Lost in Translation



I think a lot about art and identity. I've even written about it once before.

Nearly every artist I know seems to struggles with identity. They aren't sure how to describe and explain themselves to others.

We don't fit. We recognize that, but it's still frustrating. Other people (non-artists) just don't "get" us. They ask us questions:

"Are you working, or just ____________?"

Just fill in the blank: drawing, doodling, writing, singing, sketching, thinking, playing music, etc.

Language Barrier

A couple of years ago I discovered that I don't speak the same language as everyone else. I was at STORY2010, and reading through a passage in The War of Art. Steven Pressfield was explaining about a topic I never really understood; yet the way he explained the term and the reactions it evokes finally clicked for me. It was one of those "of course!" moments.

I started to realize I might not speak the same language as everyone else.


Over the next year, I've wrestled with this idea of a language barrier between artists and...well...everyone else. I've struggle to figure out how my art fits in with my identity. I'm often told and reminded, in the church, that my identity must be in Christ alone. That sounds right, but art is so much a part of my life that it feels like it should be at the center as well.

During this time, I read Pursuing Christ. Creating Art by Gary Molander, who states right at the beginning.

"An artist is a heart condition, not a job."

While not an explicit statement of identity, these words gave me another tool. Art may not be at the very core of my identity, but it's damn close. In fact, it's so close to the core that it changes the way I see, perceive and engage with the world.

It's like a lens that changes the way I see and understand things.

What I've discovered recently is that I'm not alone. There are other people that have the same lens. They see the world the same way I do. They get me.

These people just so happen to be artists as well.


What I've found at STORY is community and connection with other artists. For two days I get to hang out with people who get me and understand me. I don't have to translate what I hear or what I say.

I want every artist to feel that connection.

Last weekend I hosted a meet-up, a gathering, for artists in my church. We talked about this very concept; inspiration, identity and creation.

You should try something like that.

Go to STORY and discover what it feels like to hang out with other artists, makers and creators. Then go home, and build your own meet-up. You might be surprised to find there are others around you who speak your language. People who might get you.

It may not sound easy to start something like this. If you need some help, I'm happy to chat with you about it.