I haven’t made any attempt at creating artwork in approximately 17 years.
As a child I was a rather talented pencil sketcher. Mostly I’d try to recreate my favorite cartoons in the Sunday comic strips. When I was in 4th or 5th grade I created a “timeline” as a history project. Along important dates on the timeline, I drew important figures, objects or places. I was then held after class and accused by my teacher of not doing the project on my own and asked who I employed to do it for me. I remember it being scary and uncomfortable but I told her the truth … that was my work. But mostly I remember asking myself why she wouldn’t believe that I had done the assignment all by myself. By the end, although reluctant, she decided to believe me and her last statements to me were, “These are good drawings, you’re very talented.” Not much consolation to a young boy who felt scolded for doing good work.
In high school I never sketched or painted a thing. Not one thing.
In college I was taking business classes … and hating every minute of it. Boring. It wasn’t until I was in these mind-numbing courses that I began to doodle in the margins of my notebooks, and of course, getting mediocre to poor grades. Friends sitting next to me in class would say, “Why don’t you try taking some art classes?” I’d waited a whole semester before finally taking their advice and switching to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. I started getting A’s again.
During and after college I’d become a graphic designer. No formal training … I just seemed to have a knack for it. I got my first break when a friend’s father, who owned a small advertising firm and had seen my sketch work, hired me as an apprentice in the graphic design shop. There I met some wonderful and interesting (read quirky) designers who were willing to teach me all that they knew about advertising design. Within a year into my apprenticeship, I was asked to submit designs for a restaurant branding assignment for which the firm was pitching. Although my designs we clunky and novice, they did show signs of potential, and within a few years I was involved in all the company’s design projects. I loved working there.
Now at age 47, I’m still a graphic designer and still liking the field, however, I find I’m unfulfilled as a fine artist. Although graphic design is a very creative field, it’s still work-for-hire and therefore one still must work within customer requirements and limitations. At this age, I feel my design work is losing steam, especially up against the wonderful, new, young talent that crops up every year.
But I don’t want today’s post to be about my tired design skills. This entry is about my attempt to reinvent myself as a fine artist, even though it’s merely as hobbyist. I don’t know where the effort will lead and I don’t really care … as long as it fulfills that visual voice I held quiet for such a long time.
In the very near future I’ll be posting my preliminary sketches with notes and thoughts about the how’s and why’s of the images I plan on creating. Seventeen years is a long time … I hope my artistic chops are ready for the challenge.