Zoë KM Foster: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist

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It’s both way easier and much harder than you think. I’m going through a phase right now of hitting up against the boys’ club of the art world — you know, the procedures and the processes of doing and selling art in the ‘right’ way as I grow. It’s incredibly tedious and outdated, and my rebellious-neurosparkly mind and soul refuse to conform! If anyone asks me for a CV, even for the most amazing or financially rewarding opportunity, I walk away. It’s a complete waste of energy for both parties in my opinion, and I left the corporate world in large part to avoid such inconsequential bureaucracy! Who cares if I have multiple degrees or where I’ve exhibited? I mean, really?

As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Zoë K. M. Foster, Immersive Energy Artist.

Zoë channels lifesize, activating, energy portals for rebel women, and is the creator of the SacredExpression™ method, combining sacred geometry, Jungian mandala psychology and fully-embodied, energy-expanding self-expression.

Into her work, she brings over 20 years of training and experience as a cognitive psychologist, yoga teacher, energy worker, and spiritually-creative misfit.

Zoë’s debut book, It’s Written in the Stars: Poems, reflections & transmutations on becoming is a multi-sensory, energetic immersion like no other! She is also an author of the collaborative books Wake Up Mother and Shakti Farts: What really happens when wild women gather, and co-hosts the UK Health Radio show Mother Speaks.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Oh wow, it feels like another world to me now! I mean it was — my entire childhood was spent in a tiny village in the Scottish Borders, south of Edinburgh. Of course there was no internet, no mobile phones, and where we lived there was just one bus a week to the nearest market town! I spent my life alternating between making dens, treehouses and secret societies in the woods with my friends, to reading for hours and losing myself in stories. I was also constantly creating something — anything really! I didn’t know it then but it was a basic impulse.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

It really has been a completely organic evolution. I can look back now and connect all the glaringly obvious dots — and I often wish I’d connected them a lot sooner!

When I was 20, I spent the whole summer at Edinburgh College of Art, taking a variety of courses. One of those courses was large-scale landscape painting, and I remember being faced with this giant, A0 paper on the wall in front of me. Up to this point, I’d always created quite detail-oriented, realist art. But faced with this expanse of white, something just clicked into place in my body and instinctively I opened a tube of paint and used my whole body to create big, raw, expressive marks. I can still remember viscerally how incredibly liberating and exciting that felt.

But, it took me 20 years to circle back to that urge, even though it tormented me sometimes. I had to go through many, many layers of healing: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And then suddenly, after a few years of teaching yoga (and recovering from an intense healing crisis which left me in absolute bits), I answered that urge again. One day I went up into our loft and started using gestural, embodied movement with pastels on some big paper. That led to my SacredExpression™️ Method a few years down the line. The more I explored this method and way of moving energy onto the paper in front of me, the more I wanted to explore it, and go bigger and bigger!

And that’s when I started painting. At first, I used canvases I had lying around already — ones I’d “saved for something special”! And I just let myself go on them. I had fun. This was the summer of 2020, when we were all cooped up, and this became my foundational outlet. I went up into our stifling, tiny loft and danced and breathed and moved energy around — the rage, grief and uncertainty right alongside the sensuality, ecstasy and multi-sensory connection to the collective, the universe.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Finding my current studio space is definitely right up there. For years I dreamed of having a big, barn studio — I even followed artists on Instagram with these kind of spaces as inspiration. But I honestly thought it would never happen, not for a long time at least!

Then in 2021 we found ourselves camping in a bell tent because we couldn’t find a house to rent. Our landlady had sold up our house of 8 years in 2020, and we’d been searching ever since. After leaving our winter let, camping was literally the only option available to us.

One of the issues we had in finding a house was managing the need for 3 bedrooms (our tweens had been sharing a tiny room since they were toddlers) plus a space for me to paint. Despite our most creative efforts, the spaces just weren’t available in our price range. It didn’t help that rents had also doubled in the last year!

And then, out of nowhere, the offer of a big barn studio space came up, just down the road from where we were camping. It was super-affordable, and the owners had a vision for the site which felt really aligned. That summer, they literally built my space for me, and by the autumn I was in! I’ll never forget how surreal and utterly magical it felt to paint my biggest canvas yet, and begin holding events in this space. I feel super lucky.

