I have this theory: that our society tends to view being academic and being artistic as mutually exclusive. I didn’t see the latter in myself because everyone else saw the former.

Basically, I was good at school, so I was put in the academic category. And while I did well in art class and on creative writing assignments, I never won any prizes and didn’t feel prodigious. I still don’t. I have always thought that to be a real artist you had to be prodigious – the rest of us with a creative streak just do art as a hobby.

Childhood creativity

Bluey and Pinky visit London, with a bit of help from Photoshop (actually GIMP).

Growing up, my sister and I named every single one of our soft toys, building families and even careers for some of them. We ghostwrote songs for them (“Bluey Goes Round” is one example). We wrote other songs too, and we still do. I loved crafting short stories for school and on at least five occasions, I’ve attempted to start a novel.

I didn’t realise any of this was atypical until I was well into adulthood. I discovered other people’s childhood soft toys had far more pedestrian names and limited-to-non-existent backstory.

Still, I wasn’t convinced that I was an artist or a true creative. Those kinds of people seem to see life in a totally different, more rainbow and fluid way. Those kinds of people say things like, “I need to paint” and “Music is my life”. That’s not me.

Writing as a young adult

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, a couple of years after graduating from university, that I started to invest more time and effort in my writing. People would tell me I was a good writer. It was empowering to lean into this and find my flow and in doing so, I’ve not only become a better writer, but I’ve come to understand that I process life through writing.

Photo credit: Tong Nguyen van.

Lately, I am starting to think that something in me is not just an above average writer, not just someone with a creative streak. But maybe, just maybe, there might just be an artist in me.


Believe me when I say it is super awkward to type this out and know that others will read this claim, this confession.

We all know those people who are gifted in painting, music, poetry. Again – not me.


The correlation between content and art

Luke Burgis describes creating content as, essentially, the superficial version of making art. The former is a thin desire where the latter is thick:

Thin desires are highly mimetic, fleeting, unsustainable, easy to pursue, and ultimately disappointing if you place your hope in them. Thick desires have substance. They nourish you at your core. They have continuity. They compound. They lead to something real.

Luke Burgis

I find his pairing of creating content as a thin desire with making art as a thick desire enlightening (other thin/thick pairs he offers include: to be looked at/to be seen; sex/union; vacation/leisure).

Having found my sweet spot professionally in content marketing, this correlation between content and art strikes a chord in me. Content is something I lean towards naturally, that I love learning more about. I love it because it is about adding value to people’s lives, not just selling or promoting a product.

And I love it because in all the content I have created for work – particularly for larger events or campaigns – there is a seed or seedling of art

Art, magic and transcendence

It’s been dawning on me that writing, for me, isn’t just fun, isn’t just creating beauty, isn’t just a hobby. It’s more than a vehicle for expressing my opinions or even my identity.

It is a whole way of understanding and making sense of the world and our existence in it. 

Photo credit: Greg Rakozy.

That’s a big part of why this blog exists. Journalling is one thing; pulling thoughts together for public consumption is another level of synthesis.

When I do this, my inner artist is making meaning. Isn’t that what art is? And isn’t that kind of magical?

Getting into the flow state in writing feels magical.

Singing, playing and composing music, even in my amateur way, feels magical.

I don’t think this desire to “make art” is peculiar to me – after all, art is a deeply human thing. I’m sure I’m not the only one with an inner artist. There’s a good chance you’re reading this and you write or paint or play music or engage in some other sort of creative endeavour that is a bit more than just fun, a bit more than just creating beauty, a bit more than just a hobby.

I’m not saying this in an “everyone can learn to draw” way. I’m not even saying this in Tom and David Kelley’s “everyone is creative” way. What I’m saying is that regardless of our skill level in our particular way of making art, we should lean into that part of who we are. Doing so is a way to make meaning. Doing so is a way both to embrace and transcend our humanity.

Header image: Huynh Nguyen.

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