I’m learning to accept myself. I’m still in the process of learning to love who I am. And it’s been refreshing and nice to be able to do that and to be okay. I think my fans have brought that out in me.

— Dua Lipa

For thirty years, I’ve been in the trenches with artists—not wielding a brush myself, but wielding a different kind of creative power: the power of helping artists navigate the business side of their passion. My battlefield has been the business side, where I have helped countless artists navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of marketing and building a sustainable career.

Over countless consulting and brainstorming sessions, I’ve witnessed the relentless pursuit of greatness that burns within many artistic souls. But there’s also a secret I’ve learned—and the one I want to share with you today: It’s okay just to be okay.

Problems Pursuing Perfection

In the constant pursuit of excellence within our creative lives, it’s easy to become entangled in the belief that only perfection carries value. This relentless quest can overshadow the intrinsic worth found in the act of creation itself. 

But there’s a liberating truth rooted in Zen philosophy that offers a counterpoint: the profound okayness of simply being okay. This concept might seem at odds with the drive that fuels artists and creators, yet it holds the key to unlocking a more fulfilling, authentic creative journey.

The Essence of Simplicity and Authenticity

Zen teaches us the beauty of simplicity, urging us to strip back the unnecessary and focus on the essence. For artists, this principle is a call to value the process over the product. It’s in the act of creation—each brushstroke, each decision, where the dialogue between the artist, medium, and the surrounding world unfolds—that we find actual value. This simplicity liberates us, freeing our creative spirit from the shackles of expectation and allowing us to engage with our work more profoundly.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy

 

 

Yet, how often do we find ourselves chasing the illusion of perfection, believing it to be the pinnacle of our efforts? This pursuit can be endless, a mirage shifting beyond our reach. The Zen of Okayness invites us to release this illusion and embrace our authentic selves in our work. It teaches us that our creations, replete with their imperfections, are genuine reflections of who we are. This authenticity is what resonates, truly moves, and impacts others.

Journey Over Destination

One of Zen’s most poignant lessons is the importance of the journey over the destination. In art, this philosophy reminds us that creating holds intrinsic value. Our journey is continuous, a path without end, where the beauty of art lies not in achieving perfection but in capturing a moment, an emotion, or a thought. Accepting that it’s okay to be okay means acknowledging our limitations and strengths, recognizing the beauty in our genuine expression, and opening ourselves to growth.

Mindfulness and the Ripple Effect

Mindfulness, a cornerstone of Zen, enriches this journey. It calls for us to be fully present in the creative process, attuned to every sensation, thought, and emotion. This deep engagement brings richness to our work, a sincerity that can only stem from actual presence. 

Moreover, embracing okayness has a broader impact, fostering a supportive, understanding environment within the art community and encouraging a diversity of artistic expression. This, in turn, enriches our cultural landscape, creating a more vibrant, inclusive artistic world.

Effortless Action and Final Reflections

Zen speaks of “wu wei,” or effortless action, suggesting that the most profound outcomes arise from natural ease. For artists, letting go of the pursuit of perfection to embrace okayness aligns with this principle. It enables us to create from a place of authenticity and ease, where intuition guides our actions rather than forced effort.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy

 

 

As we reflect on the Zen of why it’s okay just to be okay, we find a powerful antidote to the pressures of perfectionism. This philosophy offers freedom, creativity, and a path to genuine expression. It teaches us to appreciate the imperfect, the value of the journey, and the power of authenticity.

So, let us carry this understanding into our practice, embracing the joy of creation, not for perfection’s sake but for the beauty of being okay. In this acceptance, we find the true essence of art and life—a message worth remembering and sharing, sculpted not through a formula but through the genuine spirit of creativity.

Don’t give up in despair when you are not OK.

You can find ways to improve your situation. For example, you can change your circumstances. You can learn to cope and develop coping strategies. You can adjust. You can take control of your life. You choose to stop letting antagonism and doubt drive your feelings.

You can choose to be OK and happy, which is my fondest wish for artists and everyone. I even include those who throw rocks and cast aspersions on me and my thinking. And it’s because I’m OK with just being as I am, and I hope you are, too.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I could not agree more with you about being on sacred ground. The good news is it’s attainable for all.

  • Светлана says:

    Прекрасная статья! То, что надо, когда ищешь свою нишу в искусстве…спасибо большое.

    • Thanks for your comment, which translated says, "Excellent article! Just what you need when looking for your niche in art…thank you very much."

  • An excellent read for everyone! Thanks, Barney.

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