No More Experts! Only Citizen-Artists!

If you asked me, I would tell you I am a writer first and foremost. That writing is my earliest creative love. And I do love it very much, but a more accurate word probably would be “experimenter.” Citizen-artist.

While I have trained as a writer (though in mostly informal ways), as an artist, I am self-taught. Bookbinding? Learned it (somewhat obviously) from a book. And then another book and another. Calligraphy? A lot of YouTube videos and guide sheets and practice. Lino-cuts? Mostly just messing around.

I am an expert at none of these.

And I think there is tremendous power in that. In finding your own way, following your own instincts, choosing your own mentors for yourself.

This is my ninth year leading workshops along with my partner, the other half of Wild Pages. Our first was a bookbinding workshop held just four months after we had made our first “books” which were really just pieces of old newspaper stitched together with too-thin sewing thread. We had two awesome students. Since then, together we have led workshops on poetry, journaling, letter-writing, living authentically, and even the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator out of sheer, nerdy personal interest.

We are experts at none of these.

More than anything, when I lead a workshop, what I want a participant to take away from the experience is this: You don’t have to be an expert. It is okay to explore, to experiment, to be a citizen-artist. You don’t have to be classically trained. You don’t even have to learn from somebody who is. You can simply show up and play together. So many good things happen when we just show up for them.

And who is an expert anyway? What does that mean? I’ve been binding books for almost a decade—not as long as some, for sure, but not an insignificant amount of time—and not a week goes by that I don’t learn something new about the craft or get inspired by another artist’s use of color or shape or balance. To engage in our practice is just that—practice. It can be ongoing, if you let it be.

This Saturday, June 29, I am leading a lino-cut workshop. I am not an expert, but I’ve been playing around with it for a couple of years and will give you some inspiration and guidance, and you get to leave with a heavyweight canvas bag you printed with your own designs.

So that we have enough space to work, I am limiting enrollment to 6 students. Cost is $25 and registration by email (wildpagesmqt@gmail.com) is REQUIRED. All materials provided. Like all Wild Pages workshops, it includes a 15% discount on all same-day purchases.

Join me from 2:45-4:00, and choose to be in charge of your own creative practice, expert or not!

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Amber Edmondson