When I was little, one of my favourite things about Christmas is that I could plaster my room with posters – well they were actually wrapping paper I think – but they were these complex pictures involving mice in festive scenes. Each ‘poster’ had dozens of mice. They were skating, skiing, tobogganing, building snow forts, decorating trees.
Each year I would unfold them and pin them up. I could stare at them for hours, soaking in all the stories, admiring all the details.
My own drawings are no where near as complex and story rich. But stories they always are. And the stories that I love in artwork are why I was never able to accept when I was told, in University, and then at art college, that I should be a fine artist. To me, a fine artist did “fine art”. I wanted to tell the tales, not compromise with mere prettiness. Besides, I had nothing to “say”. No great meaning nor protest that I wished to impart on the world with my pieces.
It doesn’t seem like a big thing, but it’s funny how a disconnect like that get into your head and stall you. It’s stupid and lazy, I know. And I see now that there’s just no excuse that can be made. I see now that a person just has to shut out all the outside voices pulling you in all directions – “you’re smart, go to university” “you should be a fine artist” “there are too many great illustrators out there – you people will never be able to make a living at it”…
But now that I have a daughter who’s insanely talented and driven to become an animator and illustrator, I wonder how I can encourage her with all good conscious when I’ve failed to inspire myself. I’ve always thought that the number one thing you have to do to be a good parent is set a good example. In all parts of your life. I realize that no one can succeed at this 100% talk is cheap. Kids will see who you are and what you do all day and how you think and talk and interact. They internalize all the lessons presented and then, if you’re lucky, they’ll plant their feet firmly in the base you’ve given them, and they’ll JUMP!