It is about the stories we tell…

The things we learn and discover everyday. The moments we remember forever even the ones that happened years ago. That beautiful feeling you got at that event. The first time you interacted with that person. That inspiration that began your journey. The experience of being in nature. The creative idea that you get when you are watching that show, reading that book or listening to that podcast. The design on that piece of clothing. The way the food on your plate is presented. That conversation you didn’t expect to have. The dream that you had that leads to your next idea. Some personal experiences that you can’t specifically describe but can put the general idea through a creative form.

Life is full of so many stories that are waiting to be presented. Stories about the simple things. Stories about the complex philosophies. Stories about the small details. Stories about the big ideas. Stories, that is how we make the most sense of the world. A narrative that is fun and interesting, the core of the human experience. And that is what I get inspired by and present through my art and creativity. What story are you going to tell today?

Imperfection is Your Superpower

Perfection. Everything being the way it is supposed to be. Sticking to the plan point to point. Measured to the exact scale, every object being at the right place. The angles all need to be correct. The to do list needs all tasks ticked off. You need to reach that place at the exact time, not too early not too late. And on and on. My artist creative brain has a problem with that for some things. For me, perfection is overrated (I know at this point some of you judging me, but I am just sharing my opinion here. You may have a different one and that’s ok).

As a creator, yes I believe in measurements, scaling, following the guidelines for some works. You should see me then. Drawing, erasing, re-drawing until I get it right, until it looks good enough, satisfactory enough. Or when I need to frame a piece, and need to find the perfect color and material of the frame that would look good for the exhibition. Or when I clean and organize my studio and everything has to be in its place so that after that I can fully focus on my painting. In those cases, I want things to be as close to perfect as they can (I say as close to perfect, because nothing can ever be fully perfect).

And yet…Things happen. Mistakes get made. There are some works, even after all the planning and measurements, the measurements seem off or don’t work for that particular piece, and in the end I decide to go with the flow and freehand it. And that “fixes” the work. Or I reach the exhibition venue and realize a better color or style would have stood out more, but the previous choice still looks good and I stand by it. Or I look for something and get stressed because I can’t find it, can’t remember where I put it, and after a few minutes I do, and I laugh at where it was.

You know what I consider my best works to be? The ones where I create with no concrete plan in mind, just a basic rough idea. The ones where I give full control to my hand and let it go do it’s thing. The ones where I let the painting talk to me and guide me. The ones where I have no idea what the end result will be. Because that is when I totally am in the zone and one with my work.

The night before one of my big exhibitions, I was restless and nervous about my speech. I had written it all out and had been practicing it for days, had it memorized word for word. I was ready. It was so-called perfect. But, something in my gut didn’t feel right. My instinct was giving me a bad feeling. Whenever I talk about my art, it comes naturally, straight from my heart. And this speech didn’t feel like that. So, I ripped it up and threw it in the trash. I deleted everything I had rehearsed from my brain. A new start. And on exhibition day, I spoke from my soul. I was me. And my instinct was happy. Till today, that is what I do with speeches. Speak naturally from the heart. Just like where my art comes from.

My point is… we shouldn’t aim for perfection. We should just be our human imperfect selves. Because what is relatable, what connects each of us is this side of us. Because that is how the best of each of us comes out. Because that is our uniqueness. Because that is how we shine our light. And because our perfection is not our superpower. Our imperfection is.

A Life Update…

I will be honest. I have been struggling. Been feeling stuck, lost, unmotivated as Gurm the artist. I see the ideas in my head, but every time I want to bring it to vision, my hands shake and I lose my confidence. I want to write these words but am scared of how people will react when they read them. I want to record a video but can’t seem to set up the camera. It’s a natural feeling, I know. It happens with the best of the creatives. So, I have been really reflecting on all that and hence this post.

There are three types of artists. And I am guilty of having been all three.

