After being thoroughly entertained by a skilled disk jockey (DJ) at a party on Saturday night, I was asked by a fellow party-goer whether I consider a DJ to be a true artist. A DJ usually does very little but select the music that is played and determine when it's played - there are of course some exceptions. Occasionally the DJ modifies some of the sounds that are created but rarely goes beyond, so as to dramatically alter the aural output.
An artist is usually defined as someone who produces works of art. So the logical step in figuring out whether a DJ is an artist is to look at his output - a finely tuned collage of musical choice. In that sense a DJ is more like a museum curator than a true artist - since the DJ purely arranges the true works of art.
But in the end, I concluded that a DJ is a true artist. This is so because a DJ's true job is to create a mood, an emotional state for a collection of individuals. In the end, that is exactly what most other artists strive to do - including architects and other non-traditional creatives. The DJ paints the portrait of the night by using less-basic components - i.e. songs.