I loved to draw as a child. I could weave an intricate story about my first drawing, or how I remember the way I first felt when I picked up a pencil, but in truth, I don’t remember any of that. I do remember the happiness I felt when I would draw something and give it to my parents, or to a teacher or friend. It made me so happy to share my passion with the people I cared about the most, and it was always a bonus when it made them happy too.
Then, middle school came. I still loved to draw, and I began to enjoy writing, too. I remember saying to my father, “I want to be an artist when I grow up”, and his response was always the same; you can’t make any money as an artist. That didn’t really matter to me then, although if I’m honest, it chipped away at the happiness I felt just slightly.
Fast forward to high school, and the future-planning that came with it. Throughout my childhood, my family bolstered my confidence in my artwork and it made me feel special, like there was something I did that was good. But suddenly, as soon as plans for my future were discussed, that encouragement disappeared. Even in college, when I took a creative writing class to have some sort of creative outlet, my writing was met with comments like, it’s good, but you’re not that good and being a writer isn’t a career. I dropped out less then a month into my first and second college attempts because at that point, I felt so out of place and off-course with my future that I all I wanted to do was work.
Almost 15 years later, with several small but substantial successes under my belt, I still get push back from people around me, including my dad. They still refuse to see my artwork and my writing as anything more than a hobby, even though my husband, daughters, sister, niece, nephew and several colleagues see it as something special. In fact, it has taken many years for my husband to break through my creative wall and help me to see that what I do, what all artists do, isn’t classified by who’s the “best”, or who is most successful. He encouraged me to create because it’s one of the few things that helps me, and because there are other people out there who depend on it too.
So…what’s the point of this story?
Art matters. It matters so much, that it’s almost impossible to quantify it. For me and so many others like me, art isn’t about the final product, it’s about the process. Something in us compels us to spill paint cups of our emotions, our joy and trauma onto canvas and to sketch our fears and dreams onto paper. Something deep within a writer forces us to conjure rich worlds filled with dragons and kings, and weave intricate story lines to rewrite the way our lives have been lived. Art matters because artists find redemption and relief within the process, a sometimes painful release, but a release nonetheless. Art matters because, if it weren’t for my ability to create, I might not be here; and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
To all of you visual dreamers and storytellers, know that you aren’t alone. The world sometimes offers discouragement because it can’t understand you, but there are many who do. Keep creating, keep “arting” because art matters, and so do you.