Just Let it Go!

Ryan Smoluk in his art studio autism

Ryan Smoluk talks about the importance of not listening to other’s negative projections for the future.

By Ryan Smoluk

“Oh no, no Ryan don’t think about going to university! You will never be able to do that!” a teacher in elementary told me.

I was crushed. Was that true? I only ever thought about being an artist. Later that evening my mom asked me what was bothering me. She could see I was deeply troubled. I told her what the teacher said to me.  I asked her, “Is this true?”

My mom took a long deep breath and looked straight at me and said “Ryan, that teacher does not know you. Only God knows your future and God is not finished with you yet.”

I knew that was true. I can’t tell you how many times I was told YOU CAN’T or YOU’LL NEVER!!

I was once asked in class what would you like to be when you grow up? I replied I wanted to be an artist. I was told “NO, NO an artist is not a real job!! People now can just go buy paintings from Wal-Mart!”

When I was about 7 or 8, a teacher said to me “ I don’t want you bringing your art work into the classroom, keep it at home. I don’t like it”. For weeks I tuned out. I couldn’t even think in that class! Long story short… we reached a compromise. She allowed me to draw for the first 10 minutes of class, and I agreed to listen and finish my work. Drawing for me helped to bring my anxiety level down enabling me to cope in her loud busy classroom.

Fast forward 25 years …

I’m proud to tell you I am an award-winning artist!! YAY and I have my own art studio.

I’m a graduate of university and a graduate of a technical college in computer graphics.

In 2012 one of my paintings (The Path) won a very prestigious art award.  I was recognized internationally by the United Nations. They reproduced my painting on a postage stamp, which is still available for sale worldwide.

Ryan Smoluk "The Path"
Ryan Smoluk “The Path”

I was an honored guest to the United Nations in New York, which was attended by the UN Secretary General, H.E Ban Ki-moon.

I attended many prestigious social events that week including being invited to celebrate World Autism Day by a UN ambassador for dinner at his embassy.

New York

New York was an amazing experience and the highlight of my life so far; I especially loved the fun cab drivers!!

There are always going to be nay sayers in your life. Not everyone is going to like you. Remember when they say something negative to you it only their opinion but it doesn’t make it so.

Just let it go!

Setting Goals

Education has improved greatly since I was a child. Back then creativity and individuality were not encouraged. The emphasis was on the academics. I am pleased to see diversity and inclusion in the classroom today.

For those kids struggling with autism and their mental health, I would tell them not to be so hard on yourself, try to relax more! You will be ok!

I know we are all busy just trying to cope day to day, but it is important to look towards to future. Start by trying to think about setting some short-term goals (realistic ones).  Then look at planning some long-term goals.

My Goals

I look forward to the day when I can do some traveling. It’s important for all artists to be exposed to other countries arts and culture. And to widen our experiences I would like to have my art on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

I would like to do more speaking engagements, to educate and inform people about the arts and the creative mind.

I’d like to make a difference in the world by sharing my story “building a dream as an artist with autism.”


To view more on Ryan go to www.ryansmoluk.ca

Ryan created the art for the cover below.

Ryan Smoluk Cover

3 replies on “Just Let it Go!”
  1. says: Cortland Richmond

    VERY well done! Your story reminds me that in the eighth grade a guidance counselor told me the best job I could ever get was making change in a retail store. Of course,we didn’t know about autism at that time.

  2. says: John Schiltz

    The problem that I am faced with is I am trying to restart my life as an artist after many years of being a carer for a family member. Art has been my ‘self voice’ for all of my life, except when the sheer stress of being a carer for someone with dementia with no real assistance sent me spiralling downhill with chronic exhaustion and depression. I have also been assessed with Aspergers and also with a gradually worsening essential tremor which threatens to shut down my ‘self voice’ for good. I so longed for the days when I could draw and paint, but I feel that, now, those days are increasingly finite. Has anyone out there had to deal with tremor and been able to continue their art. So far, anything I have taken to counteract the condition has proven less than satisfactory and the hands have grown weaker and I am feeling that my future will be one of desperate unending isolation.

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