An Artist’s Inspired Journey

by guest blogger Jacob Lemanski

From world traveler to creative entrepreneur, Jacob Lemanski has taken an inspired and unusual journey. He shares his story and idea for an innovative form of living art.


Jacob Lemanski with Ant Life, his body of living art

Jacob Lemanski transitioned from a traveling blogger to designing “living wall art.”


There are few things more intimate than the relationship between an art piece and its artist. Leading up to every brush stroke is a lifetime of experiences. The more deeply one can embody those experiences, the more fully it will be expressed in their art.

Through no small effort, I was able to perfectly embody myself in an art piece. I conceived of it just after returning home to Boulder Colorado following a 999 day bicycle tour, pedaling 38,000 miles, crossing six continents and circling the earth twice (see my Travel blog). I was inspired by the journey, truly, but more importantly I had learned a new way of being. Two very strong characteristics had manifested that allowed me to create art from a pure place.


Series of Ant Life Space, known as "Living Wall Art".

Series of Ant Life spaces


The first characteristic was a result of the isolation of my adventure. I traveled alone and mostly through countries where I could not speak the language. At night I would push my bicycle away from the road to hang my hammock among the wild animals and stars. Without people to talk to I had no mirror for my thoughts. The world outside of me expanded immeasurably while internally I was living in an echo chamber.

After years of this I lost my ability to perceive my surroundings, or myself, through anyone else’s eyes but my own. This was the state I was in when I began my project. I was completely out of touch with the consensus of society. I could not conceive of what anyone else might want so I created something just for me. It was all I could do.

The other piece that allowed me to fully engage with my art was the self acceptance I felt. I learned who I was, and after one thousand days meditating on it, I had fully accepted it, was free from self-resistance, and trusting of every instinct. I entered a creative flow that lasted a year and three days. Until I stood before my masterpiece, an installation of the world’s largest most beautiful ant farms.


Plants and insects both serve to create this living art.

Plants and insects together sculpt organic shapes in an Ant Life habitat.


Eight wooden frames, like picture frames, the biggest being four feet tall and eight feet wide, wrap around three walls of the room. Within each frame smartphone-controlled lights are embedded to illuminate the backdrop; a beautiful image from the Hubble Space Telescope. In front of each illuminated space background the frame holds a thin clear habitat half-filled with soil, colored sand and ants. As the ants dig, light shines through the tunnels like sunshine through a crack. What emerges is an organic, ever-changing scene of islands floating through space. The artwork evolves slowly, at the pace of digging ants.


Ants living in this ecosystem create art organically.

Ants living in this ecosystem create art organically.


It was not immediately easy to accept what I had made. The integration of my journey was there in front of me. It is what came out of a thousand day meditation, conceived in complete isolation from outside opinion and with complete acceptance of what it expressed about me. I called it The Shoreline of Sanity and wondered how far over my horizon that shoreline had drifted.

This is the point I decided to start a business. Finding customers became a healing experience for me. On my journey I had isolated myself out in the world. I came back and isolated myself in my workshop. Finally, after nearly five years, I was interacting with people, telling my story and sharing my art.



I told everyone who would listen; even my mailman has been in to see what I’ve made. Ant Spaces was hung in public locations. I expanded my social media presence and worked on my website incessantly. I created content in every medium I could; photos, a documentary, a podcast, video, gifs, I found a magazine to interview me and wrote articles for online publications. I recognized that everything I presented to the world was a reflection of myself and my art. Slowly my style emerged, my palette focused, and my brand appeared. I call it Ant Life.



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