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Creativity is Contagious.. Pass it on!

Creativity is Contagious.. Pass it on!

Julie writes...

When I finished filming my video for Project Pack No. 14, I was pleased with the finished piece of art (sorry about using white charcoal! I thought they were included in the project pack!), but I was left feeling like there was more I could have said about the message I was trying to convey, so I am sharing with you a companion blog to Zentangle Project Pack No. 14, Day 04.

Theordore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy,” and this statement still holds true today, if not more than ever. In a world where we are sharing more than ever on social media, it is hard not to compare yourself to others. I feel like there is more pressure than ever to keep up with the jones’ and this constant comparison can have a serious effect on our mental health and overall self-esteem. This pressure is not limited to the car we drive or the promotions we get at work – it happens with our artwork as well.
I hear it all the time - people will call or email ZentangleHQ and share that they love seeing all of the beautiful Zentangle art that is shared on the Zentangle Mosaic app or other social media platforms, but theirs is not “good enough” yet to post. My heart breaks each time I hear this. Not only because I KNOW that their artwork is “good enough,” but because I also know what it is like to feel that way.
I have written in blogs before that until recent years, I did not consider myself an artist. In fact, I would go out of my way to be good at other things to compensate for the fact that I was not an artist.
Although I had tangled for many years in private, my practice really ramped up when I began working for Rick and Maria. Tangling is not required, but I am sure you can imagine it is hard not to be inspired by the beautiful artwork I was surrounded with. Unfortunately, that inspiration quickly turned into intimidation.
I would tangle in private, but going into the office, I kept my tiles to myself. They did not compare to Rick, Maria, Molly and Martha’s Zentangle art. Everywhere you look, there were tiles and mine were not “good enough” to be in the midst of theirs. I would tell myself I just needed to practice more.
For a while, I thought that this mindset would be motivating, but it was counterproductive. For starters, whether you are tangling or training for a marathon, I don’t think negative self-talk is constructive motivation. Secondly, this mindset was not motivating or inspiring, it was hindering. My artwork was never going to look like Rick or Maria’s, so striving for that was never going to be fruitful.
I am not sure when it was exactly, but there was a point when the switch flipped in my head. All of sudden I gave myself permission for my artwork to NOT look like anyone elses at ZentangleHQ. I gave myself permission to enjoy the process and not be concerned about the end result and that was the most freeing part of my Zentangle journey.
Once I focused on the process, I started to become more satisfied with the result. I found a style and rhythm that was all mine – that no one else at HQ could recreate, just as I could not recreate theirs. I started sharing my Zentangle art and wouldn’t you know it – it fit right in with all the other tiles hanging around. That intimidation the crept in so quickly in the beginning, evolved into inspiration. Now, when I see a tile of Maria’s that is beautiful (they all are!), instead of telling myself “I will never create a tile like that,” I will ask myself “how can this tile INSPIRE my art?” and the creativity begins to flow.. it becomes contagious.
I wanted to share a little more about my story, as I know it will resonate with many of you. I wanted to share, in hopes, that you may find inspiration where you once found intimidation, and I want to encourage YOU to share. Share your artwork with your friends and family. Share it with the Zentangle Community without hesitation Your art is more than good enough.

Creativity is contagious, pass it on!  – A. Einstein



Julie Willand


  • Julie you are such a blessing to me. Thank you for the reminder to the dangers of comparing ourselves to others, In fact a great man name Paul warned us of that long (before Teddy was born). Not only does it steal your joy, it causes discouragement and getting trapped in awful condition of envy. When we feel envy”we wont accomplish our best work. Take a breath! Amen! U r terrific! Thank you.

    Layla on

  • Thank you Julie for such inspiring words. I worked hard for many years in my chosen career and did no creative work. I ran and read when I had free time. I eventually was suffering from stress and happened upon Zentangle in 2017. I have joyfully followed the path that many talented artists before me paved with exquisite examples. In a few short years I have truly accepted that I have become an artist and it spills into my life in many ways. I appreciate the way you remind us that we are unique in our expressions even if we are following carefully the instructions of another. I honor those who share so generously their creative spirits including you.