The first one feels the pressure and turns that competition into inspiration. How dare you feel unmotivated? This is supposed to come naturally to you. Just pick up that pen or brush and start – force it if you have to. You need to plant the seed and look how your plant will bloom. Look at other people posting consistently, putting themselves out there, and getting results. And you? You are just going to sit there and get nothing done. What kind of creator does that? Get up and do it. Come on. You can get those results too, you know. Just be sure not to make any mistakes. Sometimes that works, it motivates you and you get going and actually produce some of your best work. But sometimes it doesn’t. Forcing something that doesn’t come from your soul and you are just creating for the sake of creating makes the block worse and you sink deeper and deeper.

Then there are those who are actually less interested in how much they produce and more interested in how much they can explore through their art. Going to places never seen before and creating those pieces that have never been created. Learning something new. Discovering a new path on the adventure. Just taking that risk. That is a fun way for an artist to just play. This has helped me many a times to just enjoy the feeling of art again and gaining my confidence back. But it is also a risk, trying something new and knowing that it might not work. And maybe this can’t become your style.

The third one is the safe way. Being in your comfort zone and coming back to it now and again because you just need that safe space. That feeling that you can’t go wrong with it, and it will relax you. It feels like home. But the thing is: do you want to limit yourself and stay there? It feels good but eventually you will urge to want to do something different.

Each path has its pros and cons. And it is to each their own to decide which way to go. You see, you need to nurture your creative pot with the right amount of water, air and sunlight. Too much and it withers. And too less and it will not grow. Need that balance. Would love to know: what works for you when you get this feeling? How do you find yourself again?

Facing the fear of the unknown

I love to grow, learn, develop, experiment and explore as an artist. Try new things. Get out of my box. Get inspired by that new style or materials and my heart thinks “I want to do that too”. Dream about something I have always wanted to draw (but haven’t yet) and suddenly have the urge to just go for it.

But then the fear and insecurities of the unknown creep up on me. I just want to stay in my warm comfortable blanket and not go out and face the wind and changing of the seasons. I just want to stay in the shallow part of my art pool and not climb up the diving board and dive into the deep part. But I know if I don’t, then I will be stuck in the same place. I won’t be able to evolve.

So, like any new thing I do, I take it slow. Step by step, day by day. If I can’t go out and face the wind, I get out of bed and get dressed. If I can’t gather up the courage to go up to the board, I swim a little deeper (just a little), from the shallow part I am in. If my hands shake just thinking about attempting that particular style, I draw just one stroke, and leave the rest for the next day. And that is enough. That is more than enough. Because it is progress. It is not nothing.

The beautiful thing about this is that you get better each day. You learn something new about yourself. That hard, difficult stuff, those feelings of doubt, soon melt away. And if you don’t get it right the first time, or even second time, you pick yourself up and try again. And again. You do it because you don’t fear the unknown anymore, you are starting to enjoy it.  And as time passes, and you patiently go through it step by step, it doesn’t feel new anymore. It becomes a part of you. And now you are ready for the next new thing on your list.

The Social Media Journey

As an artist and content creator, for me, posting on social media is an important part of what I do.

Ahh…social media and its standards. You need to put your best foot forward, show only the good days and good life you are living. You need to edit the photos, have good lighting, can’t have that strand of hair seeming out of place, can’t show your artwork with that color like that. You need to plan your posts word by word so it is well written. See the timing of the post so it can go viral and reach the maximum number of people. Follow the rules. Be picture perfect.

And then there is being an artist and its standards. Be vulnerable. Show the behind the scenes and work in progress, natural and unedited. Express your human feelings and emotions. Go with the flow, play, experiment and explore. The right time to post is now, in this moment. The people who want to see it will. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, find your own unique creative expression. Be your perfectly imperfect self.

The truth is… I find the balance between both. I do what works for me, how I feel comfortable. And you should do the same.  You know what, the ride is not easy. Some days there are bumps on the road and you get stuck in a big traffic jam. Other days you are the only one on the road and it is a smooth flow. Some days it can feel really daunting and other days it feels so amazing.

