Monday, March 20, 2017

Admit it. Do it. Share it.

After the initial realization that I was an "artist in denial," I couldn't stop thinking about it. As I mentioned in my first post "I Know I'm Not Alone," I knew there had to be plenty of people out there that were just as inexplicably unhappy as I was. If I could share my revelation, maybe I could help some of them. From the beginning, I knew I needed to create some kind of educational component. The structure I came up with was based on three pillars: admit it, do it, and share it.

It had taken me 50 years to figure out why I was unhappy. How many people just "suck it up" and convince themselves they're making something out of nothing? That first pillar is the big one. Admit it. I think that's been the hardest thing for me. Saying that I'm an "artist" doesn't mean that I make my primary living as an artist. Rather, it means that "artist" is a primary definition of who I am. Creating is not something that I want to do. It's something that I need to do. But, the title "artist" comes with so much baggage, (at least in the U.S.) it's a scary thing to admit. Even when people mean well and are trying to be supportive, they'll say things like: "you've always been creative, I wish I could be artsy fartsy." So, you can get tempted to try to tell yourself "it's OK I don't look good in black and I really don't want to get tattoos and body piercings at my age any way." There's a couple of future posts wrapped up in there, but I think I made my point. It's really hard to admit that you're an artist in your soul. It's much easier to continue suppressing the need to create and focus on "things that really matter." It's much easier to just stay in denial. To some degree, I don't know if it will ever get any easier. Maybe it needs to be hard. More future posts.

So, when I got back from Louisville, I told my new artist friend about my epiphany. That's when he suggested that I read Julia Cameron's "The Artists Way." What a fabulous book. Everything I read completely lined up with my vision of Artist in Denial. I knew that this would be the base curriculum for my course. But it couldn't stop there. Once you admit you are an artist. You have to create. Whatever that means. Drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, creating music. Whatever your art is, you need to do it. That's where you will find your true joy.

The last step is to share it. Art is an incredibly personal experience. Whether it's creating it or appreciating it, it's intensely personal. When art touches someone on a personal level, it's a powerful thing. To realize that there is someone else out there who feels the same way you do, believes the same things you do, appreciates the same things you do, it's a magical thing. So, after you do it, you need to share it. Somebody will appreciate. Somebody might actually need it. If you have the ability, why would you deny it to others?



  1. Zack,
    BRAVO! Being an artist requires cultivating both sensitivity AND toughness and I applaud you on your self-examination and admission that not making art was the root of your unhappiness. Your willingness to help others realize that this may be the source of their own unhappiness speaks volumes about who you are. Full disclosure: I'm the artist friend that originally got Zack examining his life and attitudes toward making art. Over the years we've had many wonderful and memorable conversations. Congratulations, Zack! To any readers, join the conversation! I look forward to hearing others thoughts and comments.

    1. I look forward to hearing the thoughts and comments of others as well. I know there are a lot of people out there with a lot to say. I want this to be the forum where they can have meaningful conversations with like-minded individuals.