Little pin pricks of anxiety envelope me as I attempt to step away from making art on my computer and dedicate more time to my neglected love of making artful things by hand. When I was in art school studying visual communications, computers were still on the furthest fringe of my daily life. Our assignments were about visual problem solving and we sorted out those problems in messy print making studios, on splattered canvases, on desktops made of real wood, and in sketchbooks so full that the spines were often frayed and splitting apart. For me, the best part was that the dividing line between fine art and design were completely blurred. Time, experimentation, exploration and discovery in multi-media studios were at the foundation that brought us to our design solutions.
All this feels like a far cry to how I solve my design problems today. The real world of professional design often does not afford room for experimentation. Instead of walking around with paint under my nails I am a neatly packaged avatar bobbing my head around a digital space on a virtual desktop. I view this current reality to be full of as many blessings as it has curses. One of those curses came to light a few years ago when my husband and I bought an old fixer-upper house. Of the many tasks on my to-do list, I desperately wanted to designate an area for an art studio situated as far from my computer as possible. This prerequisite was meant to address the addictive and codependent marriage between my work and computing technology. I dearly missed making messy marks with real pencils, paintbrushes and inks and could never quite summon the strength to step away from that perfectly polished Macintosh with all its promises of immediate gratification. My strategy was based on the idea of ‘out of site, out of mind.’
Many renovation projects later the space was finally completed. But something unexpected happened. As I sat in my new studio I got performance anxiety. I was paralyzed by fear and unable to sketch. I found myself at a loss without my computer and was convinced that I had completely forgotten how to draw by hand. To be honest I was never a master illustrator, instead I was more graphically inclined but regardless I loved to draw and did it often. It was a skill I figured I would one day master with a lot of practice. So what if I took a year, or two, or twenty off to tend to my ever-increasing responsibilities of adulthood! I always figured it would be like riding a bike and I’d never forget how to do it. However the reality was setting in that by putting my daily practice of sketching up on a shelf where it collected years of dust, it appeared to have had an expiry date and that date had long since past. Or had it?
This is what I intend to find out here. I once saw a quote that read “art is questions, design is answers” (author unknown). Just as I had practiced in art school, I think it is paramount in my own journey that once again I blur the lines between fine art and design, because without these questions, there can be no answers.
The irony is not lost on me that I have chosen to share this re-discovery phase in a blogosphere but I do so for two reasons. One is that in hopes of sharing, I may be able to connect with the many like minded souls that I know are out there and two, that by having an audience, even if an imaginary one, it will make me more accountable towards my goal, to paraphrase Noah Scalin’s, to “make something everyday and change my life!”
I have this recurring fear that if I do not tip the scales back in favor of making ‘real’ things by hand now then I may forever loose the ability to tell stories in more meaningful or alternative ways. So before I completely forget how to command my ten digits I share with you, Drawing Pins – Creative Acts for Soulcraft.
Thanks for visiting!
P.S. I’d be remiss if I did not do a shout out to one of the major inspirations behind this blog, thank you Matthew Crawford for giving us Shop Class as Soulcraft. In it you have articulated so much better then I ever could what has been nibbling at the edge of my soul for so long now.