“So, what do you do,” an attractive woman asked me at a party in Colorado years ago. “I’m a filmmaker,” I said, taking a swig of Fat Tire. I’d just produced a TV commercial, my first, for the magazine where I worked. When she stepped away a few minutes later, a friend sitting nearby said, “So now you’re a filmmaker, huh?” His snide tone cut me.
In the ten years prior, I’d been a stockbroker, a film student, a production assistant, a chauffeur and an ad salesman. Was I a filmmaker? I certainly dreamed to be. Did I get paid for my commercial? No.
Recently, I heard a wise man say, “We tend to grow into the labels we place on ourselves.”
No one shaped-shifted more or better than David Bowie. He was Ziggy Stardust … because he said so. And a huge swath of the world thought him batshit crazy for it. But he never flinched. Very few of us take the idea of persona as far as Bowie, and even fewer have the courage to withstand being mocked for our choices. Yet, at some point, we must each ask ourselves the question – What am I? And then we must publicly affirm it … whatever it is … without hiding behind the fear that perhaps our self description is inaccurate.
No one else gets to define you. So make that definition count.
All the Information You Need is Right Here. Mixed media, 2015, Stuart Sheldon
“Fake it till you make it,” is another way to put it. A mantra I’ve somehow succeeded by.
The moment I sold my first painting for $250, I was a professional artist, as far as I was concerned. Why? Because I said so. And because that is who I always wanted to be. Could I pay the rent? Hell no. But I’d crossed a threshold and decided to make it more than just a cute moment.
First painting I ever sold. Rocks, acrylic on wood, 14×11″ 2001
The haters and skeptics will always project onto you their own fear and unwillingness to live their truths. They don’t, nor will they ever, have the backbone to put their passion first. I was thirty-eight when I sold that first painting, ten years into my creative odyssey. James Michener wrote his first book at forty.
“For years and years I roamed, I gazed a gazeless stare.” David Bowie, from ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ (1970)
I too gazed a gazeless stare for years … out the window of the penthouse where I sold stocks and bonds. I didn’t have the guts, like Bowie, to hang it out there as an artist at the time. That fear cut a deep wound. But wounds heal. Now, twenty five years later, my fears of being who I truly am have evolved into fears of being excellent at who I truly am … a very material distinction.
I want my children to not only dream big but chase their big dreams. Catching them is secondary. It’s the chase that builds the muscles … in our hearts and minds. Sometimes, we do catch them. My butterfly net is full right now. And I’m giggling with amazement.
I’m delighted to share with you this stunning write-up from The New Tropic Magazine, chronicling my best work to date.
Thank you, David Bowie, for a lifetime of ruthless courage and left-field genius. You showed us all how it’s done for 50 years non-stop!
Now, it’s OUR TIME to shine, people.
This is YOUR year!
And …….. ACTION!