“My highest service in my life will be through my art.” – Lindsay “Bones” Cordero
Starring in the 2023 inaugural season of Artisan Air on behalf of The United States Air Force is such a huge honor. Thousands of people were surveyed across the United States Air and Space Force, and it is mind boggling to be one of the thirty creatives selected for the show. I know that my highest form of service, in my lifetime, will be through my art. Aligning both my art and military service by sharing my story in my episode is something I will forever be grateful for.
I always want to communicate joy, belonging and possibility with my artwork. I hope my audience enjoyed seeing how my different focus areas within my creative practice – mental health, literacy and conservation – align to this. I also hope I was able to impart a little advice to other creatives in national defense or technical career fields hoping to similarly find their voice and their way.
If there is anything I can leave you with from my episode, it is this:
1. Do not go it alone.
Creativity flourishes in community. Being on a creative journey requires that you step away from competing with others, step into your own ideas, and gain perspective on your unique craft. Doing this while in the military or in a technical field can seem impossible. But it IS POSSIBLE. The key is to find those who have similar interests to you, and join in that shared joy! Find your people!
2. Community Hones Craft.
Once you find your people, you will experience what it feels like for others to hold space for what you already know deep down is true for you. When I wanted to create a book, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The people I met believed in my ideas without question, and I believed in theirs. This shared understanding bolsters your resolve, and keeps you uplifted in the face of inevitable doubts that accompany the creative process. You develop your creative skillset in quiet hours alone, and you hone it in shared pursuit with others on parallel paths. Thrive in the shared joy of pursuing your craft!
3. You CAN be a flourishing, thriving artist.
There is a lie out there, and you know what it is. The mythos of the starving artist.
I adamantly reject this. I refuse to believe the narrative that the only recourse for creatives is to subscribe to a lifetime of deprivation.
Never has there been a better time in history to make your art, share your art, and build a career from your art. We live in a digital age where you can take your work directly to your audience. You can choose to work with publishers, record labels, and other gatekeepers – or not. Social media has changed the game and you, as a creative, are in control like never before.
4. Speak your intent out loud! #manifest
Keeping your ideas locked away will not bring you to life.
What are they? Say them out loud. Write them down. Do it over and over. You deserve a life where your imagination brightens everything within and around you.
Manifesting your ideas is a process where you steadily make them more and more real. It can be woo-woo, or it can be concrete: choose which vibe works for you. It’s like telling a friend you want to write a book. Then writing down that book idea. Creating rhymes to tell the story. Spending mornings sketching characters to populate the story. Sharing the story in community with other creatives. Improving the story and art with their feedback. Pitching the story to a publisher. Do you see the progression? Manifest your ideas.
5. Trust your art spark.
I have never met someone who isn’t creative. Yet, almost everyone I meet (especially in the military) tells me they are not.
It’s the oddest thing.
At what age did you begin believing this? And who or what told you that you were not? Why did you believe that story? Everyone has an art spark – that moment of curiosity where they feel like making or doing or exploring something.
If there is a form of creative expression that brings you to life, let that have space in your life. You don’t have to make a masterpiece to deserve to create. You don’t have to make money from your art for it to deserve to live in the world. Just follow your spark: it is yours alone.
My Air Force hero Bob Ross (did you know he was a basic military training instructor?) taught us that “talent is pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.” I wholeheartedly believe it. Don’t worry about whether you are good at something, don’t worry about whether it will be perfect or get you some major award. Who cares if anyone ever sees it at all? It’s yours, and that is what matters.
Never forget, When it comes to creativity, the joy is always in the process!