Creativity is always a leap of faith. You have to get loose.
You Don't Have To Name It
July 2018
"Creativity is always a leap of faith. You're faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage."
- Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way 

Is it art? Is it play? Does it mean something? There are so many ways to express an idea, and often it feels daunting to put the name "art" to the manifestation of those ideas. We’re preoccupied with identifying labels that seek affirmation from others — words and names and titles we can feel in our mouths — because we want to be understood and acknowledged. I meet a lot of young writers who are very nervous to call themselves “writers.” They’re not yet published, or they don’t have an MFA, or they write this kind of writing, not that kind of writing, they tell me, and so they’re not a real writer.
I can relate. When I try to describe what we do at With/out Pretend, I still choke on my practiced words. I say that we are a book publisher, because we have published a few books. But we also host storytelling events, and these events are becoming equally important to our mission. And, in less than three weeks, (you heard it here, first!) we’re launching a new magazine as well because I wanted the freedom to make more work, more often, with more emerging writers and artists. Our elevator pitch is getting muddled. Last month we applied for an OAC grant and I was asked to apply as either a book publisher or a magazine publisher. You have to pick one, Erin, I thought. All the small business listicles tell you to pick one thing and do it really well. In short: I'm doing it wrong.

But, we’re having fun. I think we’re building something good, and maybe even important. We’re dreaming up new projects, turning concepts into substance, and learning how to better collaborate with one another, to build community and work that will (hopefully) have an impact.

With this in mind, I’m excited to share a new collaborative series we’re calling “The Inspired.” In each installment of this series, we will ask an artist who inspires us to respond to something in our body of work that moves them to create, elaborate, design, engage.

For me, the most special thing about this series is that there’s no prescribed plan, or reason, or desired outcome weighing us down. There’s a true sense of freedom in this kind of creating that feels very fulfilling to my Sagittarius heart. I think we all need to leave room in our lives for that kind of freedom. To worry less about the point or use of something. To see where our ideas might take us, if we made space for art without a name.


We've long admired Jessica D'Angelo's approach to interactive, installation-based work and invited her to be our first collaborator. In her own words: "I wanted to build a piece that would interact with the environment, and that I could also interact with. The fabric became an extension of the wind, the light, and the inner-workings of myself." Together, with our favourite photographer Angela Lewis, we chose to shoot at the beach: a vast, unencumbered landscape that seemed ideal for art-making. See the full collaboration here.

See Jessica D'Angelo x With/out Pretend →

Erin Klassen is a writer, editor and the founder of With/out Pretend. She loves to think about the future and convince talented artists to collaborate with her.

follow her on instagram 

When are you most inspired? Do you act on that feeling?
Art Without Bounds
These are a few of the artists who inspire me to expand my thinking about what art looks like, and I'm grateful that there are some nice parts of the internet, too.
Sab Meynert

I've followed and admired this tattoo artist/ writer for years. Her art is grounded in her "own emotional sense of power" and that's great advice for every creative person!

Photo via Sab
Frances Cannon

Frances is a Queer artist living in Naarm, Melbourne. I love her provocative (yet, comforting!) illustrations. They're often dark, but they make me laugh and feel less alone.

Photo via Frances
Marlee Grace

Author and community space builder, I've said before that Marlee's Instagram feed is one of my favourite things on the internet. It's a dream of ours to work with her one day!

Photo via Marlee
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