‘What is it to be an artist?’ asks Katy Rose Bennett


Katy Rose Bennett is a Drake Music Artist-in-Residence for 2022.

“I think it is to be an inventor of space. To create something that no-one has ever heard or seen before. Just to create. That is what it is to be an artist.” L, my 8 year-old son

I asked my son the question ‘What is it to be an artist?’.  Above is his response.

Just to create. I’ll have that.

The trouble with this modern world is that, as an artist, it is also necessary to be your own publicist, social media manager, administrator, funding bid writer, strategist, etc etc. So, to preserve time solely for the very act of creating almost seems indulgent until you remember that is the reason for everything else. It is the core.

As an Artist -in-Residence (AiR) at Drake Music, I am in that privileged position of just being able to create. Yes, there are bits of admin and less creative tasks necessary to do but, these are not central. My role is to create in response to being at Drake Music, with a huge amount of practical, financial, technical, musical, and emotional support from the organisation.

Our Wednesday morning check-ins have become an anchor point in my week for the last 6 months, as have the weekly individual support meetings with artist liaison Lisa Heywood. Cats have featured heavily on most zoom calls, including my own feline agent of chaos, Lily Galadriel (see image). I’ll feel a little lost when the residency comes to an end in December 2022. Despite some of us never having met in person, the Drake Music Collective team have become an important part of my life.

A small tabby kitten claws its way up someone's grey hoodie. The photo is taken by that person who is looking down. You can see the person's stomach, legs and socks. They are wearing black jeans and purple socks with white circles on them.
Lily the tabby kitten claws her way up Katy Rose Bennett’s hoodie

For me, personally, there is quite a lot of guilt attached to being an artist – guilt that I’m not doing something more useful or more productive (ah, the shackles of capitalism) and guilt that I am taking up this space, that someone else could do a better job and would be more deserving.

Even the word ‘artist’ has taken me a while to accept in referring to myself. Growing up, for me an artist was a painter or a sculptor or someone with odd socks making conceptual art for the Turner Prize. I have historically felt fraudulent using the singular word artist when describing myself.

But why?

I create something that no one has ever heard or seen before’ so therefore I’m an artist (according to my son).

I am an artist.

Art is vital.

It is important. It helps us live fulfilled, joyful lives. It helps us feel. It helps us feel less alone. It connects us to each other. And when I think about art in that way, I know its importance in the world. We need it now more than ever. We need art and we need those who make it.

Katy Rose Bennett