There is one constant undercurrent to my journey learning to work within the visual thinking/graphic recording world.
I’m so far behind.
Reading the stories of other people who do this, there’s a recurring theme of I always drew things and I started working in design in High School and I started calligraphy when I was eleven and the equivalent.
Meanwhile, here’s me at age fifty trying to learn gesture drawing and left-handed brush-lettering. Don’t get me wrong: I’m loving every minute of it, and I’m absolutely being supported by my friends and loved ones. And I’m showing improvement, and things are going well.
There just keeps on being this whispering voice in the back of my head: Think of how well they’d be going if you had started earlier. Now, I’m familiar with that voice; I got a dance degree at the venerable age of 28, after all (“28?!? You don’t look THAT old!” I remember one fellow student exclaiming during technique class). I’m well aware that the voice lies, that the experience I have gained doing Other Things will continue to serve me well, and that It’s Never Too Late and blah blah all the other things personal development blogs will tell you.
It’s just another version of the aphorism about when the best time is to plant a tree: ten years ago. Second best time? Right now.
This isn’t about that. No, it’s one of those Hey, I noticed this thing about myself; you might want to check and see if it applies to you, as well.
See, here’s the thing: it’s not that I never drew things. My parents can attest to the constant rotation of Ed Emberley books I checked out of the library. I still have notebooks covered with doodles (swords and spaceships, mainly) and even early typographical experimentations with handwriting and lettering.
But at some point, I stopped. And I don’t know why.
Ghosting Your Own Joy
I’m not sure exactly when it happened. Somewhere in my early teens; somewhere in between the fading of my BASIC programming and D&D hobbies and the start of my musical and theatrical obsession in high school.
I can’t take the easy route and blame some authority figure in my life who told me art would not be a realistic career choice (though I do remember my mother asking me why I was so obsessed with this “computer fad” – why would anyone want one of those in their house?).
It may just be that I didn’t have time – <sarcasm>Unlike now, I was always finding new and interesting subjects to delve into and try</sarcasm>. Whatever it was, at some point, in my brain, I divided the world into two parts: those who make visual art and those who don’t. And I put myself in the latter category.
I wish I had kept it up, on some level. I wish I had kept that skill, even as a hobby, developing and growing. A daily sketch, even something like Patrick Rhone’s coffee cup, would have kept those particular creative juices flowing.
But I didn’t. And now, I regret it.
That’s the point of this post. Think about that thing you used to do, that you liked, that for some reason, you stopped doing.
There’s not much point in wondering why you stopped. Maybe, instead, you do it, just a little, again. See what it feels like. It’s possible within a few moments you remember exactly why you stopped, and that’s good to know.
But maybe it’ll be like a reunion with a best friend you haven’t seen in years. Maybe it’ll be the re-starting of a new passion, a new joy in your life.
Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to find out?