The inclusive beauty of Adam J. Kurtz
Figure out what you want to say, and then f_cking say it.”
It sounds pretty simple, but that has been the guiding principle for every single thing New York-based author and artist Adam J. Kurtz has set his mind on doing. And you can definitely see it translate into his works. Most of the time, he challenges each person who picks up his books to do the same.
The beauty of Adam’s works is he makes you feel like you’re part of his creative process and journey. He gives you his life notes, advice that he himself promises to follow, and positive reminders to help you keep going for your goals and, most importantly, choosing to live your life the way you want to.
“I think it’s just deeply relatable to feel completely alone in the world. To feel unsure of what you’re doing and uncertain of what your skills are. To be worried that everybody secretly hates you. Like what if people are talking about me behind my back? And, surprise b_tch, they are,” he says.
“Everyone talks about everyone. That’s just extremely common and that’s okay—it really is of no consequence. Like being uncertain doesn’t change the fact that you still have to wake up every day so just wake up every day and do your best,” Adam adds.
It is exactly in this kind of honesty and confrontational audacity that people find themselves relating and finding comfort in Adam’s works. He shares that some of his art can be literal, but mostly are a parody of or reflection of culture and the need for validation.
“There are things that make us go ‘Oh, I’m so unique, no one’s like me’ but there are also those that make us say ‘I have so many problems,’ ‘My brain is so weird,’ and then a hundred thousand people in Brazil are like ‘No b_tch, me too,’” he says.
“It’s so wild to see the book sales in other countries and say oh my god this many people can relate, making you realize—in such a convoluted way—that you’re not alone at all. I think that’s powerful,” Adam shares.
His first book “1 Page At A Time” has been translated into a dozen languages. On its interactive pages you are challenged to create something every day, document things, and forces you to take time to reflect. It is a journal, a notebook, a planner—anything you want it to be.
Adam’s follow-up title, “Pick Me Up, A Pep Talk For Now & Later,” is quite similar, putting the pen-on-paper action forward once more, but features more existential humor.
“I’m Jewish and this is just the thing about Jewish people. Sometimes it’s very annoying for the people around me, but sometimes that humor and sarcasm helps me get through some stuff. I’ve gone through really difficult periods in my life, like a death of a loved one, and you can fall into a really dark place and sometimes laughter helps make it feel easier, at least for me,” Adam says.
But his third book is quite different. “Things Are What You Make Of Them” contains a lesson in each of its hand-lettered pages. The pocket-sized book is like a hand-me-down notebook from the artist himself, sharing what he’s learned in pursuing a career in art all these years.
Ad agency guy
All the while he was making books and stuff for his online shop, Adam had a job at an ad agency as a graphic designer. The only reason why he became a full-time author and artist was because he got fired—and thank God he did.
Adam also has a fascination on bits of paper and different sorts of scraps, and he chooses this as his medium. Even that choice shows the creative compulsion that he wishes to impart to get other artists to start creating—it simply doesn’t matter which material you’re using.
“I’ve always been that type of kid who’s like drawing in the margins of the book, like song lyrics, stick figures and a lot of Avril Lavigne teen angst,” he tells Super.
“I just think there’s a lot of magic and value in little bits of paper, and some people, like paper geeks, just totally get it. But other people see it as trash. I also think that when you don’t have a lot, everything becomes special. Growing up we did have things, but probably not as much as the other people that I knew. Money was more tight and so you cherish the things that you do have,” Adam shares.
“Now, I’m very lucky that because of my art and books—I’m not rich—that for the first time in my life when I really want something I could just go buy it. But more often than not the things that I want are really inexpensive. I’m really not the type whose drawn to materialistic things—for me I like souvenirs, pins and keychains. I buy fridge magnets. I’m like a grandma and I just want those kinds of cute sh_t,” he says.
In the beginning, Adam would often label himself as an artist in quotation marks, but now he shares that he feels “more confident now using that word more than ever before. It is a loaded word, and I think a lot of us are thinking that artist means like a painter or sculptor in this sort of classical sense.”
“But at the root of what an artist is, is exactly what I do and what a lot of other people do, too. To create stuff and feel something, and evoke something, that may be a response or reflection, that tries to replicate that feeling. I think that’s what art is and that’s what I’m trying to do. So I will accept that label and I would do my best to do it justice,” Adam says.
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