Variant Title has been added to your shopping cart.    View Cart   or   Checkout Now
Everyone is an Artist

Everyone is an Artist

Julie writes...

There are always people, perhaps you are one of them, who first saw Zentangle art and said, “I can’t do that.”

We always say that if you can write your name, you can create Zentangle art. The beauty of the Zentangle method, is that anyone can do it. I am always very quick to assure these people, with honest conviction, that everyone is an artist.

It occurred to me though that I was not practicing what I preach.

I happened to grow up in the same small Massachusetts town that ZHQ is located in. Right next door to be exact. One of the nice things (for the most part) of growing up in a small town is that everyone knows each other. These days, when I run into old teachers or parents of high school friends and they ask what I do for work, I tell them I work for Zentangle. If they are unsure about what Zentangle is, I will sometimes say I work for Maria Thomas, since in our small town, most people know who Maria is. Once I tell them who I work for, more often than not they respond with, “I didn’t know you were an artist!”

I always seem to laugh at this assumption and assure whoever I am talking to that Zentangle most certainly did not hire me for my artistic abilities. I began to wonder how could I truly believe that everyone IS an artist, while simultaneously laughing at the mere suggestion that I might be an artist?

If you had asked me at age 7 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you that I was going to be an artist (well, probably a princess who was also an artist). Like many kids, I colored, I drew, and I painted all day long. I never wondered whether or not I was good at what I was doing. I was simply creating. Like many kids, somewhere along the way I began to question my legitimacy as an artist and comparing my work in art class to the other students. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that I might not be “good” at art. So, I stopped creating. I found other things that I was better at and pursued those. I think many people can relate to this. As children, we are not plagued with the doubt and insecurity that we develop as we get older.

It is this same doubt and insecurity that makes me react the way I do when people ask if I am an artist. I know that most people asking are thinking of Maria’s calligraphy and botanical art. So, if I admit that I am an artist, they are going to assume I am of the same caliber and once again I am questioning my legitimacy as an artist.

It is true – Rick and Maria did not hire me for my artistic abilities, but that doesn’t make me any less of an artist. They also did not hire me for my baking abilities but that doesn’t mean I don’t bake a mean apple pie.

I decided I needed to be a little nicer to the artist inside of me. If I am going to encourage my students to embrace the artist in them, I needed to do the same. The Zentangle Method speaks to everyone, of all different artistic backgrounds, but I really think it offers a special gift to those of us who were previously “not an artist.” It is a secret passageway back to those childhood days when we colored and painted as if we were the next Picasso and no one was going to tell us otherwise. It is an opportunity to create something beautiful and to activate those parts of ourselves that we stifled so long ago.

The last time someone asked me about what I did for work, I talked about the Zentangle Method and when I could tell they were having trouble visualizing what I was talking about, I opened the Zentangle Mosaic app and showed them some of my work as an example. They looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re an artist!”



Julie Willand


  • I always said I would grow up to be an artist. I knew in my heart as soon as I could express myself, so around two years old.

    My electives in K – 12 was always art. I got ribbons in art shows.

    When I got to college, I was no longer the golden child. Faculty wanted giant painted canvases, not tiny ones. No more animals with delicate fur paint strokes but large blobs of layered colours in grids. Blind Contour drawing was a nightmare (until I figured out what exactly the teachers were attempting to teach). Representational art was frowned upon almost as much as those drawing cartoon characters.

    I drew in the margins of my British Lit books because the thin paper had a nice texture and to free the drawings not allowed in my classes.

    I had to unlearn what I knew and relearn in new ways the same things but now with the words to express what I was attempting to convey.

    I worked at many different jobs (a few even art-centric) as I slowly pursued my BA in Visual Arts.Sometimes I was working three or more PT jobs to buy art supplies, pay tuition/fees, buy food so I would not be poisoned by my mother’s heinous cooking (and she would not allow me to cook!). Cashier, Camp Work crew (cleaning toilets), Nurses Aide dispensing OTC meds and bandages, Vets Benefits Associate, Transcript Evaluator, Degree Audit Personnel, Bookstore Clerk, Library Book Shelver, to name a few jobs in my life. All taught me skills and knowledge I still carry with me and influence my art

    Do I call myself an artist? Yes. I also call myself a CZT because I am certified. I also call myself a data entry person and a very sick autoimmune diseases’ sufferer.

    We all wear many hats and practicing the Zentangle Method is one hat we should all be proud to stand up and say, Yes, I am an artist!

    Debbie Smith on

  • So well told Julie! 💝

    Rimona Gale on

  • …..and you have a great way with words! Thank you for sharing,

    Jeanne on

  • Julie, thank you for this post because you have captured what I and so many others feel about how Zentangle has opened the door to recognizing the artist in ourselves. I, too as a child wanted to be an artist, but was told that “it’s not a realistic goal”. However throughout my life I have pursued many avenues of art, from sewing to oil painting, ceramics to collage but it was Zentangle that really made me see myself as a true artist. That is what I feel is paramount in my teaching, that everyone is any artist inside.

    Linda D Zimmerman CZT on

  • I will take my first class on the 28th of this month. I share the lack of confidence of others so hope the Zentangle will open the closed door of artistic creativity.

    Jack (age 86 but still going strong.)

    Jack Cheezum on

  • I do not consider myself an artist, although several relatives have a legitimate claim to that descriptor. Zentangle has freed me to do creative drawing without having great technical skill. I find it very relaxing and transcendent. Peers in three local courses I’ve taken often comment on my precision, but I do not consider myself very precise. Non-tanglers seeing some of my work exclaim, “You drew that?” I tell them, I just do it for my own amusement, which I think is a good way to approach it. Do it because you like it whenever the mood strikes. And by all means, experiment.

