My Name Is Smiler, and I’m a Recovering Blocked Artist.

For nearly 20 years, I made a very decent living as an art director, first in advertising and eventually at a national women’s magazine. I had originally studied fine arts, my first love, but decided to pursue commercial arts instead, figuring I had better chances of making ends meet that way. While things went well for me professionally, creatively speaking, I suffered in silence. All too rarely having the opportunity to fully develop my best ideas, usually because marketing surveys, focus groups, and business people had the last word—with creativity being the least of their priorities—my own creativity was retreating little by little, as I had no energy of drive to work on my own projects on what little free time I had left for such things. While I had access to budgets allowing me to hire extremely talented and accomplished professionals from around the world—designers, photographers, illustrators, stylists and so on—I ultimately felt more and more like a fraud and that my own accomplishments were nothing more than sheer dumb luck, compared to those truly talented people who seemed to have endless reserves of energy, motivation, talent and drive.

Some 15 years ago, I had the immense honour of participating at a workshop at the School of Visual Arts in NYC given by the Great Milton Glazer, who was a recipient of the National Medal of Art in February 2010, presented by President Obama. This one-week intensive taught me lessons about creativity unlike any I had ever experienced before yet at the same time seemed to speak directly to my own sensibilities, and it is not an exaggeration to say that I fell in love with his brilliant mind as a great thinker and an accomplished artist. Although I am not at liberty to disclose what took place during that workshop, I can say that the tools he gave us will stay with me for the rest of my life. “You must draw every day” was something he emphasized very strongly, and as I went about being the best art director and executive I could be, I felt I had failed to follow through on the great teachings of a creative guru.

Those who have been following this blog have seen my earlier attempts at reconnecting with creativity for it’s own sake, and I can’t emphasize enough that for me, the journey so far has been a very humbling one. In Zen Buddhism, the concept of Beginner’s Mind is a very important aspect of the practice. My interpretation of Beginner’s Mind is that one should approach every endeavour as a child would, with no preconceived notions, no judgment, and a willingness to try things no matter how unfamiliar. I’ve spent a good part of my life being a student of the creative process and I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Beginner’s Mind is the source of all great creative accomplishments. And it begins with a willingness to try and try, again and again and again while being kind toward our efforts, and keeping harsh criticism at bay.

My blog profile starts with the adage : “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time”. The project createthreesixty5 grew out of a desire to share my journey of recovery as an artist, one small step at a time. I believe we are all creative. Some are more technically proficient, and others less so, but this is irrelevant for our purposes here. The most important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as “bad art” when the work comes from a desire to simply explore possibilities. Although as I child I admired the great Renaissance artists for their masterful ability to create realistic images, I am now more interested in children’s drawings, doodles, goofs & spills, unusual combinations and “happy accidents”.

I sincerely hope others will be just as excited as I am to embark on this createthreesixty5 journey which officially begins on Thursday April 15th, but which for me is the continuation of the work of a lifetime.

From Smiler, with Love.

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8 thoughts on “My Name Is Smiler, and I’m a Recovering Blocked Artist.

  1. This project seems like another natural step on your journey, nw you have put it in context. I think it will be the perfect safe and supportive place to keep nurturing the artistic flame within you. And I think that is just great :)

  2. I love this, it makes want to, or at least, attempt to write and paint again! I never painted well, it was just enjoyable for me and was a great outlet.I feel like the 9-5 work schedule zaps all my creative energy, but I will set aside some time to write or doodle a bit!

  3. Mad: blocked or not blocked, you're one talented cat, that's for sure and I hope you WILL join with your contributions whenever you like, I'd be honoured!

  4. Littlewolfe: amen to that. Bob-kat: as you say, it just feels like another step on my journey. Sometimes I get scared because it feels like a big one, but I just remind myself to go at my own pace. I hope you'll join. You are too talented not to share some of the goodness with us. Emm: I know you've got a lot on your plate, but I look forward to your contributions. Nat: I know what you mean about 9-5. It has a way of doing that. But I find that even with all the time I have on my hands, I rarely have the energy to work on projects as much as I'd like. Glad you're feeling inspired. That's the general idea; to just keep inspiring each other.

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