Creating is difficult.
The ‘creating’ isn’t so difficult—the struggle lies in what comes before the ‘creating.’ What do I have to say? More importantly, who am I to say it? Why should I even try when a quick online search or a brief flip through print proves my comparative inadequacy? I’m sure there are some people who can put pen to paper without the slightest hesitation or self-doubt. I’d like to meet one someday. The more exposure I have to artists, the more I discover creators who share these feelings, regardless of their training, skill, or media. We struggle with this pervasive, humiliating question:
Who am I to create?
This doubt is only one side of the motivational tug-of-war. Its adversary is the manic, inspired, insatiable creative drive that calls this doubt into question—makes us doubt our doubts. With the creation of art, our creative drive ultimately wins, though often just barely. As an artist, I want to make things. That should be enough, right?
For a long time, I downplayed my dream to create. I convinced myself that being an artist was too unreliable, too unstable, too perfect to be a viable career path. To be a functioning member of society, you have to hate your job. My family did not support me in this; they want me to do whatever I want to do. These truths were self-imposed. A life of creativity would bring me too much joy and too little means to pursue, so I decided to become an art teacher. No one hires art teachers, so I would study English education to secure a job as an English teacher and then transition my way into assisting with art. This was my logical, detourless plan as a beginning college student. I followed this plan. I died a little inside every day.
I love to help people. I love to see the mental spotlight switch on and brighten the sky of infinite possibilities. Teaching made sense and English came easily, so combining them into a vocation was a logical decision. I excelled in my classes and trudged through my disinterest and depression, convincing myself that life would be better once I entered the classroom. It wasn’t. Like a Jackson Pollock hanging in a fluorescent-lit waiting room, I worked well but didn’t fit. The painting added greatly to the room, but the environment was causing great damage. I needed restoration.
I found brief reprieve in my literature and composition classes. Since my university had no art program, I dropped the education portion of my degree and strictly studied English. My professors encouraged creativity in assignments, so I submitted poems for midterms and paintings for finals. Each piece led me closer to me and I could feel myself begin to inhabit who I was. I discovered I had a voice. I began to wake up.
Graduation came and went, a year of unemployment came and went, and I found myself climbing inside that neat, logical box again—only this time, instead of a classroom, I entered into the bowels of a public library. I sought a job that I might enjoy which would allow me the time and energy off-work to create and possibly pursue graduate school. This quickly proved impossible. I love to assist people, but I am not built to service nearly a thousand people daily and simultaneously perform executive assistant duties. Some people are built to function in that capacity; I am in awe of them. My introversion and seemingly incongruent social skills left me undetectably miserable to outsiders. Once again, I excelled in my dictated tasks and continued in misery. I regressed and fell asleep again, hoping my attitude and tolerance would buoy with prolonged exposure.
People perform jobs they hate every day; many do so with excellence. I understand and admire those who persist to provide for those dependent upon them. Similarly, I would do anything to ensure the survival of my family. However, I accepted this position out of fear and as a result, I hated my life. When I woke up the second time and saw that I once again ignored my instincts in favor of pseudo-security and compliance with the societal model of a career, I resolved to stay awake. I didn’t know exactly how, but I was going to make things. I wanted to add to life instead of sleeping through nightmares of complacency. I wanted to find my voice, train it, and use it. And just as the glow of this discovery settled, a sinister accusation permeated my joy.
Who are you to create?
I am an amateur artist with little professional artistic experience, a degree in English, a minor in secondary education, and a penchant for the ‘safe route.’ A majority of my experience is in assistant roles and painful customer service. A brief internet search will provide hundreds of examples of artists superior to me in technique, training, and output. But the steadfast and objective truth about art is that different art speaks to different people.
Art, in any form, communicates. People receive messages, knowledge, and understanding in as many ways as there are people—even more. When I reject self-centric thought and use my drive and skills to offer something to receptive eyes or ears or hands, I wake up and remember who I am.
Loving Studios is the means by which I explore creativity in as many forms as I can, including paint, pencil, marker, food, wire, glass, ink, fabric, pixels, string, words, and ultimately, ideas. I may pursue various forms of occupation to support my expression of creativity, but I am first and foremost an artist.
Who am I to create? I am Chad Loving. I create because I have something to say and a unique way to say it. I create because I want others to create. I create because I was created to.