Don’t Call Me An Artist

Don’t Call Me An Artist

by John B. Lowe

If you think I’m unique, or maybe even special,

don’t call me an artist, call me a stranger.

If you think I think I’m unique, or maybe even special,

don’t call me an artist, call me an arrogant fool.

If I create something interesting or beautiful,

call me a craftsman.

If I engage and enchant an audience,

call me a actor, or a storyteller.

If I amuse you, and you enjoy what I do,

call me an entertainer.

If I only reflect what I see in front of me,

don’t call me an artist, call me a mirror.

If I set my self apart,

to observe the world from a distance,

don’t call me an artist, call me alone.

If I help you understand the world,

or your place in the world, or yourself,

call me a teacher.

If you think I can change the world,

call me an activist, call me revolutionary.

If I help you feel understood,

and cared for, and not alone,

call me friend.

If you see my flaws, and my frailties,

and my many mistakes,

but still find something in me to love,

call me family.

If I make you laugh, call me funny.

If I make you cry, call me cruel.

If I make you angry, call me out.

Call me intelligent. Call me irreverent.

Call me good. Call me kind.

Don’t call me an artist.


if by artist you mean human,

both simple, and complicated,

like you, and me, and all of us are,

well then, I suppose, you may call me that.

Though, I’d prefer you to call me by name.

John B. Lowe



John B. Lowe is now available to coach your next audition. Starting Monday September 21, 2020 John will be booking 1 hr online (ZOOM) appointments on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. (Weekends and evenings by special appointment). Email:



I love being an actor. Acting is my craft, my passion and my job.

I enjoy earning my living as an actor, but acting is not my life.

I love to engage and entertain an audience, but I don’t like curtain calls.

I care more about kindness, creativity and collaboration, than I do about critical acclaim.

I don’t want fame, but I’d like to be remembered kindly by family, friends and colleagues.

I don’t need any prizes, I just want another part, (and, maybe next time, a bigger paycheque).

One Stone At a Time.

One stone at a time. One flower at time.

A man I’ve never met or seen or heard has deeply inspired me as an actor, a teacher and a person. He wasn’t a performer or a writer or an athlete but his work has had a profound effect on me.

A few years ago, I was acting in a play in Chemainus, B.C. on Vancouver Island. Almost everyday, I walked through a lovely area in a forest called the Hermit Trails. I spent many hours enjoying that place of beauty and tranquility. When I learned the story of the man who designed and built the trails, my daily walk became a time for personal reflection and perspective.

The Hermit Trails were named for the elderly reclusive man who created them. He lived alone in the forest and was nicknamed “the hermit”.

The painting that illustrates this post is a mural in Chemainus B.C. painted by Paul Yagurta.  A print hangs on the wall of my office, and provides daily inspiration.

Paul Ygartua's 'The Hermit' mural, Chemainus

Paul Ygartua’s ‘The Hermit’ mural, Chemainus

The hermit was old and stooped and slow, but he worked diligently for many years, and moved hundreds of rocks and stone slabs to create a series of pathways and steps over a few acres of forest, bordered by gardens of wild flowers. Single-handed, with few resources, the hermit created a small forest paradise that’s been enjoyed by thousands of people.

The hermit’s name was Charlie Abbot. Charlie arrived quietly in Chemainus sometime in the 1970’s and lived alone in a makeshift shack in the forest where he created and maintained his environmental masterpiece until he died in 1989 at 87 years old. The Hermit Trails are Charlie’s legacy. Nature provided the raw materials, but Charlie’s labour translated nature’s beauty into eloquent human terms. Charlie was dedicated and determined and his work was deceptively simple. He used crude natural objects to create a mystical place that celebrates nature. Since Charlie’s death, local residents have maintained the Hermit Trails so Charlie’s creation continues to be enjoyed and appreciated.

I don’t know much about Charlie except what’s written here and I like that bit of mystery because Charlie’s work ethic and achievement are what define him for me. I can only guess what motivated Charlie to create this little piece of paradise but I’m sure it wasn’t fortune or fame. Regardless of his background or motivation, Charlie’s work is impressive, joyful and inspiring and has had a profound impact on how I now view my own work.

My daily walks through the remarkable place that Charlie crafted without regard for recognition and remuneration, motivated me to reflect on the value of my own work as an actor, a filmmaker and teacher. While money and accolades are certainly appreciated, they are not the primary goals of most actors or artists. Sure, applause and a paycheque are always welcome but many great artists work with dedication and passion for many years without receiving any tangible rewards but are still considered successful.

The size of an audience doesn’t always reflect the success of a creative endeavour and we can’t measure the value of creativity in financial terms. The real rewards of creativity are the satisfaction of accomplishment, the tangible results of one’s labour, and the joy of sharing creativity with others.

Actors, artists or anyone can accomplish amazing things if they are primarily driven by the simple, honest desire to create excellent work and then work diligently with patience and perseverance to satisfy that desire.

Charlie’s gone. I never met him, but I feel blessed by the joy and inspiration I received from his labour and his creation.

Thanks, Charlie.

I learned a few other things from Charlie;

  • You are your own best resource.
  • Everything you really need is already close at hand.
  • Focus on the task and work hard with patience and perseverance.
  • Place one stone at a time. Plant one flower at time.
  • Simple, honest work can create something beautiful, complex and profound.

Hopkins as Lear/Lowe


There’s Anthony Hopkins doing his John B. Lowe impression, again. We admit he’s marginally better at doing John B. than John B. Lowe…


John B. Lowe leaves PTE


At the end of June, 2016, I left my position as School and Community Programs Director at Prairie Theatre Exchange.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at PTE School. I’m proud of the work I did at PTE School and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this excellent arts organization. It’s been a wonderful, rewarding decade.

While working at PTE, I was encouraged to maintain my acting and filmmaking career on a part-time basis. A number of theatre, film and TV opportunities have arisen that now require my full-time attention. I feel it’s best to make room for someone new to lead PTE School into the future.

I look forward to my continuing association with PTE, as an instructor and theatre artist for many years to come. I’d like to thank my PTE colleagues for your collaboration and support. Thank you to the many amazing instructing artists who generously share their creative talents with PTE School.

A special thank you to the PTE School students, for allowing me to share your exploration of theatre, and film and witness the development and expression of your talent and creativity.

John B. Lowe
(FORMER) School and Community Programs Director
Prairie Theatre Exchange