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September 8, 2013
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Do we matter? 

 

I'm specifically talking about "us" as designers, artists, or creative people.  Do artists matter? 

 

I have two personal stories that have helped me gauge and answer that question for myself.  I hope they help you too.

 

(SIDE NOTE:  I believe in a God and I believe that God loves me and leads my path but that I have free will and can turn from his leading and do my "own thing".  Both of these stories have a TON of "God flavoring" that would make them much longer, so know that they are there if you want to read between the lines and find them.  In short, both stories are answers to prayer.)

 

After 9/11 I felt worthless. Making cartoons just wasn't important in the new post 9/11 world.   Firemen, policemen, construction workers, teachers, healthcare workers, architects- really, anyone that contributes to rebuilding our world and its infrastructure, those people had important jobs to do. We needed them and we would continue to need them as we moved forward as a nation.  But cartoonists, animators, designers, filmmakers, illustrators, and entertainers?  Not really.  I realized how frivolous my job was. I contribute to shows/ books/ movies that keep kids (primarily) entertained.  Even Saturday Night Live shut down for a while.

 

As time passed, our nation learned to laugh again.  Saturday Night Live came back on and officially gave us permission to laugh again.  And I worked my way through where I fit in the big world I live in.   Art/telling stories were all I could do and my first priority was to use that ability to feed and clothe my family.  I got back to work doing that and soon realized that in a less direct way I was still contributing to society by taking care of my family.  Ultimately, it's the most important thing we do as citizens in our community.

 

But I learned one thing from that experience that I have never forgotten. That the jobs out society deems as glamorous and important, are not. The ones that really matter are the jobs that will help you survive in a world turned upside down. I remember 9/11 for many reasons but one is to make sure I never get too big of a head in where I am in my career and how important I am because of it.    I hope I never forget that.

 

My SECOND STORY happened recently.  Just last week I was at a high school football game (watching my daughter cheerlead more than watching the actual game), sitting next to another dad who is an architect and we started talking about art and becoming an artist.  Though we come from radically different worlds of art, we had very similar passions and complaints about clients and newer up-and-coming students of art.  We also mutually complained that art schools were broken.  They are too expensive and are not teaching students real-world knowledge and abilities that will get them jobs.  We talked about what we would say to them if we had the chance to speak at an art school.   My friend said something I had never fully considered, and mostly because I live in the world of creating characters and animation.  He comes from the world of creating THINGS.  Buildings and structures.  He sees the big picture of the world, I guess you could say.  He said, "I would tell the art students to look around the room they were sitting in.  Look at their chairs.  They're iPhones.  Even a football field.  (Which we were looking at in that moment): EVERYTHING YOU SEE WAS ORIGINALLY CREATED BY AN ARTIST.   Wow.  I took that in for the first time and really considered it.  Everything is designed in some way.  Well done or weak and rushed, it's still designed.  What a blessing that was to my life.  Was my life's work important?  Was his life's work important?  You bet.  We were part of a greater whole of artists that were defining THE PLANET!  I know that sounds corny or far-reaching but there is truth in it.    Though this happened recently, his words have been rolling around in my head ever since.  Enough so that I needed to write this down and share it with other artists.  

 

And, more importantly, I feel like my Maker wants me to consider both stories together.  One story shows me not to consider my art (and life) TOO important and the other shows me not to belittle that ability and take it for granted.    Artists have a place in this world and it is an important one.  We may not get the recognition we deserve all the time, but I can look around any room, house, building, any book, any THING and realize that there is a reward to it that is beyond financial. 

 

Lastly, I believe that we are "called" to be artists.  Artists, even the ones that do it as a hobby (creating art is not how they earn their living), have a passion in them that can't be put out even though choosing this path will lead to hard work, hard times and hardships.  Art chose us; we did not choose art.  Who would?  It's a life pursuit that is NOT celebrated financially and (usually) taken for granted.  Only other artists love your art as much as you loved creating it.  The rest of the world either scratches their heads or in a best-case scenario, say, "That's cool."  

 

Accept your life and your place in the world.  Celebrate the people around you that support and love you.  Be content in the frustration and passion of creating your artwork.   In my opinion, knowing that you matter is the key to happiness.    

Favorite this story if you like it and others will see it.  Thanks, Tom B.