That’s a part of the journey. And that is what makes it so beautiful and interesting- travelling through all kinds of weather, all kinds of paths. The important thing is to keep trying, you will get there. Another important thing is to know when to step away. There are days when I don’t post or engage and just need to step away for a bit and that is completely ok.

When I see other people’s posts and achievements on social media, I don’t see it as competition, I see it as inspiration. I don’t feel jealous, I feel hopeful. That is the beauty of being connected by humanity- we all have struggles, and we all have accomplishments. We all have low days and we all have high days. So why not support and encourage each other?

Fear and Courage: Opposites That Go Hand In Hand

Following your passion. Listening to your heart. Doing what you really enjoy. Making something you love into a career. That is the path I chose when I decided to pursue art and content creation full time. The decision for me was both full of fear and courage, both simple and difficult. Fear and courage, two opposites and yet they go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other.

Fear is often looked at as a negative word. It keeps us from fulfilling our purpose. It holds us back. It freezes us. It gives us a million reasons why not to do that thing. Why not to start a conversation with that person. Why not to dive deep into that situation. But, fear can also be positive. It is what leads us to discover our strengths. It is what gives us the power to overcome, and triumph over it. It allows us to discover our determined side. It brings us to courage.

The courage to take a risk. The courage to embrace uniqueness. The courage to challenge the way things are done by the book. The courage to do what may seem strange to others, but for you it’s normal. The courage to show people that what they thought was impossible is actually I am possible.

For me, this battle between fear and courage resulted in courage taking the victory. And though, still today, sometimes the fear lingers for a while, courage eventually overpowers it.

So, the real question is what will you do? Will you let the fear of society stop you or will you follow your calling? The choice is yours.

Dealing with Failures and Disappointments

As both an artist and human, I have faced failures and disappointments. There are times when the things and situations that you were so sure would work (for me that includes collaborations, trying a new idea for a painting, the audience’s positive reaction, being strong confident me), end up not working out at all (events getting cancelled, a totally messy work, different views of opinions, me freezing and being speechless). And in those cases, sometimes it really hurts. It stings. You feel helpless and frustrated. And that is understandable and natural. That is a part of being human.

But once the shock wears off, you realize that these things happened for a reason, even if you may not see it in the moment. There was a purpose for this, it was protecting you from something and leading you to something bigger and better. These failures make you stronger. These disappointments teach you a life lesson, and if you are comfortable, you can inspire other people with it. These rejections show you that you need to keep going, even if it feels hard.

And as you experience life more and more, and interact more and more with different kinds of people, it gets easier. You realize this is just a part of life. You win some, you lose some. There are some people you realize you won’t fit well with if you collaborate and there are other people that you feel that click with in just one conversation. There are ideas that won’t turn into reality, and there are ideas that turn out much better than you could have ever imagined. There are moments of insecurities and there are moments of strength. Whatever life throws at you, you will get through it. Just like you have before. Just keep going.

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Being comfortable with stepping into the uncomfortable. Being confident in taking one step out of your safe place. Attempting something you have never done before or re-attempting something that once failed in order to grow and develop. Experimenting with something new just to see what happens. Doing it even when you have no idea what the result will be. Stepping out of your comfort zone. It is terrifying. It takes guts.

You hear contradicting voices in your head. One says “I am already proud of you just for making the decision to go for it. You got this!”. And the other says “Are you crazy? What do you think you are doing? This is never going to work”.

The question is: which voice will you let win? Will you stay in your safe place, I am comfortable, I am going to avoid that first step on that scary path? Or will the determined side of you come out and you will decide to go on that walk and explore a new way?

For me, I have had both experiences. As an artist, my comfort zone is… that’s right, you guessed it, patterns. And that will always be my happy, safe, the thing I return to place. It comes naturally to me, it is fun, it is easy. And the other stuff is not as easy. Not that I don’t love it- I enjoy every bit of it. But it takes more time to figure out, more effort, more attempts to make it.