Side note: we finally found a new home this year, and it’s just 2 miles from my studio!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? I’ve just launched my debut book actually! And it’s nothing like the book I always thought I’d write; it’s exponentially better, beautifully melding my art, philosophy, poetry and energy work in a really powerful way.

As a lifelong lover of language and going deep into the social-psychology of how things work, I guess I expected my first published work to be something quite academic — and it almost was! Back in 2018–19, I finally got serious about writing THE book I’d been attempting for years, and I got four edited chapters into, plus a fully-fleshed-out book proposal for a book that can best be described as Joe Dispenza-meets-Anita Moorjani-meets-Gabby Bernstein. It covered my intense personal healing journey from myriad chronic conditions alongside the science and energy “woo” of what it truly means to be fully embodied.

I’m still proud of that book, even though it never made it to the finish line. And it was also a hugely important piece in allowing this book, It’s Written in the Stars: Poems, Reflections & Transmutations on Becoming to come through me. When I first envisioned this book during a meditation, my whole mind railed against it: I had no intention of starting a new book so soon after letting go of the unfinished one! But the vision was so powerful, and I felt it so viscerally, that I knew I had to take action on it.

And ever since saying that inexplicable and illogical, full-body “Yes!” To Stars, it has been the most incredible, fluid and constantly delighting journey. Writing the actual content was the easiest writing I’ve ever undertaken. And then I had the absolute privilege of working really closely with the designer to bring alive the words through the incorporation of my art, personal photos and SacredExpression™️ work.

From start to finish, this vision of a book took 18 months to realise, and I’m so proud of it. It reflects my — and our — multidimensional, soul purpose so clearly and profoundly. It’s like a big, immersive, flickable oracle deck! You can open at any page and just land exactly where you need to be in that moment. It embraces you visually, verbally and energetically.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Without a doubt, the women who I started gathering with really intentionally from early 2020. Until that point, I’d really been floating around trying desperately to fit in somewhere, and feel understood. Something happened at that point in time, and suddenly I found myself in Zoom rooms with all these magical women doing incredible, paradigm-shifting work in the world. Like me, none of them fit into society’s expectations of a “business woman” or creator. They all struggled with very similar issues, be it emotionally or practically, and they were also on their journey of finding new ways of being successful (and what that even meant personally!) whilst honouring those struggles and working with, rather than against them.

Desperate for real connection in all senses of the word, one of the women organised a day retreat between lockdowns. We found ourselves in a meadow outside Glastonbury, sharing food and stories and intensely personal vulnerabilities. We cried, we hugged, we giggled uncontrollably. It was affectionately named the “F — All Retreat” because Sarah Lloyd, who initiated and organised the whole thing, deeply felt the need to have zero schedule, expectations or leadership of any kind. As a result, it was the most beautiful and connecting experience I’ve ever had with other women. It was also deeply healing for each of us, and resulted in us writing a collaborative book about it! You can read our stories in Shakti Farts & Belly Laughs: What really happens when wild women gather.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?

Although I’m a visual artist, it is entirely energy-based. So, I don’t think up images or even specific mark-making techniques or colour combinations in my head before or as I paint. It all flows through me as I tune in and move on the canvas. So naturally, music is probably my biggest inspiration — and my musical tastes have really expanded and shifted as a result! In a typical session I might be moving and responding to Ayla Nereo, Birdy, Florence + the Machine, Beautiful Chorus, Airplanes and Hammock.

In the Summer of 2021, I was driving back from the school run listening to Patti Smith and the music started moving something deeply sensual within me. I got home and went straight up to my studio to paint Dancing Barefoot, and it was the most fun, releasing, and ecstatic artwork I’ve created! Similarly, I painted the über-sensual The Dark Rose from my “Way of the Rose” series entirely to my friend Natalie Farrell’s EP, Born to Stand Out.

