Why do I create?

 

There are as many answers to that question as there are creators.  For me, I think it boils down to a few things-

 

“I LOVE that.”

This statement is pretty much what got me started as a kid.  Like all children, I drew frequently.  I loved cartoons, comic books, and videogames and when I wasn’t watching/playing/reading them, I was dreaming of them.  Drawing was an outlet for that energy.  As an only child, it became a way for me to release that excitement without tearing the house down or getting into trouble.  Videogames were my biggest source of inspiration, and during the early days games were limited enough that you were really required to fill in the gaps with your imagination, so I did.

 

“I think I can do that.”

For me, that isn’t a statement as much as it is a personal challenge.  I’ve always aspired to be like my favorite artists in some way.  When I was very young, it was Bill Watterson (still is).  There was so much energy and appeal in his work.  I would read the comic page in the newspaper every day, and I (like everyone else), knew that Calvin and Hobbes was the best strip out of all of them.  From there it was Jeff Smith, then J. Scott Campbell, then Humberto Ramos, then Claire Wendling, and Enrique Fernandez.  The list goes on and on and on.  The point is that each time I saw some inspirational work, I felt the need to see if I could reach that artist’s level of mastery.  Not to replicate their work, but to find the appeal and sensibilities in my own work that might inspire others in the same way that their work inspired me.

 

“Hi, I’m Mike…  I like to draw.”

When I was really young, I bounced around a couple of schools.  Nothing crazy (it certainly wasn’t like a lot of people’s childhoods where they moved every year) but as a shy kid, it gave me a way of identifying myself to everyone else in a new classroom all at once.  When I brought out my sketchbook, all the other kids would start asking me questions—questions that I had real answers to.  Also, I didn’t have to sit and stare at them while talking, I could focus on drawing.  That removed a lot of my anxiety of being in a room full of unfamiliar faces.  It meant I could get acclimated on my own terms, and get to know everyone in a way that felt comfortable to me.

As I got older, drawing became my shield against negative distractions.  When others were out partying, drinking, or getting into trouble, I would be drawing.  Sure I did other stuff; played videogames, read comics, watched movies, etc.  But it all really came back to feeding that need to see something new and inspiring.  I watched movies to be inspired, I read comics to see how other writers and artists perfected their craft, and I played videogames to jump start my imagination.  While everyone else was going through their formative years and slamming into adulthood, I was still on the same quest I’d started when I was younger.  My friends and classmates recognized this as well, and when it came to the extracurriculars, they never really pressured me about the stuff I didn’t like, mostly (I like to think) because they knew that I was excited about something else and saw value in it.  But hell, maybe I was a killjoy 😉

Drawing became a part of my identity in a way nothing else has.

The funny thing is, I never thought it would be something I could do for a living.  In fact, it was never even about that.  It was all about curiosity.  I basically became addicted to drawing and exploring things visually at an early age, and despite everyone else growing up around me and finding new interests, I never did.  I couldn’t fathom being good enough at any of it that someone would pay me to keep working on it.  Honestly, I always thought I’d work an average style 9 to 5, with a suit and tie and hard bottom shoes.  Either that or become a lawyer.

 

But that’s another story entirely.