Just a refresher (more for me than anything), my big question is "How do we, as humans, manufacture our own happiness merely through our thoughts?" Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man fits perfectly with this question. Stephen personifies the idea of "manufactured happiness". However, his manufactured happiness is not meant to seem fake or superficial, but it is merely his honest happiness that we see through his soul.
His "portrait" is his soul and he is an artist because through his life, he is painting the portrait of his soul. With each experience and new endeavor, Stephen adds a little more paint to the canvas and carves a little more of his sculpture. He manufactures his happiness through his constant artistry. Through Stephen's story, Joyce shows that each person in and of themselves is an artist. Whether we have any talent to draw, sculpt, sing, or dance doesn't matter. Each person has a soul and each soul must be created piece by piece. Joyce is showing that it doesn't require natural artistic talent to be an artist, because every person is born with an innate talent for art and a medium through which to express that art.