At an early age, around 5 years old, I discovered an inborn magnetism toward creativity. In fact, I could already sense it growing at the very center of my newly developing personality. With pencils and paper, Play-Doh and Crayons, I would spend hours and sometimes even days, inventing magical realms where the only limits to the breadth of my creativity were set in place by my own inexperience and underdeveloped imagination. Through grade school and on into adolescence, I nurtured creative aspirations. I chased the dreams, followed the mentors, and studied the world of art with an unbounded enthusiasm that always kept me thirsting for more. As I entered adulthood, respectable influences in the world around me, seemed to demand that I must put down my unrealistic dreams of being an artist, and find useful employment just like the other real men in my life. You must earn a living through hard work. You must provide for your family, just like your hardworking forefathers. And so, right out of high school, I acquired a typical and reliable “day job”. I then remained employed by a steady succession of employers for the next 28 years. Before, and during the raising of 2 children in partnership with my wife of 23 years, I worked hard at a number of skilled labor jobs – growing and selling Christmas trees, pipe installation on nuclear submarines, concrete construction, chemical manufacturing, and (during my 4 years at the Ringling College) landscape maintenance and neon sign fabrication. After college, I worked in a digital animation house for two years, then returned to the world of skilled labor for a 6 year stint at a bronze sculpture-casting foundry. During all those years, I refused to let the lifelong dream of being a Professional Artist wither or fade. With patience and persistence, I held on to the hope that one day I would be ready and able to create meaningful art as a profession. In 2008, I QUIT MY DAY JOB. I know, “Woohoo!” right? In an eleven year trial-by-fire effort, I managed to build a reasonably successful business in the commercial art and services industry (specializing in cast sculpture). At the end of the ninth year in business, I realized a major flaw in my strategy for success; I had built a business with hopes that I could earn a living performing the work that I loved, namely – creating powerful artwork from the heart, and what I had actually accomplished, was to turn the work that I loved into a laborious day job. The icing on the cake was the realization that every client that I worked for, was in reality, my Boss. Creativity had become just another way to make the money I needed to survive. I was not a starving artist. Nor was I a thriving artist. Just a surviving artist.
I’ve heard many tried and true proverbial adages during my upbringing in a blue collar community. One of those old sayings that stuck – “If something isn’t working, fix it!”. In 2018, I decided it was time to “fix” the direction (trajectory) of my artistic career. I began to question the motive and purpose behind every creative act and endeavor I was involved with. I’ve been in a full-out artistic transition ever since then. I started by phasing out the commercial and service aspects of the art business I was running. And then, I began seeking out and encouraging the work that allows me more self-expression and therefore, more creative fulfillment. It has taken me many months, and patient diplomacy, to release myself and the business from clients who were dependent upon the creative services that I had offered them. Many of them did not want to hear that I was changing direction. They tried dutifully, and sometimes valiantly, to persuade me to continue working for them on a “limited basis”, or “…perhaps it was more money that I needed?” For more than a year, I’ve been standing my ground, insisting that this is an important transformation for me, that in fact, it is more like a complete overhaul and reinvention of my creative journey. So now, I find myself standing at a major fork in the road of that journey. I’ve chosen which road I’ll take, because I know where I want to go. My will has grown strong during the years of struggle it’s taken to stay on course. Now, it’s only the nuts and bolts (details) of the reinvention that are yet to be made manifest. I believe that anything is possible when positive conscious intentions travel on the highways of universal potentiality.
In the next post – Mapping out goals and aspirations for the journey ahead. Making travel plans. And finding a way to bring Play-Doh back into my Art. 🙂