As a kid, I always wanted to be an artist. At that time, my definition of art was being able to draw and an artist, to me, was someone who could draw cartoons or real-life pictures. Turns out I really sucked at drawing. I was lousy with a pencil. My figures were too ugly to be even called figures. They were appalling. Even my stick figures were horrible. My pieces were incoherent. I greatly envied those who could casually doodle on paper and come out with wonderful pieces of art. I made them my friends, hoping I could learn from the way they positioned their hands when they drew and somehow, snatch a bit of inspiration from them; but till date, I still suck at drawing.
My definition of art expanded as I grew. Soon, a good handwriting was also seen as art. I really loved beautiful handwritings. At this point, I had been weaned from the pencil and introduced to pen and ink. I saw people who could write with pen and ink and the pages would look beautiful, devoid of mistakes. And if they did make any mistakes, it was an art form the way they cancelled it out. It was beautiful. Once again, I had clumsy hands. My handwriting was, and is still, an appalling sight. It always looked like a chicken was running across the paper. I was envious of those who could speed-write and still end up with a homogenous, well-rounded cursive. My words usually contained letters standing individually, like they abhorred mingling with each other. I also made lots of errors and ended up with a messy page. Again, I made friends with those who had beautiful handwritings, hoping to garner a bit of information on the way they did their thing but I drew blanks and was left with no change whatsoever in my handwriting skill.
Television and radio taught me that singing and dancing was art. Almost every station I flicked through had someone singing or dancing. I was a fan of the dancing groups. My earliest memory of a well-coordinated dance was watching the Michael Jackson Thriller video. It was a beautiful sight. Body movements and gyrations all synchronized to perfection left me in awe of the dance art. Almost every young boy, and even girl, wanted to moonwalk and breakdance. I desperately wanted to be a good dancer. My hips and legs, however, refused to heed my need. I could visualize and dance in my head but my body would refuse to move according to the rhythm. I only understood rhythm in my head, never in my body. While other kids would choreograph dance moves with ease and beauty, I was about as graceful as a newborn deer on a turntable on the dancefloor. I tried and tried till I gave up. I thought maybe my vocal cords would be of help. Listening to Celine Dion deliver a heart-melting rendition of My Heart Will Go On or whatever song Michael Jackson chose to sing, I was always impressed and moved. Everybody wanted to sing. Girls would deliver sonorous verses of popular songs. Boys were always in groups singing Westlife songs and they all sounded amazing. But every time I tried, even toads croaking would be extolled over the sound of my voice. I drank honey, licked aloes and even gurgled hot water to help me out but each time I opened my mouth to sing, my lungs and vocal cords would betray me. I was pissed.
I gave up on art. Closed my mind to that door in my life. I would never be an artist; not with me not meeting the standards society had set for me. I was clearly not cut out for this crap. So I fell into novels and found my escape. I found stories and words to soothe my discomfort. Soon I was writing short stories and other humorous pieces. I had friends who would read these pieces and they would laugh excitedly. I got people animated with my pieces. I found I could truly express my feelings with words and not feel trapped inside. I could cause people to acknowledge my worth through the things I put down. My handwriting still sucked but hey, it didn’t matter to me anymore. Then it finally dawned on me: I was an artist.
Art is not something defined. It is never that idea which society postulates or stipulates to you. You create art. It is an expression of emotion. A release in itself. It’s what gets you going. So whatever you find yourself doing, whatever makes you happy and feel expressed, it doesn’t have to be constrained to the walls of the normal art, you can do whatever you want and feel free. In anything and everything you do, never forget the most important thing: You’re an artist.
Image courtesy: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-you-re-an-artist/