But, it is all worth it. Whenever we start something new, it is not easy, right? But as we practice more and more, it soon becomes part of your comfort zone. It doesn’t feel that terrifying or “omg, I have to do that now” anymore. It becomes a routine. And that walk on a new pathway is actually beautiful, a change for the better, an expansion of yourself and your work.

So I will keep exploring and experimenting as both an artist and person. What about you?

My Inner Critic and Inner Artist are friends

Today (the day I am writing this) was one of those days. The day I didn’t feel like doing anything. Whatever I tried to do, it felt like I messed everything up. The words aren’t coming out right, I didn’t post today, the canvas is not looking good, I don’t want to vlog, and I tried to apply for that opportunity but couldn’t bring myself to. The day my inner critic was at its strongest, the day I feel like giving up. The day I should take as a sign to slow down, breathe, take it one step at a time, but I put pressure on myself to accomplish something. Anything. At least finish one task. Just sort this out already. There has to be something you can complete successfully. I want to go back in my safe cocoon, just hide away and escape from the world.

But then I hear my inner artist voice. A quiet but super strong whisper. Right at the tip of my tongue, trying to get out. So I clear my mind and listen to what it says. It is asking me “what do you need?”.  It is telling me “I am not the opposite of your inner critic. We can actually all cooperate together”.

My inner critic. The one that gives me tough love. The one that tells me that “today your emotions are a little much and that’s ok. You just need a break.” The one that helps me overcome the obstacles and fight the battles. The one that shows me that like life, art is not all black and white. It’s ok to be in a grey area. It’s ok to try something new and fail. It’s ok to have doing nothing days.

My inner artist. The one that says take that pressure, take those expectations, take that fear, take that guilt and turn it into a piece of creativity. Honor those human feelings and give it a little extra love and care. Take that creative risk. Forget everything and everyone else for a minute and do something just for yourself. Cherish these moments without any labels (they are not good or bad, they are not beautiful or ugly), just be.

And so I listen. I listen to both the critic and artist, I listen to my heart and gut and take my next step from there.

The next time you hear your inner critic or inner artist, stop what you are doing and just listen. Let your instinct do its thing. Go with the flow. The answers will come. And you will know what to do.

How I Embraced My Authentic Self and Why You Should Too

I used to be the person who had two personas- the public one and the private one. In public, I used to put on a mask, behave the way I was expected to, say the things that were considered “right” , hide some sides of me because I thought nobody would accept me like that. I thought it was better to be like this than be judged, than open up about my feelings, than have those conversations.

In private, I would be my real true authentic self. The person who I really was, just embracing every strength and every flaw, every struggle and every success, every smile and every tear. I was ok being vulnerable like that with my close ones. 100% Gurm. And that still took every ounce of courage, just in private. Imagine if I had to do it in public. No way!

But then… something happened. The two sides of me became exhausting. It was a sign telling me to stop this act, to take off the mask and show my face to the world. Say to everyone, “this is me, all of me. Accept me or not, like me or not, judge me or not, I am done hiding”.  I am done hiding because that mask doesn’t feel like me, it doesn’t feel right in my gut. I am done hiding because I can’t keep living like this anymore. I am done hiding because instead of feeling content, I feel empty.

And once I took off that mask, you know what happened? I found myself again.  I had the courage to become candid, honest. I made the decision to be vulnerable and show the human side of me. I started feeling happier and more fulfilled. I found my calling. I truly started to enjoy life and understand myself, others and the world.

No, I didn’t do it for attention or likes. No, I didn’t do it for others to feel pity for me. I didn’t do it because that is how it is supposed to be done. I did it because I realized what I had been through is probably what someone is going through right now or will go through one day. I did it because I knew telling my story can help someone, can inspire someone. Even if it touches only one soul, it is enough.

Something you wish you had heard when you were going through that situation, that is what people need to hear when they are going through that same situation. And they need to hear that from you! So take off that mask. Go all in. No matter where. No matter what. No matter the time or place or who you are with. Be 100% yourself and go spread your beautiful light. And remember “embrace uniqueness”.