    Deb Murray on

  • Julie, your posts feel like a hug and a pat on the back for me. Your humility warms my heart. I am a CZT22 and will always be a beginner. ❤️💜💚💙🧡

    Kathy Y. on

  • Oh, Julie. I have been tangling for 13 years and became a CZT 9 years ago. My life changed dramatically 4 years ago and, though I still follow the CZT FB page, the ZT newsletter and blog, and several FB Zentangle pages, I only look, seldom commenting, and never posting. This post is so important, and resonated powerfully with me. What a valuable, vital, encouraging message – thank you for being brave and astute enough to say it. My creative mojo is still sluggish and sad…but slowly coming back to life. Your words were like a healing balm. Thank you, darling.
    Ann Hathaway CZT 10

    Ann Hathaway on

  • Thanks Julie! I hear you loud and clear! For me, the best way to feel my creations are ‘good enough’ to share is when I am teaching a Zentangle class. This year I taught on the zoom platform and it was very gratifying. I could see everyone working at the same time and although they were initialing copying what I was doing, before the end of the lesson, I could see them creating their own style, using the tangles I taught. “If you built it, they will come!” and if you teach it, they will create, whether it’s on zoom or small groups in your home.

    Janice Orlansky on

  • Great post! Comparanoia is a real thing and part of my every day life despite the fact that I know I need to stop that nonsense! Thank you for sharing.

    Angie Gittles on

  • Oh my goodness!! This is so true!! I spend too much time looking at beautiful Zentangle tiles on Instagram with the result that I’m scared my own work will never work out so well! Really I should be spending this time working on my own tangles and remember that all these accomplished people were also beginners at one time!!

    Fiona on

  • Thank you, Julie! I was following this tangle getting into my head when I looked up and most of the screen was covered up! I couldn’t see what was being drawn. I laughed and continued my tangles and then realized I just had to slide the page back down to see it. We do tend to hyper focus to “get it right”. Now I’m back to enjoying the journey. Blog away – you are always timely!

    Mary Ellen Ziegler Czt33 on

  • Thanks for sharing Julie! My brother was an artist and my youngest daughter has his abilities (I hope she returns to art some day) so to call myself an artist has seemed farfetched, to say the least. But recently, I’ve been able to slowly see myself as an artist, and it is a wonderful feeling. I plan to enjoy the journey to discover my own style, whenever that time comes, and appreciate my own work along with other artists.

    Mindy Jameyson on

  • Absolutely love this blog and the sentiments you’ve shared here, Julie. For me the confidence ebbs and flows yet sometimes I look back at the very beginning of my Zentangle journey and see what I was sure of is now, through fresher eyes, quite free and lovely.

    I still have not landed on a style but am not certain I want to. It is funny because there are so many fabulous artists on the mosaic. Some of whom I would recognize their work, anywhere. If I think mine will never be as good as…I have to change that thought to mine will be different and have beauty of its own.

    Occasionally I lose that thread and then new inspiration comes in the form of project packs, artists trying new techniques or share a video. And of course blogs like this, from the heart, a meaningful reminder. Today, I’ve re-caught the bug from you Julie. Thank you very much!

    PamS on

  • Julie, thanks for this reflection. Zentangle has enabled so many of us “non-artists” to be artists. It is so intimidating to see the work of a marvelous piece and think we can never do that. But I find the Zentangle Method so special as there is more to it than just drawing. It is an enabling philosophy. All of you who teach the lessons of the project packs incorporate that and CZTs learn that and teach it. I love your art and sessions in each of the project packs.

    Joyce Rosenberger on

  • I know exactly what you mean! I am in a few Zentangle groups on Facebook, mostly “just looking” so far, and have found myself both impressed and depressed simultaneously, knowing I do not have that sort of creativity in my brain to come up with a certain design. But there are so many forms of creativity, and each of us will produce something that no one else will. And it will take time and a lot of practice to discover one’s own style. In the meantime, it’s great to have so many sources of inspiration, so freely shared by artists all over the world!

    Kendra Page on

  • Thank you, Julie, for sharing your story. I needed to hear it.

    Maureen Hines CZT 32 on

  • Thank you for sharing your story. Isn’t it amazing when we come out of the shadows and share our art?

    Jenn Sklener on

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