Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Linda L. Belgrave

Second Committee Member

John W. Murphy

Third Committee Member

Jomills H. Braddock II

Fourth Committee Member

Nathan J. Timpano


This dissertation explored the process of art-making for visual artists through a sociological perspective. Visual artists are distinct in that they interact with and manipulate physical materials on a daily basis in order to visually communicate and share with other people. A visual artist’s creative artistic process is typically considered an expression of individualism and inter-subjectivity, however, this project investigated the social context of making artwork. The aim of this dissertation was to ground artists’ processes in their experiences and practices. This study used a qualitative method to explore artists’ work in order to understand the ways these artists engaged in and constructed socially shared meaning when making original artwork. Specifically, the methodology used was grounded theory, which relies on simultaneous data collection and analysis. Twenty in-depth interviews and three follow-up interviews were conducted with professional visual artists in the South Florida area as the source of data for this project. The findings were a result of identifying initial codes, determining focused codes, writing memos, forming categories, developing theoretical themes, and visual mapping from the data. Five major themes were analyzed and form a conceptual framework: Shaping Practices, Development and Mastery, Doing Art, Immersion, and Fulfillments. The conceptual framework shows that artists’ creative process is not linear but instead continuous and reciprocal. Overall, artists’ art-making process is dynamic and occurs through multiple dimensions of experience when they apply learned artistic conventions, and when creating originality in their artwork. Artists’ process reflects the ways people interact and internalize socially shared meaning in the context of making artwork, and the ways in which artists break conventions by engendering novelty with their art.


Visual Artists; Grounded Theory; Symbolic Interactionism; Pragmatism; Qualitative Research; Creativity