    John Johnson on

  • Thank you for this! I had been waiting “until I had time to practice and get good enough” to sign up for CZT. I was wow’ed by the beautiful pieces I see online. One day I realized that I do the process just fine: I set aside the day, appreciate my materials, fall into the flow of the drawing, let the surprises be what they are (no mistakes!) and appreciate whatever results. If that’s what I have to give and share with other people, that’s enough. I registered for CZT #35 in April.

    EdithOSB on

  • Wonderful post, Julie, and yes you are!

    Margaret Bremner on

  • Julie, Your post is SO valuable.When we ended CZT27, Maria said, there’s only one promise I want you to make. Promise that you will NEVER SAY " I am not an artist." I am not one for promises, deadlines or consistent routines. So to take in this promise so deeply has changed my life. Thank you for great reminder in knowing the Truth of who we are.

    Cleo Thompson on

  • Somehow, being willing to call myself an artist, gives me more confidence to do art and enjoy it.

    Leslie Hancock on

  • Julie, I completely understand your own perception of yourself as an artist. I have been creating things all of my life, but I have spent most of my life reserving the hallowed title of “artist” for everyone else but me. I still use “artist” very sparingly when discussing my work. I have to make a conscious effort to claim the title when it comes up. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Kathy Wright-Starr on

  • “Oh, you’re an artist!” Indeed — we are all artists. thx for sharing your post

    Carol Lee Parry on

  • Julie, thank you for your post! It really speaks to me!☺️💕

    Claudia Schaulin, CZT24 on

  • Julie, not only are you an artist, but you’re a damn fine writer! Very wise and inspiring and it made me smile. We all need reassurance that we are artists. Thank you.

    Angelina Huard on

  • Such a wonderful take on such a relevant topic! Thanks, Julie!!

    Shawna Oertley on

  • Julie, that post really spoke to me! I take ZT classes & am surrounded by others who are so much more creative than I am that I have considered myself “not at artist”. But, I take great joy from the tiles that I create, so I think I need to realize that I AM an artist! Thank you for the insight.

    Lynn Hensley on

  • Such stunning posts and all have artistic skills in common! I have had a few medical bumps in the road and Zentangle saved my life. My dexterity is poor in my dominant hand but my persistence makes up for it. As I return to wellness, I am planning my future with Zentangle and hope to share my skills with people who think “they’re not artists!” Thank you to Rick, Maria, Molly, Martha & all who teach us to stay positive!

    Jane Franco on

  • Perfectly said Julie. I love how those of us that are immersed in the process of making art thru Zentangle can still find moments of ‘Practice what you preach’. Isn’t it fantastic that a Zentangle practice allows you to continue to grow personally while also starting the journey for new folks. ❤️

    Kim Kohler CZT on

  • I love your post Julie. To me I still have trouble seeing myself as an artist. Maybe we should define the word artist. To me this is someone who sells his/her artwork as an income to live from. I am not selling my artwork and I am not really keen on exhibitions. My role is to help students to find their inner artist with the Zentangle method. I feel more like an art teacher! Although when I look at the tiles I have already done I must commit, I am an artist.

    Inge Frasch on

  • Thanks Julie – a really valuable post. Whenever I encounter someone who is doubting their tangle-ability I just encourage them to relax and enjoy it. And I tell myself the same when I have doubtful wobbles. Just reconnect with that childlike pleasure at spending time playing with pens and pencils and paper and colour and time. It’s such a wonderful feeling and once you embrace it most of your output starts to look a lot better too!

    Jem Miller on

  • All my life I knew I couldn’t draw, until the day my best friend showed me her Zentangle kit and said: This is something you can do!!!! Still thankful for her that day. The next day I ordered my own kit and the rest is history :-)

    Annemarie on

  • Oh and btw, your tile is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I love the gray tile with the white highlights and graphite shadows. How you morphed the tangles is gorgeous! And the depth you created is amazing. Maria and Rick may not have hired you as an artist but they sure got one! I know you are a true artist with a lot of artistic talent. 💕

    Brenda Shaver on

  • Julie, I am truly grateful for finding the Zentangle Method which benefits me in many ways including helping me realize I am indeed an artist. I never thought of myself as one even though I created and taught arts and crafts in college Adult Ed programs for over 25 years – needlecrafts, sewing, etc. Sadly as we didn’t have art offered as part of our curriculum in the small rural school I attended, I wasn’t exposed to art techniques and somewhere along life’s journey, came to the conclusion, that because I couldn’t draw, I wasn’t an artist.

    Finding Zentangle has been wonderful for me in many, many ways, but the most gratifying part as a CZT, is being able to help others find their creative ability and realize they are artists too. Seeing that “ah ha” moment and even sometimes tears in their eyes, when a student comes to this realization is pretty priceless indeed.

    Brenda Shaver CZT 8 on

  • I have always thought of myself as an artist because I have always loved creating art. I am not the kind of person who labels people so I don’t get the I am not an artist thing. People who take my classes are all artists and I tell them that because it is true. We all have the power to decide what we are or are not, artists included. I think that if we are kinder to our selves and others then we don’t have to worry about labels, like who is an artist and who is not. It is up to us to change this labeling business and just be artists! Zentangle has changed my life in so many ways! I am and always have been an artist and I welcome anyone who is looking for their inner artist, that is where I can help them discover it. Zentangle has changed me in that way, I don’t label people and I certainly do not think I am a better artist than anyone else, there are some awesome CZTs that do not consider themselves artists but I know they are. Believe in yourself and others will too! That is what Zentangle has taught me!🎨😊🖊🖤

    Dolly Bolen (CZT15) on

  • Lovely said Julie, and it frees so many from their lack of confidence that naturally had in childhood in so many areas of their lives.

    Tracy Boulter on

Leave a comment