I believe in creating to the beat of your own drum, and always have. Our creative voices sing clearest and loudest when we create upon topics we are genuinely interested in, and I feel that that interest, that excitement in the subject matter shines in the work and attracts like-minded folk to us.
Indulge in your interests—create the decorative for the sake of being decorative, if that’s what makes your heart pitter-patter that much quicker. Professors in my university’s illustration program continuously drilled into us students that our art had to have meaning, it needed to convey a narrative or a message. However, this thinking never sat well with me and I still disagree heartily. For one, it completely disqualifies the entire profession of surface pattern design, which creates employment for so many different creatives in addition to bringing colour and joy to the products that surround us continually in our daily lives.
I listen to audio books as I work, often stories I know well—like The Hobbit (a favourite)—but as I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic for the first time two years ago, her words really came home to me. She advocated for “frivolous work” (which, I could concede, decorative work falls under - but not negatively!); she said, “…it’s okay if your work is totally frivolous, that’s allowed. It’s all allowed. Your own reasons to create are reasons enough”. Gilbert continued, “…do whatever brings you to life then, follow your own fascinations, obsessions and compulsions. Trust them, create whatever causes a revolution in your heart, the rest of it will take care of itself.”
So if there’s any advice that has fuelled my creative journey, it was to ignore the the advice so ladled onto us students that our work needed to have deeper allegorical or metaphorical intent. I celebrate, as Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently put it, “the frivolous”, and have a deep love and respect for my community of fellow like-minded creatives that have chosen to create for the pure joy of it, and indulge in exploring their interests visually to share with the world.