I had a realization today.
I realized that I am in love with process. Most people start a process to create a product. It’s the end that everyone is looking for and the process is the means to an end. Endings are so often disappointing.
I had lunch with a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s one of those friendships where we can go for years without seeing each other, but conversation flows like we had never been apart. Anyway, somewhere in this conversation, we realized that a lot of people in our lives have hit this point where they’re suddenly dropping their current occupations, reevaluating priorities, and trying to figure out what it is they want to do, really. As we have fallen into our mid-twenties, we have a much better grip on reality and our personal values. We’re still just not sure what we really want.
T and I met freshmen year in the art department. At that time, I mostly wore black and thought I was going to be some kind of super famous artist and save the world. I also thought I would graduate in four years. Ha! We reveled in making messes. We wore our graphite smudges and paint spatters like badges of honor as we galavanted about campus. It was silly and it was glorious. Now, a little older and slightly wiser, we’re still searching for what we really want to do. We have both shifted our dreams from conquering the world to just wanting a small piece of it to call our own. I don’t have to conquer the whole world, I just have to conquer my world.
I realized I was missing my process. That’s what my creative work is missing lately. There is a process to it now: get assignment, meet, research, plan, sketch it out, put it together, cuss at my computer, revise, revise, revise. It’s not my process yet. This process doesn’t leave charcoal smudges on my face or stain my clothing. There’s no smell of color pencil or dizzying paint fumes. There’s to texture of canvas beneath my fingertips. There’s no instructor looking at the class sternly as he lists off the various chemicals in a cabinet and the multiple ways they could kill you if they are misused. Everything is smooth and sleek and clean. There is a pane of glass between me and my work. The element of danger comes in the form of touchy clients, deadlines, and software crashes.
What I value in life is the mess, the utter chaos of it all. I need to learn how to make design dirty and dangerous. I need some ink on my face and blood on my print. It’s this exchange that makes the art breathe for me, lets me bend the canvas to my will (most of the time). Love. Friendship. Food. Sex. Art. It’s all the good things in life that are messy.