When Grace Bonney invited me to start a regular column for Design*Sponge in 2015, I had no idea that it would go on to shift my career and perspective in such a profound way. We began just as I was starting my own business, and it addressed the new challenges I faced along the way, from comparing myself to other creatives, to dealing with failure, and helped me recontextualize what I actually “do” in the process. Two years later, selections from this series were published as the book Things Are What You Make of Them.
The summer of 2017 was an extremely tense time for me. I felt a kind of anxiety that I hadn’t felt before, and despite knowing plenty of techniques for managing my mental health, it still took my boyfriend saying “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?” to snap me into reality. I cried on our couch from the near-constant stress, fear, and anxiety. This was the first step towards moving forward.
I wrote this then, an exercise (like most of my work) in telling myself what I know I need to hear. The draft was abandoned, the book it’s not in was released, and the period of intense anxiety subsided. I married my boyfriend in a bookstore. I went on vacation. I shaved my head and my hair grew back. I made new art. It’s so easy to remember the answers when everything is okay, and so hard to see through the dark parts when life gets tough. I know I’ll need this reminder in the future and I hope it helps someone else, too. –Adam J. Kurtz
Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives
Adam J. Kurtz is a Brooklyn-based artist and author of several books including the international-bestselling 1 Page at a Time journal. His dark (but optimistic) humor comes to life in an offbeat line of gifts and small trinkets. Follow @ADAMJK for more.