Step 1: Start With Heart
Being creative in my humble opinion is best served out of personal passion. When you can tap into what drives you as a person and gets your juices going, then it becomes a labor of love versus a tedious duty. As with all the greatest works of art in life I think they are nearly all born out of passion.
Ever since I was a child I loved doing art, would spend hours painting, drawing and doing pastels, copying images out of skateboarding magazines (my second passion in life) or recreating other artists work from art magazines my dad gave me. With my Commodore Amiga 500 computer I also had my first bash at digital animation and made my own Star Wars style animation series. I wish I had some record of that now and perhaps should have stuck with digital animation all along. I also quite enjoyed the odd, cheeky caricature of people too. I even found a spot in the Cadbury’s National Exhibition of Children’s Art with a painting I did when I was ten. This got me a spot in the local newspaper and I sincerely thought my life path would be built around doing artwork.
My first real job was as a roofers laborer with my next door neighbor. I liked the hard physical work and enjoyed being outdoors. With this knowledge my career counselor at secondary school funneled me into construction management education. I did not get the A-star grade I hoped for in Art for GCSE’s and skateboarding had died out in my town, so my drive to do art had wained also, so I just went with the flow, knowing that I enjoy art when its for fun not my vocation. With hindsight I sometimes wonder if I should have studied art or graphic design, since I can not escape the need to be creative to find some sense of fulfillment in life.
To some degree construction work allows for creativity and it can be quiet rewarding to design and then build a unique creation or take a beat up house and remodel it to perfection. So it seems throughout my life the creative edge constantly makes its way to the surface and I cannot help but enjoy it when it does. When I was in children’s ministry we engaged in skits, songs, games, etc much of which we invented and implemented. For my nonprofit skate ministry I designed numerous skateparks and built them to my design, a thoroughly fulfilling experience bringing both my passions together.
I also designed my own curriculum, wrote short stories, parables and rhymes all of which I see as an extension of my artistic soul and the need for creative outlet. I am a terrible singer, not musical at all, so creations that involve images and/or words are where my focus lay. I also love to dance, but that to me falls under expression of self in a different genre than artistic creativeness, more in tune with skateboarding. Even in the Army when I had least freedom of self expression, I look back and am amazed how much I actually did. On deployment I used my skatepark building carpentry skills to build dividing walls and completely build my own bedroom, fitted out with bed, desk, shelves and retracting laptop holder. How often does anyone get to do that? I filmed and edited numerous videos, first started self publishing children’s books and built my daughters a two story play house. I also had a lead role in a fun little Army recruiting video. The last year of service I took a couple college classes, one of them being Art History. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it reminded me how hugely important art is in this life. The quote that stuck with me most is ‘ART IS ETERNAL’. I love that. It just resonates with me.
My biggest motivator for creativity these days no doubt comes from my children. I have two daughters and anything I can do for them in a fun creative way I see simply as an expression of my love for them. Since there are no two humans I adore more, it’s easy to see why it is a pure pleasure to create children’s books for them, the playhouse and a custom 3 level hamster cage for example. One of the funnest activities we used to do together all three of us, was to play Minecraft on the Playstation. Being able to design entire towns, villages, characters, giant dragons, gardens and anything else we could imagine was a wonderful way to engage creatively together. Ella my eldest is a great artist herself always drawing and coloring. Aliza I call my ‘Little Engineer’ and she has a natural talent for all things 3D and excels at math. Never ceases to amaze me what the two of them will create.
I think God himself must watch with wonder at what we come up with. And if God is a creator I’ll take it a step further and say that when we are creating, we are just like him. His DNA is ‘Creator’ and he instilled that in us. When we create we are tapping in to what is inherently God within us. All creative expressions are a conduit of the eternal and I would go so far as to say they are acts of worship. Whatever natural talents we have He gave us and to exercise them is to tap into the divine. I know for me I feel most fulfilled in life when I have a creative outlet, especially when it serves others. It has nothing to do with making money, a career, or name for myself. It simply comes down to, this is who I am, so this is what I must do. If I don’t, something is broken and missing. Life seems shallow.
So, if you want to self-publish children’s books like me, I’m guessing you also probably have some little people in your life that drive your motivation. That’s good. Let that push you, not misguided ideas of fame or fortune, because you have the greatest kids book ideas in the world.