moment and the promises of our faith. 

Called to See Beyond

Consider Paul’s truth-telling:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” - Ephesians 1:3

Every spiritual blessing! That is a lot of blessings, and guess what, they are all yours here and now. Peace, hope, love, freedom from sin, grace - they are all true for you in Christ. 

There are hundreds of these mind-blowing identity truths in Scripture. (Here are just a few.)

So, back to the question:

Who are you as an artist?

Beware the Ego-Distorted Labels 

You are much more than many of the labels you have worn or that others have told you that you are. Those could be both negative and seemingly positive labels. 

On the one hand, your ego buys into the lies, some of which we explored above (procrastinator, failure). 

On the other hand, our ego loves to do the old bait and switch, taking affirming labels like “you are such a gifted storyteller” and turning them into overinflated buoys of self-importance. “I am an artist and that makes me special - people need to listen to me!”  

Our egos are masters at distorting the good and shielding us from deeper truths about ourselves in Christ.

Who You Really Are as an Artist

  • You are an artist dearly loved by God. 
  • You are blessed with every spiritual blessing. 
  • You are completely, once-and-for-all dead to sin and fully alive in Christ.
  • You are more than your failures. Jesus walks with you, giving you strength and resilience.

As an artist in the body of Christ, you play a unique and important role in Jesus’ ongoing work of redemption - redeeming hearts, minds, families and communities all across the world.

  • You are a seer. You see God’s beauty and reflect it in your work.
  • You are a worshipper. You find great delight in spending time with God. Your art is a joyful act of worship.
  • You are a leader. You lead yourself and others to experience God more fully through the windows of your art, life and relationships.


These, and many more wonderful identity mysteries are yours in Christ. The great news is that you don’t need to “figure out who you are.” Each day, through the circumstances of your life, they are being revealed more and more to you. But, how do you begin seeing them?

  • Meditate on these mysteries and dare to dwell in them.
  • Watch your ego’s labels and shape-shifting dance, especially in your pains, disappointments and failures.
  • In those moments, see how God calls you beyond this small view of yourself, into a wide-open field full of new possibilities for your identity. 

Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, God welcomes you into his house and desires you to stay. Every hall, every room and every person are full of his blessings. 

This is where you now live.