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:icongmland:
gmland Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Artist
Wonderfully written, Tom. As that friend that was sitting in the stands with you that day, I am honored that my thoughts moved you to write such a compelling story of faith and motivation. It is truly an honor to call you a friend and I can't thank you enough for the kind words. As a kindred spirit in the world of art and creativity, I too share the belief that our work is done of an inner desire to share that which our creator gifted us with and make the world a better place every day with those gifts. 

To all of you struggling to find your path, don't ever despair; Your path finds you. Be true to yourself and your art. The one thing I have always told kids asking me how to get into architecture is, you cannot teach someone to be creative. Creativity is in you. Harness that gift and make it uniquely yours in whatever career you choose, whether its writing books, accounting, making clothes or designing cars. When I hire someone, I don't look at their college resume, I look at their body of work. I want to see a person so driven with their craft that they INSIST I hire them. I want to see that fire in their eye of a desire to make their work be a difference in the world. A creative person always runs the meeting. The group always looks to the most creative in the room because they are the one with the ideas. Be a leader. 

If you wind up doing what you love for a living you'll never work a day in your life! Tom and I share that blessing and I hope that each one of you will some day as well.
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:icontombancroft:
tombancroft Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Thanks for adding these thoughts Guy.  Really inspirational.  You're my hero too!  
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:iconeltheking:
ElTheKing Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is unbelievably true, and recently I have been questioning why I even do art when society looks down on people like us- creative spirits. Even my BTC teacher disapproved when I said I wanted to be an artist, according to our school art careers are useless and unnecessary when we could be engineers or academics. My parents always back me up and support me and that's truly a blessing, but everyone else scoffs and says, "An artist? What kind of farfetched useless career is that? You have more potential than that."
But this genuinely made me smile. Even though I am merely a hobbyist, I know now how much art means to me- how much I want to go down that road.
Art is something that makes us us, and I think the world without the arts is like a book with no punctuation- no pauses, no rests, no time to stop and think. 
And if anyone has read this far, thanks for hearing me out. ^-^
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:iconrilguia:
Rilguia Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Student General Artist
Thank you so much for writing this!
 My brother always laughs at me for studying arts and wanting to work on the animator industry, he does it so much and so often, that sometimes it makes me feel so bad that I 
rethink about my life and my dream. And it's not only him, but people around me. Whenever my uncles, cousins... asks me "So, what do you want to study? what are your plans for your future?" , I always start beating about the blush.
But then I go to school and look at my notebook and I see more drawings than notes, I watch a lot of movies and I enjoy animation movies, who cares if they're for children? heck, I even get all excited when I buy a new block of blank papers!

So, I think, If we have one life, and one life only, to live as we want, why should I spend it on whatever people expects me to do? We don't have to.
 And I don't want to.

And by the way, hell yeah artists matter! how can you laugh at me (my brother) about wanting to study animation, when you watch everyday The Simpsons?

Thank you for writing this and sharing this with us. =) It really made me smile.
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:iconnextgenify:
Nextgenify Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is so true, not to mention how non-artists shrug at other people's work and walk away like nothing ever happened. Not a whole lot of people realize the work artists put into everything.
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:iconblaue-rose:
Blaue-Rose Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Great story. I totally agree and love this :love:
Thanks for sharing~!!! :meow:
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:iconraesm:
RaeSM Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013
This was beautiful. o~o Thank you
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:iconyami-notenshi:
Yami-noTenshi Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I agree. In the end, even if artists aren't, like you said, 'TOO important', I couldn't imagine life without art. From music, to literature, design, anime, everything else, they are what help people go on even when things get hard. They help us laugh and smile , and in the end, are what makes life worth living.
In my case, I went through a lot of bullying for years through grade school, and what helped me most during those years, the reason why I didn't lose it, was art. Music, anime, books- the characters some people created, the world that I found outside of ours, that was what pretty much kept me going and smiling every day. Now, my life's story isn't what I wanted to gt across here, but just what importance art really had in my life.
Once again I say, I couldn't imagine a world without art.
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:iconneowkitty:
neowkitty Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
;3; just yesterday i was pondering almost the same question... except i was thinking about earth as a whole. why do we have to survive anyway? its a very questionable thing to me but i came to a conclusion. that most probably since god made us, and our brains and how we think. could it be that we are all just characters in a bigger story? the fan-fiction that god has made to entertain himself? since he does know the future the past and every thing doesn't that make life boring? not knowing what happens next is what makes life so entertaining. so i say enjoy that chu don't know what happens next. since we have been blessed with the one thing god dosent have, ignorance.
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:iconwakamash:
Wakamash Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013   General Artist
I needed this.
Thanks a lot, man. c:
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