Forced art: a purpose, but not my purpose.

Eleven years ago, I started doing graphic design as a hobby.  It was just something I wanted to teach myself on the computer my grandparents got me as a high school graduation present.  It was fun and I enjoyed it.  Not once did it cross my mind that I could make a living designing for other people.

Since those beginnings though, I’ve had several freelance graphic design jobs.  I volunteer my time to design for a benefit for the American Cancer Society every year.  I had a steady stint working for Kristin Chenoweth’s official fan club, and a few independent jobs came from that.  This week I’ve been doing work for a friend’s boss that sort of dropped into my lap.

With all of these jobs, I’ve learned some things about myself and the art.  It wasn’t until last night when the friend I am currently working for asked me why I don’t do this as a side business that I realized that I had an answer that I hadn’t yet completely put together.

Plain and simple, I don’t want it to be defined as my job.  Sure, it’s a good idea and I don’t get a lot of money every month in general, but it’s just not what I want for myself.  I don’t like doing it for people I don’t know.  I like knowing I’m helping out someone I trust and love.  In the case of Art4Life, I do it because of what it means to my friend who founded the event and because I want to help in some way.  I am a helper of others.  I like knowing someone is relying on me.  It gives me purpose, but it is not my purpose.

If you’re not doing it for fun, graphic design is a very forced art.  I believe that art should always start with inspiration and never ever have restrictions or guidelines for the finished product.  This is why it is not my job.  This is why I have never gone to school to expand my knowledge on the subject or properly taught myself how to use photoshop.  Here’s a secret – eleven years later I still don’t know how to fully use photoshop and I avoid it completely unless I really need to use it for something.  Therefore that is also why this isn’t my job.  There are people far more qualified to be working for you than me.  I’m sure that will always be the case with any job in any field but it is what it is.

For the last eleven years, I have been expected to sit in front of my computer to entertain myself daily.  I am grateful for it on some points – I’ve made the most amazing family for myself – but on the other hand, I don’t want to do what’s expected of me anymore.  I am not passionate about sitting here all day forcing inspiration that’s just not coming to me.  I’ve always been someone who needs to be passionate about what I’m doing.  I have to love what I’m doing.  I don’t want to settle into something like so much of society does just because that’s what pays the bills.  This is not all I am good for.  I don’t ever want to fit into that carved out mold, I want to break out of it and show the world that I know I’m meant for something bigger than what they see.  If I don’t love it, I’m not going to do it.  Maybe that won’t get me far in society’s eyes, but I know what I want.  I don’t care if it takes the rest of my life, I will go out and get it.

Thank you for the motivation all of my previous employers.

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