On Being Brand New

How to Be an Artist, in part. By SARKOnly once do we have the chance to ACTUALLY be brand new.

We arrive on the earth, sticky and discombobulated, completely unprepared for all this light and noise.

From then on, we are experienced. We’ve seen it all. So we have to do all manner of contortions to reinvent ourselves.

The book I am reading right now is sort of a self-help for writers. It’s called “Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper,” by an author I really admire. She has many books out that are very successful yet totally unique. You’ll recognize them instantly by their bright colors and hand-written text. She goes by SARK.

In the book, she tells the story of one of her most famous published works. You’ve probably seen it. It’s a poster called “How To Be an Artist.” The story is set in her “magic cottage” where she started out, before she was ever published.

“It (the “How to Be an Artist” poster) was my colorfully written statement that we are all artists of Life. I took this crooked, color full page to a store in San Francisco. They also had a catalog, and agreed to publish a photo of the poster once to see if anybody liked it. The orders flooded in and I ended up making 11,000 by hand. There are now over one million Artist posters in print.” — SARK

Something about this story whispers in my ear, with reverb that travels into the deepest recesses. It’s where I hide my fears. The places I am certain I will fail, so I leave well enough alone. The place where I conjure up another witty or even snarky remark about Someone Else to distract myself and anyone from my calling which has not been satisfied.

Everyday, for any reason, it seems, we are offered the chance to reinvent ourselves. We can suddenly become parents, or pop idols, or in the case of SARK, an artist creating exactly the message she desires, whilst still being able to pay the rent. I am working on something like that, I guess, (though I only now managed to add this sentence, in a second edit).

You know that feeling you get, standing  in line for the tall fast roller coaster? Your legs melting from the core and your stomach rolling?

That’s exactly what I am feeling right now. Telling you.

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

  3 comments for “On Being Brand New

  1. Jill Koertner
    August 20, 2010 at 5:12 am

    I love SARK and I think you are absolutely amazing. Go get ’em.

  2. Colin
    August 20, 2010 at 8:03 am

    From the first time that you read your own words aloud to me I have believed in your limitless potential as an writer. My conviction has only been reinforced with each new piece. This is your medium. This is your time.

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