Opportunity, Inspiration, Discipline, and Anxiety Ahead

I’m not sure which feeling came first: honored or startled.

A few weeks ago, I sat through a rather intense online experience with many invisible peers, as we watched a jury discuss and grade our grant application (art, vision, community engagement, etc.). After over 2 hours, we found out how the numbers added up and which of us were chosen for this prestigious opportunity: the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant. When I saw my name, I was overjoyed and grateful and scared and eager to get to work.

Hi, I’m Luci Westphal – and I’m a photographer, filmmaker, writer, and social artist with a focus on biophilic art. You can read more about me in my bio on this website.

ICYDK this grant comes with a monetary incentive, one-on-one mentorship, a group exhibit, and the assignment to write over a dozen artist stories (like this one) – and all the unwritten benefits of such a program, e.g., being part of a creative community.

The money, the mentorship, the exposure through an exhibit, and the confidence boost; those are obvious benefits.

But this program provides us with something essential that may not be obvious to everyone: challenge! This challenge comes with specific requirements and a timeline.

street art, monster, colorful, stairs, wall
Creative Anxiety Monster – – photographed by Luci Westphal in Brooklyn, New York

Artists need to be daring, and they need to have discipline.

Doing things that feel uncomfortable and new is how we better ourselves and create exciting and meaningful artwork. The deadlines and discipline are necessary for us to get it done and our artwork and message out into the world.

While being active in the Historic Kenwood Artist Enclave, I kept hearing that it’s NOT in the artist’s nature to be organized and diligent. Even if I were to believe that, an artist must (learn to) be organized to follow through on a vision and obtain the skills and make the connections to publicize the creations and be self-sufficient financially.

These thoughts are supported by quotes from two inspiring people in our local art community:

Bask artist quote from The Artisan magazine, 2023
Approach your craft with a “corporate” level of discipline. Quote by artist Bask in the January 2023 issue of The Artisan magazine.

The other thought that keeps circling in my head is something Terry Marks, CEO of the St. Petersburg Art Alliance said in the recent “Creating Your Arts Business Plan” workshop (Beyond Arts Business Academy): “without a timeline, it’s just an idea”.

Sticking to the timeline and requirements of the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant program should help us practice discipline and grow as productive artists. These are benefits that may look like challenges and cause some anxiety. (And I anticipate some of it lifting once I’ve turned in my first writing assignment. Hah!)

street art collection, mind rules matter, little lucy with gun, blue guy in big hand
Psss Mind Rules Matter – photographed by Luci Westphal in Berlin, Germany

The Specific Grant Challenges

Regarding this grant program, the real big scary challenge is to create new, worthy, meaningful artwork to be ready on time for the prestigious spring exhibit in The Gallery at Creative Pinellas in Largo – and not feel like an imposter the entire time. (Did I write that out loud?)

The benefits of the group exhibit are obvious: creating and sharing art in the stunning, spacious, high-end gallery with an outstanding cohort of other artists during a highly promoted and respected event and get attention from media, other artists, collectors, and the public at large. Next level for me, personally.

The other challenge (most often mentioned by previous grant recipients) is writing these published “Artist Stories” aka blog posts. The idea is for us explore and share steps of our process, thoughts, questions, visions, background, who and what inspires us, etc.

street art, purple face, think, dripping eyes
Think – photographed by Luci Westphal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The “Artist Stories”

Because we’re under deadline to write these stories and the first one is due while I’m currently in Germany with some demands, I’ve felt a little anxious about the how, when, what and ultimately even the why of these assignments.

Writing them will be time-consuming. It may even distract from “artmaking”. A lot of us will feel out of our comfort zone to write and publish at all – but especially about our inner thoughts and feelings in the process of creating, which is often filled with a lot of doubt (another important aspect of creating art, in my view). And what if the things we write are stupid and we sound annoying?

To battle my own anxious feelings, I started looking at the benefits of writing these “Artist Stories” over the next 6 months.

  • There is the aforementioned practice of discipline and sticking to a timeline.
  • The next big benefit of the writing challenge is just like any kind of journaling: exploring and working through ideas and doubts and finding a path.
  • Routinely sharing thoughts publicly, may build confidence (or thicker skin).
  • By sharing with other artist and non-artists about what goes on behind-the-scenes we create connection.
  • There’s an exchange of information and inspiration.
  • We’ll be able to promote our own and others’ creative work – and maybe all kinds of other groups and activities and causes.
  • And we get to help “elevate Pinellas as an art and cultural destination that draws tourists worldwide” [Creative Pinellas]

Personally, I hope to grow through the process of writing and reading the stories of fellow artists. And I hope YOU get something out of reading my thoughts and seeing my images. Please reach out to me to discuss, ask, challenge and share your thoughts.

I noticed strong similarities in my post to the first Artist Story published by fellow grant recipient Fran Failla: Entering The Experience. This is a big part of the grant experience as well: to connect with peers and build a community where we see and understand each other and not feel so singular – and also where we are faced with our differences to provoke, learn, expand, inspire. Always inspire!

write your own way, street art, graffiti
Write your way! – photographed by Luci Westphal in Berlin, Germany


This is the best part of the grant experience. I love to create and must create. But it’s inspiration that makes it fresh and exciting. I am certain, I’ll be writing much more about this in future “Artist Stories”. I look forward to being inspired by the other artists and mentors. But just knowing I received the grant has had my head churning with ideas of what I want to create and share during the grant period and for the spring exhibit. So many ideas – I’m excited to get started in earnest once I return from Germany. And I’ll be telling you all about it in the upcoming “Artist Stories”…

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