Like most artists I began my Art Journey at a young age. It hooked me from the beginning. I started with the love of playing with clay. I spent hours sitting at the kitchen table shaping tanks, helicopters, and airplanes. Like most artists I loved drawing too. I remember spending hours in my bedroom drawing knights in armor swinging swords, killing dragons and other vile creatures. I loved making things. With my dad's hammer, I would pound nails on an anvil to make small swords for my G.I. Joe action figures. I would build small homes and cabins in my back yard to create towns. I built small wooden go-carts that never quite went, I wasn't very good at the engineering part but I loved the building part. I built forts and tree houses. I painted and sculpted. I even tried writing but I was terrible at it so I put it aside, but I always had stories and ideas in my head. I loved creating and that love has stayed with me my whole life.
I got to High School and my favorite classes were drawing, painting, ceramics, photography, metal shop, and wood shop. I enjoyed the sciences too, but math and English? I hated those. Breaking apart sentences to find the nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns etc. was a punishment from hell. Doing functions and factors in math was worse than being sent to detention. I wanted to create! As an adult I often use math and English in my passion to create but school made it miserable for me. School was not for me.
I entered the workplace. I still had that creative spirit and some of my earliest work experiences helped feed my creative desire. I was a carpenter and a concrete worker. I helped build houses, and buildings. It fed my creative need for a while but I began to see that it wasn't the right place for me. It had no stability. It was hard on my back and joints. It didn't provide insurance and so on. So, I bounced around, lost. I tried being a salesman. I sold cars, and time-shares, I went door to door, I sold homes, I even tried selling insurance for a time, but I was no salesman. I tried working in production. I tried learning computer networking. I've been a janitor, a manufacturing tech, a security guard, and HVAC tech, I did satellite communications in the military, I operated heavy equipment, the list goes on and on. I could never find my place.
In the back of my mind I always dreamed of doing art, so when I was almost thirty I went back to school. I wasn't sure what I wanted, all I knew was that I wanted to do art. In high school I took a placement test that said I would be a good teacher and so I considered being an art teacher. I considered being a fine artist. I considered being a freelance illustrator. All I knew was that I had a need to create. I took art class after art class, and a few generals in between. In the end going back to school didn't work for me. I had good grades and I was beginning to learn to paint but I couldn't focus. It didn't help me find my place. I ended with four years of classes, no degree, and a pile of debt.
I've made a lot of bad choices over the years. I've never been able to find my place. I still work a nine to five job in a position that I'm mediocre at. I was lost in school and I've been lost in life. When I look around me I see a lot of opportunities that are great for a lot of people. I wish I could take advantage of them too. I would love to apply myself in computer science, or engineering, or some other of the tech professions. I would love to be an honest and professional salesman, or to crunch numbers and data in some other profession, but every time I try; something gets in the way. I have an emotional block. My mind goes crazy and I break inside. The fear of being trapped in any one of those professions for more than a year sends my mind screaming in terror. I can't do it. I've tried and I've failed. I've felt like a failure for a long time. I don't fit in. I'm a round peg being jammed into a square hole.
I wonder how many other creatives have struggled like me. How many of us are lost in this age of industry and technology? I consider myself an artist but I also consider myself a craftsman, but isn't the craftsman basically dead, like travel agents, Blockbuster, and Radio Shack? I know a handful of craftsman have been able to find a way to make a living. A few artists have been able to make a living too, but on the whole the ability to make a living as a maker of things has gone away. Mass production has stolen from us the maker. Less than two centuries ago there were shoemakers, sign makers, furniture makers, smiths, jewelers, and many, many more who were creators of things. That number has greatly declined. The world cannot find a place for the millions that would joyfully follow those professions. Instead we make and fix the mass-produced.
When I browse YouTube, I see the desire of thousands to make things. Most do it part time. How many of us are displaced in this day and age? How many of us struggle to find satisfaction in the workplace? Are we not a generation of displaced workers always searching for that which has been lost? Sure, we all have a lot more stuff thanks to the mass-produced, but what satisfaction does that stuff bring? We are out of harmony with the world around us. The satisfaction of creation escapes too many us. In our hearts a great many of us are creators, but now machines do the making and we do the operating and repairing. It is empty, and fulfillment eludes us.
Who wants to spend money on my paintings when they can just go down to the local market and by a print for a fraction of the price? The problem is, those prints have no soul, no heart. They do not contain the energy of an original created by a living breathing person. The copies and the mass-produced are empty. There is no vibrancy, no life in them. Where has the vitality gone?
Tempest by Tommy Ingberg
Instead of locals performing for small crowds we have popular groups who perform for giant crowds. The few take the place of the many. Why support a local group when the popular album can be heard on demand? Why attend a live performance at the local theater when a ticket to a movie is only eight dollars? Instead of the wealth being distributed to a broad audience it is hoarded in the hands of the few. Life satisfaction is a rarity. Like me, there are many who only wish to create. Whether they write, act, play music, sing, paint, sculpt, or do any other type of creating the desire is there. Deep down within many of us is the desire to create.
My brother in-law wanted to be a farmer but the modern world doesn't support the small family farm. In his heart is the desire to create. His creative passion is that of bringing life to plants. Unable to do that he now raises cattle part-time on land unfit to farm. He has found a way to express himself in his spare time. What he desires to do for a living is now a side passion. How many of us have relegated our passions to a hobby? But how many of us aren't even able to pursue our passions part-time because of life's demands?
We are displaced.
from the Underwater Museum in Lanzarote, by Jason deCaires Taylor
It's time for a paradigm shift. It's time for the disconnected to get connected. There's a deep satisfaction that comes from the act of creating. The hands-on process brings us closer to the natural state of being. It ties us together. There is a fundamental need to create. Mass-production has its place but it has overgrown us. It has outsourced people and taken from them what is innate, the act of creating. The result is a lost generation looking for something they cannot find, fulfillment.
Instead of buying ten soulless mass-produced things buy one hand-made thing. Instead of filling your home with a lot of generic stuff, simplify it with a few originals. Instead of a much-copied large home, opt for a smaller hand-crafted home. Skip the movie and go to the play. Pass on those concert tickets and support a local band. I know all this is a dream and isn't likely to happen but it's worth hoping for. If more people started to think this way and started to buy this way then maybe a few more of us could begin to live full lives, by creating for a living. Until then, create when you can and love the journey.