It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Wait a minute…did I just call building sandcastles a job? In Kirk’s case, it is. Perhaps a better description: it’s his creative passion that people happen to pay him to practice. Either way, he’s just come back from a gig in Kuwait with other sand artists.
It wasn’t always this way. Kirk’s life path first led him through dragons and demons – at least those of the mind. Like many of us, Kirk’s work was all engulfing and stressful. What had once felt at least partially creative, had somehow became a source of unending stress. In the midst of this maelstrom, Kirk was unbearably depressed, and his marriage had ended.
Half a decade into his life, Kirk found himself completely stripped of his identify: no marriage, no money, no direction, and profoundly depressed. “What happens when you lose everything is that you take stock of your life. Decide what is important, and what is not. It’s a chance to reinvent yourself.” …
One day, he picked up a book about making sand castles – The Art of Sand Castling, by Ted Siebert. Forming sand into castles had always intrigued him. He went to the beach and built a sandcastle. As he knelt on the sand, he was completely uninhibited, in the flow, entirely involved in the creative process. Not one depressing thought clouded the day. In technicolor luminosity, the clouds parted, the angels sang (figuratively), and a voice in his head informed him, This is going to change your life. “I didn’t see how,” says Kirk, “but I knew that I had found something that would change my life.”
And this is crucial information. It is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that your passion may be for something that you either don’t even know exists yet, or that you have no idea how to make a living by doing it. So it was for Kirk – he’d never heard of anyone, nor could he imagine that he could make a living creating art out of sand. But what he did know was enough to keep him coming back: building sand sculptures felt good, and it kept the demons in his mind away.
Kirk heard about a sand art event, and he applied to be part of it. He sent pictures of his evanescent portfolio, and paid $500 to participate. He was accepted, and from that initial crowd of artists, he learned that he could also, in fact, make a living at it. So today, he has “it” – that which we all desire – the job that doesn’t feel like a j-o-b: “It feels like a scam. I don’t do anything. I am just myself”. Yes, it is possible to make a living just being your beautiful, talented, rock-star self!
He quit his job as a project manager, and started doing sand full time. Sometimes, his old boss would contract him to do some design work for construction projects. In the beginning, he would conform his plans to what could actually be constructed (in the real world). But once he started doing sand, he says, “My solutions were crazy! I had to stop. I embraced things that were improbable and impossible.” Yes. Yes. Yes! I want to embrace the improbable and impossible in my life.
The chemical change in his brain also revolutionized his thinking and reshaped what he saw as normal. “You really see what is genuine and real in people and in things in your life. You want things that are genuine – the real thing. The cubicle is not real. That is a synthesized nightmare that people put themselves through to make money,” says Kirk. “Some people have to do that, but I don’t.” Incredible that playing with sand taught Kirk what is authentic and true and possible. Real knowledge is not how to bill a client, or design a building, but how to get sand to stick together to form wondrous shapes.
Unpredictable occurrences and opportunities happened once he took the leap of faith. The Travel Channel contacted a fellow sand artist and friend of Kirk’s, Rusty Croft, to see if he was interested in participating in a TV show. The channel was not interested in a placid, peace loving artist, but rather someone who would bring a little color (read “excitement”) to the show – and that was Rusty. Rusty insisted that Kirk get involved in this rollicking journey across the beaches of the world: Thailand, Puerto Rico, Fiji, Las Vegas and more.
The Kirk Rademaker you meet today is grounded, aligned, and happy. He has an international community of friends who are also sand artists, and with whom he connects and plays in his many gigs around the world. He seeks out authentic interactions – the kind that he can have with anyone with nothing more than a pile of sand, a bucket and a little water. This life, this honest, happy life, is Kirk’s version of success.
To find out more about Kirk, please see his website at: