Why do I make art? Who appreciates it? How do I get my work into a gallery? Why didn’t I become a doctor? How many of my children’s drawings should you keep? These are all art related questions (more or less) that run through my mind.
I started collecting photos of graffiti; it’s really like walking through a museum, admiring or not the piece of art and thinking, “what was the artist really trying to say”. In university, I took several classes on this subject, they were called art history classes. What I gleaned from those classes is that many times you can not know what an artist is thinking or trying to convey just by looking at their art, you must read the artist’s own words. I loved that class because I found it interesting to see how an artist used symbolism or color or hidden meanings to convey their messages. I wished the Tel Aviv graffiti artists had written a few words to the side of their creations to help me figure out what they were trying to tell us.
When I ask the question, “why do I make art“, I think most people would agree that creating art is a means of expression and communication. Some artists want to send a message or convey a feeling that is important to them, some of us want to inspire, educate, tell a story, document a place and time, some of us want to shock and others want to make pretty pictures to hang on the wall. But why do I make art? I think about this question a lot. I feel a need to create, I always have.
I started creating as far back as I can remember, every one in my family was creating around me. I started taking oil painting lessons when I was ten years old; I looked forward to taking a class every Saturday like a kid anticipates Christmas morning. I loved being around my very talented teacher and learning, her studio was a little log cabin in the woods. I studied art all through school and I was good at it, people took notice and I had created an identity for myself. As I entered university, I of course wanted to study art. I would have studied painting, but even though my parents had no problem with my career choice, my father protested that I must study a form of art that I could earn a living from. His thoughts were: ” what kind of work could a painter of pretty pictures find?” Dilemma.
I started studying at Indiana University because it had a beautiful campus! They also had an excellent art program, but after looking at a few schools, the campus was the determining factor for me. I studied graphic design, also known as commercial art because my parents could envision what kind of a job I could possibly get with these skills. The I.U. art department taught me classic design skills but no real job skills like pasting up type. I met the mother of a friend of mine once at I.U., my friend told his mother that I was studying art and she asked me why I didn’t study something more ambitious and practical. That comment (insult) has haunted me for the last 27 or so years. Studying art at I.U. were some of the best years of my life because I was immersed in the world of art and surrounded by friends.
In 1983, we didn’t use computers to create graphics yet at I.U. (creak, moan, dust blowing around) and I learned the basic hands on skills of the trade in future design jobs. I moved to Boston right after I graduated to live with a girl I had met studying in Italy and I looked for 3 years for a job related to graphic design and for three years I waitressed at Pizzeria Uno’s. Discouraged by my new career as a waitress, I moved to Chicago, closer to home to find a graphic design job. After my first year in Chicago waitressing again, I landed my first real design job for a hardware and plumbing company in Chicago. I learned how to design and layout packaging and draw plumbing parts on a Macintosh computer-a very important skill for my future-really. From drawing plumbing parts, I moved on to laying out magazines, to typesetting labels (super boring and tedious) and illustrating for a cosmetic company, to freelancing, designing and illustrating all the printed materials for a hospital and technical illustration for a medical company in Chicago.
I grew to hate working as a graphic designer, I wanted to be creative in a different way. When I wasn’t working two or three jobs to make ends meet, I was creating at home. I painted chairs and furniture for awhile and then I made sculptures and tiled them and somewhere in there I got married, kept freelancing (I had a gig illustrating for a children’s toy company-my favorite job so far) , had kids and then I started to make things for my children. We moved to Israel for my husband’s job and due to the lack of quality children’s products there, I opened a children’s boutique full of everything a child loves, designed and made by myself and a team of talented artists. After five years as a boutique owner, I moved my business to the internet and narrowed my creative focus. I now sew and needle felt toys and dolls for children and make one of a kind sculpted textile pieces.
Right now, I’m still an artist of utilitarian goals. I think that real expression is a future chapter for me, feeling free enough to express my valued thoughts and feelings through art will be an evolved ability for me. In the future, my art will take another path, just like life.