On personal commissions, I’m inspired and moved primarily by the stories, energy, challenges and aspirations of the client I’m working with. For example, I created a large energy portal for a dear friend who wanted to feel connected to the wildness of the cold water and all of its incredibly powerful medicine, when she was at home. I used this energy alongside her personal story, specific challenges and some of her own poetry to inspire her painting Wild Feral Power.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I feel so lucky to share everything I’ve learned, not just from my formal qualifications and training, but from my own deeply transformational experiences. When I started to share my SacredExpression™️ Method publicly, I was so humbled by its power. In those first sessions I had people coming to me with crippling conditions of all kinds which meant they couldn’t move, either physically, emotionally or both — fibromyalgia, post-breast-cancer scar tissue, depression, anxiety, you name it. They’d come in, feeling alone, vulnerable and contracted, and within an hour they’d be creating these great, expressive gestures and pouring their emotional energy out onto the paper with their whole body, mind and spirit. It was like seeing magic happen right in front of me.

And that hasn’t changed — those experiences, that feeling. I now offer Messy Art sessions too in my own studio, which is quite different but no less powerful. It’s such a privilege to see people radically shift their embodied self concept and what they allow themselves to feel, to process, to express, in just a couple of hours.

I’m also here to change the world through my art, to help rebel women create a highly intentional, energetically-infused spaciousness in their lives. Every piece I’ve sold has gone to a woman who has chosen or commissioned that artwork as a magnet for everything she sees in her most expansive and expressive, soul-self. In a world which still oppresses all aspects of the feminine (however you identify gender-wise), that is nothing short of revolutionary, and I’m so honoured I can give back to the world in this way.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1 . It’s both way easier and much harder than you think. I’m going through a phase right now of hitting up against the boys’ club of the art world — you know, the procedures and the processes of doing and selling art in the ‘right’ way as I grow. It’s incredibly tedious and outdated, and my rebellious-neurosparkly mind and soul refuse to conform! If anyone asks me for a CV, even for the most amazing or financially rewarding opportunity, I walk away. It’s a complete waste of energy for both parties in my opinion, and I left the corporate world in large part to avoid such inconsequential bureaucracy! Who cares if I have multiple degrees or where I’ve exhibited? I mean, really?

In contrast, when I am in soul-fuelled flow (and in fact when I started out, with zero expectations), I sell my art effortlessly to my absolutely soul-aligned clients. It’s a space of being completely dedicated to and in love with what you’re creating, whilst holding no expectations or attachment to potential sales. That’s a tricky balance to navigate obviously, and it comes and goes — but again, that’s 100% natural.

The challenge I’m facing right now is I want to work on bigger projects and collaborations, and to do that in a fluid, connected way rather than writing application forms and CVs!

2 . The works you love most and personally think are your ‘best’ rarely sell first! I’ve been surprised at every single painting I’ve sold — not because the client wanted to buy my work, but they wanted that one, and not this one! It’s a beautiful reminder that every piece connects energetically to the buyer in some way.

This is perfectly illustrated by two different paintings I created, each with an individual’s most expansive energy in mind (or rather, embodied). Both pieces were snapped up by those individuals, without me ever directly selling to them.

3 . It’s really, really hard to make friends with other artists. This may just be me of course! But I find it fascinating that I have an incredibly supportive, loving circle of (mostly female) self-employed biz owners and freelancers around me, yet barely one or two professional artists amongst them. I have reached out to a few artists who I really admire / love their ethos to tell them so, but it hasn’t blossomed into anything else — yet. I’m calling in a rebellious, embodied artist best-buddy with which to share wins, fails and everything else in between!

4 . Your time will — and should — look different to anyone else’s! I can’t stress this one enough. We’re educated in an entirely toxic one-size-fits-all method, regardless of who you are or what you’re brilliant at. This has been perpetuated in the last decade through male-oriented personal development and business-success formulae (it’s always a “formula”!), and it’s so incredibly harmful.

When I first made the leap to self-employment in a fledgling craft and design business (mixed-metal jewellery, handfelted luxury accessories and website design & branding!), I thought I had to approach my day like I had as an employee. As a result, I spent approximately 90% of my time on admin and practicalities, and 10% last-minute panic creating items for events and commissions. It took a long, long time for me to unpick and recalibrate that conditioning — and a few evolutions of my business!

