“So you’re a Photoshop guru?” … Sigh. This is something I get asked whenever I tell someone I teach Photoshop courses online. Anyone who teaches online in a big way has to be a “guru,” right?
Used to be they’d see my camera rig and ask, “Are you a professional photographer?”
“Not really,” I’d say. “I mean, photography is part of what I do, sure, but …”
Ah, well. It’s just not easy explaining what it is I do.
I’m an artist. I’m a writer. I carry a camera and conduct photo shoots, I create videos, I write blog posts and magazine articles, I conduct webinars, I publish online courses and teach over 14,000 students around the world to create art with Photoshop, I produce a digital art magazine every month …
Best way to describe it is to say I live a creative life — and it has a lot of facets to it.
What’s even harder to explain is what that really means … and what the point behind it all is.
It’s certainly not to become rich or famous. It’s not to pay the bills. It’s not to impress anyone or seem cool or get anyone’s attention. (A long time ago it was always “look at me, look what I can do.” That got boring. I let all that go.)
Mostly I’ve created the life I now live simply for the freedom it brings me: the freedom to keep doing what I love. Rather like Walt Disney once described his motivations: “We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.” And it’s the same with me. I don’t do this stuff to make a buck. Everything I do — it’s just so I can spend my time doing more of it. I love creating great courses and material to inspire my students to live creative lives of their own. It’s that simple really. It’s the contribution to something bigger that means something to me. It’s about legacy. And it’s a complete blast. I’m just lucky as hell to be able to do all of this.
I love photography. I love writing. I love Photoshop. But most of all, I love the delicious way it all blends together, creating what I think of as “the photo artistic life.” In fact, that’s where the name of our magazine comes from: http://ThePhotoArtisticLife.com And it’s around living that kind of life that I built our advanced “AWAKE” group, whose art makes up those magazines each month. Living that kind of life is why I created AWAKE in the first place. Helping those artists get their work out into the world and promoting their work through our portfolio site ArtBoja.com is what I care about now. It’s not about me. It’s about them.
My idea with AWAKE wasn’t about setting myself up as a “guru,” and it wasn’t just about putting together a bunch of cool Photoshop tutorials.
My idea was to create an incredible, exciting, powerfully compelling experience . . .
(And to judge by the dedication — and the wild enthusiasm — of our AWAKE family, I clearly hit on something there. All the pro tutorials are awesome, but it’s everything else about the experience that has made it into such a transformative force in so many lives.)
But it goes beyond what I’m working to bring about with AWAKE.
For me, all of this is about living a creative, artistic life. For its own sake.
Not easy to explain that to non-artists, but there it is.
And I’m of course hardly alone in this. I think any serious artist must feel the same way.
For anyone in love with creating art, anyone dedicated to the mastery of a craft … I think the greatest rewards derive from what the pursuit itself brings about in your life, how that pursuit comes to shape your days.
I love this quotation, from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic:
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.”
An amplified life.
A bigger, happier, expanded life.
A more interesting life.
It’s all that.
And to live that kind of life really is an art form in itself.
Maybe that’s why it’s so hard sometimes to describe what it is we do. Because it is so all-encompassing.
An artist IS the art he or she creates.
The pursuit of the creative life is the most important part of that life. And it shapes everything you do.
Doesn’t matter if you’re earning a living with your art; doesn’t matter if your book has been published or your paintings are in a gallery. What you “do” to pay your bills is immaterial. What matters is what you do to express what is pure and creative and original in your soul.
When someone tries to pin a job title on me (“Photoshop guru,” “professional photographer,” “online instructor”) it makes me cringe.
I’m just me.
As Walt Whitman spoke for us all, especially for all artists: “I am large. I contain multitudes.”
And like any artist, every day I’m just working, as Elizabeth Gilbert described it, to bring forth those jewels hidden within me — in whatever way I can — striving to create something perhaps bigger and more important than myself.
And if I work hard enough at it, maybe (just maybe) I’ll touch the lives of some others along the way.
It’s something we might all aspire to, I think. To touch others with our art. To make a difference.
As an artist, I’d say it’s enough to aspire to do just that much.
Closing Note: If you are currently a student in Photoshop Artistry Fine Art Grunge and interested in learning more about our advanced AWAKE group (and interested in fully “Living the Photo Artistic Life”), enrollment opens twice a year (January 1st and July 4th), and you can learn more about it by clicking here . . .