Have you ever been told “You’re not doing it right” when you were using your imagination or being creative? What effect did that have on you?
Let’s start with the fact that I have known since I was 10 years old that I wanted to be in the creative field. But it all really started before that…
I was in kindergarten and my teacher, Mrs. Blackburn, gave us a coloring project. My class colored in a very normal manner, generally staying in the lines. I however, did not. I colored the picture, then layered color after color over my picture. Once covered I took scissors and scratched lines to show the color underneath. Once completed, my drawing was displayed underneath all the others on the wall and you couldn’t see anything but the very bottom. Why? Because I didn't do it right. Although I loved to draw, color and create, it was not always in the “normal” way. I was a 6 year old with the start of a chip on my creative shoulder.
Fast forward to sixth grade. In order to get into seventh grade art your sixth grade teacher had to select you for it as the class was not open to all. I worked my creative tail off that year and thought for sure my silver pencil tree would cap off a portfolio of work that would get me in. I told my teacher numerous times that year how much I loved doing this and wanted to be in the seventh grade art class. I was told I wasn’t good enough and was passed up for a student that my art teacher knew personally and favored more in the class. This student didn’t take art that seriously and just wanted an easy course. That chip got bigger and more persistent.
Now to eighth grade and my next art teacher, Mrs. Christy, who did the exact opposite. She saw my passion for art and allowed me to use anything I wanted in the class to create with. To explore new mediums, combine mediums and just let my imagination go. She went as far as to submit two of my pieces into contests, unbeknownst to me, and they took two first place ribbons. I will never forget her and the positive reinforcement she gave which propelled my passion even further.
High school was full of artistic growth and infinite possibilities. I was allowed to experiment with new mediums like digital art, air brushing, sculpture, computer animation and more. I was encouraged to try everything and I did. My junior year I got the small display case to showcase my work. My senior year was full of independent study courses in art capped off by my own solo show in the main case by the theater and an acceptance letter to Ringling School of Art & Design. Both my main art teacher Mr. Roete and my counselor Ms. Brandimore encouraged, pushed, critiqued and opened new doors for my creativity.
I now run my own creative agency (11 years and going strong), I am a Warner Brothers fine artists for Chuck Jones Galleries, created a non profit to inspire imagination and creativity in everyone and still use crayons to color in “non-normal” ways.
What’s the point of this story? I have more kids and adults that come to my studio that used to love to create. But somewhere along the line either a teacher or parent was negative, told them it was terrible, they aren’t doing it right, why would you want to draw stuff, that’s just dumb, the list goes on. Whether or not they take a career in the arts isn’t the main point, it’s whether or not they even feel comfortable sharing ideas. Creativity is the engine that allows for new things that relate to any business or situation. When we beat that down we suppress a natural urge in someone to use their imagination. The person who is negative toward this usually had it happen to them and it became a scar, one that they pass on. Imagination and Creativity is an emotional thing. You can only take so much negativity before you just don’t use it anymore.
Do you have a story or a moment when your creativity took a bullet? I get it and I sympathize with you. I would encourage you to feed it a little to start. Draw something, make something, think of something impossible and plan how you could achieve it. Most of all encourage others, even if it may seem odd or not “normal”. What is normal anyway?
Imagination and Creativity is for children of ALL ages. If you want more information on our nonprofit and how we help inspire creativity and imagination, please check this link out.
Written by Ben Olson