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The best time to be an artist

Insider #115 with highlights from this year on the sneakyart podcast

Dear Insider,

This year on the SneakyArt Podcast, I spoke with artists who pursue their arts in different parts of the world in wonderful and unique ways. I learned many things from speaking to them, but this above all else -

This is the best time in human history to be an artist.

This year on the SneakyArt Podcast, I shared more of myself than ever before. But it still felt like not enough. I felt compelled to produce more episodes, to maintain my frequency, and not disappoint my audience. But … I could not.

Earlier I spoke about my resolution to make this a year of zero commentary. Does that have something to do with this? Who can tell? This year on the SneakyArt Podcast, I was full of self-doubt.

The SneakyArt (Insider) Post is written for paying subscribers of this publication. This month, I am conducting an audit of my year as a creative person - all the things that worked, and all the things that did not.

In today’s Insider Post, I look at how I did this year with the SneakyArt Podcast. Tap the video for highlights from the year’s conversations.


I have constant self-doubt around everything that goes into making the podcast. Everything except the actual conversation itself, so you would never be able to tell from just listening to the show. Composing cold emails to prospective guests, I question my right to demand their time. Listening to myself during edits, I wonder what gives me the right to ask questions of people who have achieved so much. And putting together the final cut, I am disgusted by my eagerness to share my own opinions. Why should anyone care what I think?

This has not stopped even after having wonderful real-life interactions with listeners - last year on vacation in Europe, and this summer at Sketcher Fest.

Listeners say the nicest things via BuyMeACoffee

This year, when people told me how much they liked the show, I smiled and thanked them. For a while afterward, I felt confident and reassured. But soon, the doubts rolled in again. I have enormous difficulty accepting any kind of compliment.

Next year, I hope to be kinder to myself.

Dear Insider, how do you deal with self-doubt?

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Giant Steps

I like to do all the work around the show myself. I am a perfectionist, I say, but also I am greedy for all the credit. So it would be unfair to attribute everything to mental barriers. This year I was also stretched thin.

And maybe that is not such a bad thing?

After many years of putting my creative work online, I have learned to protect ideas that are not ready for execution. Sometimes bad ideas need time to turn into good ideas. Sometimes it is I who needs the time. Patience is key to the long game. And next year will be better.

I tell myself this as I self-flagellate.

🎙 Best of the SneakyArt Podcast in 2023

For the video above -

🐦‍⬛ [00:00] Naturalist, artist, and educator John Muir Laws talks about nature-journaling with his children, how he sparks their curiosity for the natural environment, and what he gains from their unique perspective. Continue listening in Episode 57.

🎨 [06:26] Illustrator, designer, artist and author George McCalman reveals the politics of language and why it took him so long to describe himself as an artist. Continue listening in Episode 58.

👓 [11:14] Illustrator and educator Ellen Vesters shares her experience as a colour-blind person and her existential dilemma after using special glasses to ‘see’ the rest of the colour spectrum. Continue listening in Episode 61.

🌎 [21:15] Illustrator and urban sketcher Christina Wald describes how she uses Kickstarter, and the changing reality of independent publishing. Continue listening in Episode 62 and 63. Or, listen to just the Kickstarter bits.

[23:37] Ukraine-born artist

remembers being a teenager in Kharkiv during the fall of the Soviet Union. Continue listening in Episode 64.

💻 [32:17] Nina Khashchina speaks about re-immersing herself in Ukrainian language and culture as a personal rebellion against the Russian invasion. Continue listening in Episode 65.

🚑 [36:25] Artist and author Jeff Schmidt relates the experience of being alone in the hospital after a sudden heart attack with only a sketchbook for company. Continue listening in Episode 66.

🤣 [38:14] Stand-up comedian, cartoonist, actor, and aspiring “Mascot for Outback Steakhouse”

shares the challenge of being funny in the post-truth era. Continue listening in Episode 67.

🚀 [41:47] Jason Chatfield and I discuss the business of being an artist, and the idea that freedom (of reach) also brings a responsibility (to sell). Continue listening in Episode 68.

🎙 Solo Episodes this Year

In Episode 56, I share the experience of last year’s art residency on Vancouver public transit. That’s right, for one beautiful month, it was my job to draw in the trains!

In Episode 59, I explain that the only way to exist on social media is to never look at the numbers. I wrote recently about the panopticon of social media and my efforts to escape this prison.

In Episode 60, I reveal an important lesson from my workshops - that writing and drawing are (essentially) the same thing.

Dear Insider, have you heard any of my solo episodes? Should I do more?

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Not Bad at all

🗓️ The SneakyArt Podcast was active for eight out of 12 months this year. Not bad at all.

⏰ I put out 13 episodes, and ~18 hours of rich conversation of which I am very proud. Not bad at all.

🥰 When I resumed the show, listeners returned too. Not bad at all.

Dear Insider, are you a listener of the show?

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The SneakyArt (Insider) Podcast
Best ideas from a journey of self-education. For Insider ears only.