Let's assume that you will buy a new camera. If you are going to create serious art, sell your services for weddings and portraits or even make it a serious hobby, an SLR (probably a digital) will best suit your needs. They allow you the most creative options with large image sensors, interchangible lenses, filters and attachments.
On the other hand, if you are looking to document your life, want ease of use and the best quality a point and shoot camera can deliver, consider the Canon G12, the Nikon P7000 or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5.
I do not own any of these cameras but one is on my wish list. The links take you to Amazon where you can read many user reviews and associated comments yourself.
You will see many cheaper point and shoot cameras. When you evaluate their features and quality, these are the cameras that they should be compared to.