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Identifying Myself as an ARTIST • by Shawn Stratmann

Shawn StratmannUntil I was 37 years old I wouldn’t dare call myself an artist. I had convinced myself that “REAL Artists”… go to art school, show their work in galleries, paint, draw, etc. My thinking was an example of what so many people have been led to believe when it comes to the term ARTIST. Unfortunately, these messages are incredibly effective at suppressing what is natural and authentic in all of us. I now believe that if we are expressing our unique gifts, we have the right to use the word ARTIST when describing ourselves.

Asking the Right Questions
I started my first blog in 2007 not realizing that it would be the tool that helped me learn this lesson. It was the combination of my own self-expression through my writing, my photography and my art, and also my connection to an online community of artists, which led me to begin contemplating the following questions:

  • Where and when do I feel the happiest?
  • What life experiences do my family and I want to have?
  • Where and how will I make a difference?
  • What are my God-given gifts and talents?
  • Are my choices serving my family and our values?
  • What type of work makes me excited?
  • Am I able to scratch below the surface enough to see the difference between needs and wants?
  • How do I clear the clutter that keeps me from being my best self?
  • How do I balance security and status quo against my dreams?
  • How do “sameness” and “acceptance of what is” play a part in my life?
  • Where am I allocating my time and does it adhere to my values?
  • How do I give my children an education and life experience that will encourage “thinking” as opposed to “test taking”?
  • How important is it to give my children the familiarity of living in the same place for a long time vs. the invaluable experiences of living in other places?
  • How much risk can I handle?
  • How does community fit into my family values?
  • How do I make family relationships as meaningful as possible?
  • What has GOTTA go in my life?
My True Artist Self
Through personal and online journaling, I was able to answer these questions and to tear beneath the surface of those original messages in my head about being an artist. I learned that living a life full of artful and creative endeavors is a path I am supposed to walk. I had been suppressing my true artist self for 37 years.


As I became more comfortable with these ideas about myself, I knew I had to align my actions and my time in order to satisfy my inner artist flutter. I took swift and purposeful action and launched two new creative businesses within five months. I am now selling my artwork, photography services, and textiles online and at juried art fairs, and I have started a fancy fashion accessory company for young girls where we also have a mission to inspire each girl who visits our website or purchases our products to dream big, stay creative, think independently, and follow passions. It has been hard and long work, but worth every effort, risk, and sacrifice. I have never been happier.

To learn more about Shawn Stratmann, you can visit (current website/blog), (new business/blog), and (archived blog).


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