The Spirit of Creation

Posted by Zakkarrii Daniels on

It’s weird thinking about how I started painting boxes when I was a kid and now sell my stuff, how my creative process has changed a lot over the years.

I think the pressure to “fit in” was more pronounced when I was a teenager than it is now. Now, I feel like there’s more pressure to define and label yourself to find, to claim a place in the world. I wish there had been more guidance for engaging with social media as your authentic self because as things have shifted over to individuals presenting themselves in the same places as businesses advertising, who we are, how we interact with each other, and what we experience is shaped so much by...well, selling.

I came up with the name Strange and Savage in the back of an Uber, texting one of my friends. I felt a lot of pressure at this point in my life to be like...a sexy “girl” more so than myself. “I’m STRANGE!” I said and it still felt like it was missing something. In between texts, scrolling through Facebook, my feed had been flooded with commentary about Michelle Obama and her arms, or effigies of Barack Obama, comments about their kids. Savage….comes from that.

I make a lot of different things in the spirit of creation. The patches have been the most obvious journey. I used to hand paint them. Little intricate details on scraps of canvas I had accumulated over the years. It’s a part of the fun of being creative, there are a few patches where that’s the only one I ever made, some I don’t even have pictures for. There’s a necklace I made for Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts necklace. I don’t have a picture of that one but I think about it often and the experience I had when it sold.

Art is one of the most beautiful things about being human. I love to see the variety in what people make. There are these cross base pieces that lots of people use in their work. I haven’t seen anyone make the exact same thing with them. Like it makes my heart so happy that all these different people looked at the same base piece and created something different with it. I had the same piece at some point and I didn’t get anything from it. Lol.

That cross probably symbolizes a big turning point in my creative approach. It snapped me out of thinking I’m in “competition” with my peers. I stopped spending energy on looking at other people as “doing better” than me and just appreciate how not alone I was now compared to when I was painting coffin boxes like a decade ago. I get to enjoy the stories people tell about their journey into some kind of proximity to me without being insecure.

It makes me really sad that there’s this idea that for art to be worth something it has to be “good”. It’s an idea entirely dependent on other people, and people change their minds all the time. So if you hold the philosophy that art is good because other people like it, then you lose your magic, yourself to whatever is trending. But what do you like? WHERE ARE YOU? And then if it doesn’t sell, it’s crushing because you worked so hard for other people to like it…When I was the most depressed and the most broke, I focused so much on making things I thought would sell, which just fueled the depression more. At a certain point, I was like fuck it. Fuck it. The more I have made things that I like a lot, the happier I am. I know I’ve done something creatively worthwhile where even if I’m testing new materials and nothing works out, I’m still fucking happy. I’m still aligned with the joy of creating.

If I knew half the things I know now I would have been a lot happier as an artist sooner. Make creation your peace. Position yourself to be receptive to opportunities to learn, not just in what you make, but how you even approach the table. Be patient with yourself, learning is a part of the process. Don’t live in the shadow of who you think you’re supposed to be or what you’re supposed to make. Make what makes your heart sing. Enjoy yourself.

Tomorrow is coming. 
Don't be hungry for life. Be ravenous.
Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

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