Now I am really tuned into how I work best, and what I need from my ‘schedule’. I do have a calendar and a to-do list (or several), but on a day-to-day basis, I follow what feels right (and therefore easy). If I have a deadline of any kind, I make sure I have loads of space around it energetically, and create powerful boundaries around each step. It doesn’t serve my clients or myself to turn up and create in last-minute-panic! That goes against the ethos of my work entirely.

Fundamentally, we all have rhythms which mean we will sometimes be in ebb, flow or (apparent) stagnation. This happens as entirely normal parts of our days, weeks, months and years. You can spend 6 months feeling completely unproductive and lost, and suddenly you’ll power out of this into 6 months of achieving, success and upward-shifting. Nobody really talks about this!

5 . Create genuine connection every week, however small. When I first started moving more into the public realm in my business, which really began with teaching yoga over 10 years ago, I was terrified of being seen or known. I went out of my way to hide myself, which of course did nothing to help my biz! Back then, there was still a whole narrative around “networking events” and deliberately telling everyone about your business, or your offers. This still makes me shudder honestly! It rubs up against a deep integrity within me, but it took me about 10 years to realise this — that I wasn’t just a wounded introvert.

If someone had given me the advice back then just to look for the integral connection in others — not as a sleazy marketing ploy, but to help reconnect myself to the great golden web of shared humanity and all that means… Well that would have been life-changing. It is life-changing. That’s not to say I no longer struggle with it, but it has shifted the internal narrative in exactly the same way that learning to create from a soul-channeled place does: it nourishes rather than depletes. And it works on a multidimensional level, often giving surprising and out-of-the blue ‘rewards’.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My whole story — and the reason I’m so magnetised into what I do — is around being fully embodied. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of concept that can be so easily misunderstood or only partially digested — and that’s ok, if we allow ourselves to remain curious.

When I started my own fully embodied journey in earnest, it started with an intense, inside-out healing crisis. I literally shed my skin billions of times. My organs shut down and then slowly started to repair and renew themselves. I very nearly died twice, and thought about it many times more.

But becoming fully embodied was never just about inhabiting this physical meat suit, though that’s foundational! It crucially integrates all parts of us — seen and unseen, loved and unloved, known and unknown. It is mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and energetic. It is multi-layered, non-linear and multidimensional.

And while this sounds like a lot, it actually isn’t. Because our wholeness only ever asks of us an honest, sacred and loving presence. It doesn’t care about (re)building ourselves layer by layer from our foundations. It has no interest in metrics or logical, possible outcomes. There is no mountain to laboriously scale.

Think of our politicians. Our current world leaders. Our systems, structures and processes which filter down into every part of our daily lives. Do they represent full embodiment? Do they feel integral? Do they acknowledge, accept, honour and nurture all parts of us?

This is why I am committed to inspiring monumental change, through my words, art and energy work. I want you to fully embrace your wholeness — especially the bits that feel broken or unworthy. I want you to really inhabit and enjoy the playfulness, sensuality, emotionality and electrical charge of this cosmically human existence. I want you to understand and honour the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs and successes and failures as completely natural. I want you to remember what unconditional love and genuine connection really feel like, and to remind yourself how to let those flow and radiate.

Becoming a fully embodied species would radically change our humanity for the better in every way, and I’m so happy I get to play my small part in this exciting time!

We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.

I am really blessed to be surrounded by incredibly inspiring creatives of all kinds, and honestly I count myself lucky any time I get the chance to have a coffee date, nature walk or in-person hug with any of them!

Naturally, there are many, many other creatives I admire and follow who I’d one day love to meet properly, but if I had to choose just one right now it would definitely be Lee Harris, the energy intuitive. His offerings and shares always bring me right back to the interconnected truth of who I am, and what this plane of existence really is. And I am particularly drawn to him because he teaches and shares with complete, guru-less integrity. I can absolutely imagine sitting by the firepit and chatting under the stars with him on creativity, soul-channelling, and our great, cosmic humanity.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can find me primarily on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube @zoekmfoster, and occasionally on Twitter and LinkedIn on the same handle. I also write frequently on my Substack for my subscribers at zoekmfoster.substack.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you so much for asking me. These have been such insightful questions for me to consider!

Zoë KM Foster: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.