All posts in Dear (young) Artist

Dear Young Artist (a guest post by Emily Freeman)

Today marks the first of a new monthly series here at Be Small Studios. Dear Young Artist is a series of letters written by artists, men and women who paint with pigment (or perhaps with words, song, pie-making, play dates…) to encourage young artists and speak honestly about the work of creating.  The series was inspired by this letter written by Makoto Fujimura.  Today we welcome Emily Freeman – a writer whose artistry has inspired and taught me much more than I can paint in words. Enjoy.

Dear Young Artist,

It feels strange and uncomfortable in a way for me to be writing to you because I feel like a young artist myself. Not in terms of age, but in respect to practice and calling and purpose.

I have so much to learn.

I suppose that is my first point. As you grow into your craft and practice it more, a feeling of competency and arrival will probably never accompany it.

It’s like when I first brought twins home from the hospital – I couldn’t believe the doctors and nurses allowed me to take them. Shouldn’t a responsible grown up be in charge? But I looked around and my husband did too and all we saw was each other.

We didn’t feel capable but we didn’t have time to wait for our feelings to catch up with our reality. There was too much work to do.

If you are waiting to feel qualified, certified or professional, stop. Give yourself permission to work from your smallness, from your humility and your humanity.

You will probably never feel like a “real artist.” It’s okay. In the meantime, there are a bunch of messy, failing, brave strugglers doing the work of art – you’re welcome to join us whenever you are ready.


Speaking of being human, remember you are one. You have limits and these limits can be a gift if you are willing to see them that way. Remember how God poured his divinity into humanity in the form of a tiny, helpless baby. Don’t consider yourself above him by thinking that the sky is the limit and if you just had more time/energy/talent, you can get there one day.

The sky is only the limit if you are an airplane. If you are human, your feet will nearly always be planted firmly on the ground. That is where they must be for you to do the kind of work that keeps you touchable, broken, but somehow at the same time, unbreakable.

Creativity doesn’t involve a magic potion. The great artists you admire don’t have a special visiting from a fairy muse. They don’t wake up feeling inspired or breathing out sparkly dust of wisdom and talent. Read more…