Think of what you consider to be your professional calling. It needn’t be what you actually do to put beans on the table; it can be what you aspire to work at as well. Is there one living person, famous or otherwise, whom you consider the absolute tops? Someone you think of when you judge your own work? Someone whose level of skill you either aspire to reach or whom you think you can never rival, but nevertheless use as a benchmark?
Who is that person, and why?
This question should not be restricted to artists. Physicians, engineers, scientists, and even salesmen are as welcome to post as musicians, painters, and writers.
Answering my own question…
I make my living as a corporate drone, not a writer of fiction, but the latter is where my heart is. When I think of what effect I hope to have on my readers, I think of the novel A Recent Martyr, by Valerie Martin. There are endless numbers of writers who make more money than she, but none whom I look forward to reading more, and none I would rather emulate in artistic merit.