Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Incredible Keri Smith

WARNING: Extreme fangirling ahead.

Keri Smith. Always Awesome. (Image from
If the world had a BFF, and that BFF was always trying to make the world sit up and take care of its creative spirit, well, that BFF would probably be Keri Smith.

This kickass author/illustrator/guerilla artist and generally awesome person lives in Vancouver, B.C., and has been rocking the world with her incredible books since 2005. For a complete bio, check out her site. Actually, for a whole lot of awesome, check out her site -- you'll be glad you did.

But what I want to focus on today is what she wrote to one young artist -- yes, she reads and responds to ALL of her fan mail, including the email I sent her (squeee!!!).

It's called Ecstatic Flailing, and these are the choice quotes from it that made my little heart tie itself up in knots before exploding in joy:

If we were sitting in the same room I would sit next to you, take your hand in mine, and look straight into your eyes and say, “I know that pressure you speak of very well. The “focus on self-promotion, competitiveness, networking and always attempting to be edgier and smarter than others at all costs”. I have felt that pressure too, still do on occasion. But here is what I know now, that I didn’t know before when I started out… Creating work out of that pressure, doing all of the things that you have been taught by others, and listening to that voice in your head that tells you you need to be better is not what will create that success you are craving. The true work, (meaning the work you are here to do), comes from a completely different place than this.
[… T]he energy that you feel when you are creating is very important and will tell you if you are on the right path. Not that there is only one path, there are many, but I am referring to doing work that fulfills you and brings you “success”, and when I say success I really mean “work that is meaningful to you”, work that is aligned with your ideals
[...] I’m not saying that you won’t have many bad days where you feel incompetent and like you are flailing like a crazy person. As Kurt Vonnegut put it so perfectly, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” But at times you will also feel like you are able to leap over tall buildings with great ease if you go directly into that place you spent a lot of time when you were a kid, experimenting and making messes, and playing on the floor.
[...] I hope I have not painted the picture that I have got it all figured out, because that is hardly the case. I am flailing right along with everyone else. But I now do it with as much open energy as I can muster, and I am much better at recognizing what is filling me up and what is sapping me.
You can see why I'm a fan, right? But this is the clincher for me:
[... Y]ou are beautiful, and talented and you have something to say. [...] It doesn’t matter one iota if you are unsure of what it is that you want to say just yet. The more you try to trust the process, the more you will figure it out piece by piece.
BE STILL MY FREAKING HEART. (Did you read the whole thing yet? No?? GO. READ. Now.)

Was I right about the awesomeness? Perhaps --- it certainly is #somethingawesome for me. But I bet there are some other something awesome things out there, that you might want to share. If so, I have some good news for you! There's still time to enter your #somethingawesome to win our something-secret-and-awesome -- and you have until midnight Friday to do it! Read more here, and then get to sending us the stuff that rocks your world!

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