Cowboy in France
I have been having a lot of conversations about the importance of "play" and "creativity" in our work. I am always encouraged to never lose sight of my image as an American from Arizona who was influenced by living in Paris. Unquestionably, the French influence is an integral part of my personal life experience. That's why I love the juxtaposition of an American cowboy who became an artist in Paris. So I agree. Paris is an important part of what has made me who I am. Being from Arizona and living in France is what lead to my own personal background and "uniqueness". This colorful and unique background definitely works for me because people never seem to get enough of the French influence and my "American in Paris" collection.
However, it breaks my heart to hear so many stories from people getting stuck with criticism and completely losing sight of the "joy" in being able to fully express themselves in their work because they are thinking about criticism while trying to access their creativity. So I thought I'd take the time to write an article for you. From my own experience, I find that some of my best work comes when "making mistakes". These "mistakes" allow me to create something that is from a deeper place from the core of my "inner spirit" and much better than I originally planned. In fact, when I'm creating a work of art often the color and texture of a destroyed painting ends up being an integral part of the "background" in my works of art. Sometimes, if there's part of my work that is more innovative, I take what I learned from my mistake on a new canvas which actually turns into a turning point in my work and in my life. So here's my quote for the week:
"Innovation comes from having the courage to not give a damn about criticism!"
What I really mean to say is that sometimes you have to have the courage to fully embrace failure in order to succeed. Does this make sense? So whenever I hear these stories, I recommend that people not create for any critics in their lives and go back to creating just for themselves. I love inspiring people with my personal failures because I know they were absolutely essential to my personal growth. For example, years ago, I remember when I was stuck in my work as a professional Arts Manager. I had spent 7 years of my life there. Don't get me wrong, it was meaningful work and I loved my work and the contribution I made there. But after 7 years I knew I wasn't growing any more. I knew it was time to grow but I failed to have the courage to leave the safety of my well established professional position. Take it from me, if you're not growing, deep down you are probably dying inside...
That's when I finally had to courage to be completely honest with myself that it was time to force myself to grow. So I resigned from my professional position without knowing what in the hell I was going to do. Of course, from a "professional" point of view (and other people's standards) this was a MISTAKE and not a wise thing to do. But I knew it was the fastest way to light a fire under my butt to start a new life. So that day I went home and started a new painting to see what I was made of. I literally went through a metamorphosis in my art and in my life. That's when I finally had a breakthrough in my work with this painting entitled: "Windmills of a Master's Mind". After the painting was finally completed, somehow I started to really "value myself" because I learned what I was made of, not only as an artist but as a leader and a Master of the Arts. So my mistake allowed me to gain confidence in myself and become EXCITED about stepping into my power and higher purpose in life to use my uniqueness as an artist to inspire others.
"Windmills of a Master's Mind"
(Very Large oil on canvas to be on exhibition for the public in the Zermeno Museum)
So afterwards I stared a new completely new life. Of course I was filled with fear in the beginning. Imagine what it feels like to leave a professional position without knowing what was going to happen to you? Suddenly I started taking high-paying art consulting jobs, travelling around the country giving workshops and inspiring large audiences with my short motivational speeches. That's when I finally realized that I was actually really "valuable". My mistake opened the doors, including opportunities to travel the globe. At that time I wanted to stay in Boston, however, so I decided to take an empty building and turn myself into an Executive Director of the Arts and created an organization from the ground up with Art Programs there. Four years later when my organization could stand on it own, of course I was "criticized" for handing it over. People just could not understand why I would leave the safety of my professional position as an Executive Director. But the organization could stand on it's own. My work was done. So I no longer needed to be there, and I wanted to enter the next chapter of my life. Today the organization continues to grow and is a part of my personal legacy. Right now I'm really busy working on my homes and renovating the ZERMENO MUSEUM, but one of my ongoing projects is to complete my inspirational art book which will describe my journey through the arts with more detail. One of the great things I've learned about myself is that even when I fail I always get back up. So I want to be continue to be inspirational to others around the globe with my life experience, and that includes my failures.
So when it comes to navigating your life in your work and play, so what if your work is not recognized by any museum, organization, or any"well-established" institution. I can't tell you how many times I've created what other people consider "failed paintings". That's okay. What they don't know is that many times these paintings are "gems to me" because they reveal hidden meanings and discoveries that are important to ME!!! So there! I give you permission to make mistakes. That's how we learn. In the future, I also plan to write more in detail about this important subject to help and inspire others... One of the great things about being a creative artist is that I don't think like everyone else. In fact, I even want to have an exhibition of my original failed paintings entitled: "ZERMENO: The Failed Works of Art". Why? Because I think it's important for people to understand the importance of having the COURAGE to embrace the necessary failures in the beautiful road of success.
That goes to show you. So what if no one appreciates your work! Just say: "Thank you for sharing. I'll take that into consideration". I always try to remember how HAPPY I was creating and having a GREAT TIME!" Criticism can be very useful. So if you think the criticism is warranted, by all means, go ahead and take the criticism into consideration, as long as you don't let it paralyze you. But it's more important to have the courage to MAKE YOUR OWN MISTAKES and to learn from them. At least I find that to be true for me. Also, don't forget who is criticizing you? Who gave them the right to judge you? What is their interest in you and your work? Why do they even care? What have they accomplished in their life as an artist? See what I mean? Don't you love critics? That's why they are not called "artists". Need I say more? You get the idea... And even if it is well intentioned, learn to accept criticism as a "compliment". That's why I usually think to myself: "Okay, I'll take that into consideration. Now will you kindly excuse me because I want to go back to really enjoying my life." Believe me, I've been there...As an artist I have been been criticized to DEATH! However, I find that when I go back to creating art for myself this "freedom" allows me to overcome being stuck in my art and in my life. And that is absolutely PRICELESS to me. Besides, whether you are an artist or not, here's my personal quote of inspiration for you:
"Creativity should not be about seeking approval." -Zermeno
For me, creativity is about being excited enjoying life creating something new, solving problems, learning, and discovering something about myself and growing as a person. Besides, I'm wise enough to know that failure is not a bad thing, at least not in my book. It only builds character and makes you stronger. This is a metaphor for life. Anyway, back to the subect of play and creativity. Now that the summer is officially over I thought I would go ahead and repost this photo taken while enjoying drawing barefoot on a balcony during the summer in the south of France in my cowboy hat. Here's something to think about: You are unique and there will never be another you in this world ever, EVER again! So don't forget to celebrate your own uniqueness. When I'm dead at least I will leave this world knowing that the uniqueness of Zermeno was inspirational. "Inspiration" is who I am and what I stand for! I hope my words of wisdom were useful to you.
Celebrate Your Uniqueness!