What is Art? What is Work? Is Work, Art; or is Art, Work?

Recently I was diving back through some of my older blog posts and my older artwork, and a couple things struck home to me.

First off, I love the blog I wrote prior on Ever Evolving Creative Outlets, it just rings so true even as I look back on it years later. It’s true in that I’ve continued my quest to balance my work, personal life, art, and a seemingly ever growing set of responsibilities through the years. Never in some of my wildest dreams could I imagine where I am today, but those small decisions and guides really helps continue to put things into perspective.

Next, the wave of nostalgia I got looking through some of my older 12×8 drawings really took me back to a different time. I don’t think I’ve looked at some of those drawings in years, and to see some of them immediately brought me back to:

  • late nights at college drawing in a cold, bleary dorm room with the light buzzing in the background
  • sitting at home in my living room, coloring pieces that would shape my early art career
  • staying up until the sun came up the next morning, working on something so clear in my head I didn’t want to lose it
  • reflecting on the past, and a life that the sands of time continue to wear away at
  • a blossoming love to which I never knew what was in store for me
  • an ideology and philosophy that is still buried deep within, where kindness reigns supreme

These time periods and many more are reflected in those pieces. It’s funny, while on the surface they very much are doodles, mess ups, or partially competed, the fondness I have over that period and those drawings is one I hope I never forget.

Lastly, we’ve got to deal with the present. I am extremely fortunate to be in a position that enables both a creative outlet and allows me to pursue a challenging, technically focused career. This is where the theme of (art)work comes into play. At the moment, art is on the back burner and work is the main driver. Of course it is, because that is what pays the bills at the end of the day.

If these roles were flipped, art(work) would apply here and art would be the main medium of acting out the idea of “work”. At the time, work is an enabler for art, but if I only did art full time I would need to balance that out with some kind of accomplishment – some kind of labor. Is art simply a labor of love, or does one need more than art to feel fulfilled with their day? Being a professional artist is in fact work – so looks like there is no getting out of them either way.

My role in my current organization enables me to focus on creating things 6-12 months (and more) down the road. These projects help drive a multi-million dollar organization that continues to grow and employ people each day. That vision (art) carries me through the work, allowing me to think about things in abstract, out of the box, or in different ways. The pressure of performing tradional daily tasks is very different compared to the pressure of building a piece of art/product that many people are working their butts off to accomplish in 2 years. Both pressures are valid and warranted, because one can’t exist without the other. When you help set the vision like that, the art that emerges needs everyone on board – both technical and non-technical to see it through.

Much like a captain of a ship, the director of a movie, or a structural engineer of a skyscraper; everyone starts off with a vision of which they will chart a path towards. For me, art is in both the journey to get to that final destination, and the destination itself. Those are two different works of art that should be cherished in their own right.

Whether your vision takes you through the next day, next month, or next year; be sure to stop every once and a while and appreciate the structures, places, people, and environment you have created for yourself. This is the work of art you are constantly creating not only for yourself, but for those you love and cherish around you.

My goal is to create an ever growing wake of art in my path. That art might not always be reflected as a drawing, painting, software project, or any other hobby, but it should be a reflection of me, my interests, my choices, and the hard work I put in to convey the messages that I would like to. It’s not going to be a perfect ride, and I am far from that, but the reflections off of those wake waves should showcase the person that made them. Me.

That is my (art)work.