More so than ever, our community of makers is being called to commit even deeper to living a creative life. Art brings beauty and balance into not only our own lives, but into the lives of others. Our role, as creative people, is essential.
In this series of artisan features, we are focusing on what it takes for makers to live a committed creative life. Making a living doing what you love doesn’t just happen. It is the result of dedication and commitment. This post highlights my own life’s journey to living a committed creative life.
I graduated from high school in Juneau, Alaska at the age of eighteen and spent a year as an exchange student in Northern Italy. I returned home from Europe to what I thought would be four years of higher education in a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. Within my first month I knew this was the wrong path.
I finished out the semester and left with no regrets. The time I had spent in Europe, the creativity I experienced, the autonomy, the adventure, had reset my state of mind. There was no going back.
Not really knowing what to do, I returned to Juneau and began working for John, a friend, who was an artist and graphic designer. At the time I had no idea what a graphic designer did, but I remember thinking as I watched him work, “People get paid to do this? How much fun is that!”
When the end of summer arrived, John encouraged me to attend a private applied art school in Seattle, Washington. I think he saw a younger version of himself in me, and without me really understanding, he put me on the path to living a committed creative life.
I was twenty years old when I moved to Seattle. I had no place to live. I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have a portfolio. All I had going for me was the recommendation from my graphic artist friend/former employer in Juneau. John had called in advance to let them know I was on my way.
I arrived at the school and was interviewed by the founder, a recently widowed woman in her mid-sixties. She inexplicably invited me, a complete stranger, to come live with her, leading to a very close friendship and mentorship that lasted until her death many years later.
For the next four years I took as many art classes as was possible. I paid my tuition by working in the school office. I rode a bike or took the bus. I never ate out. I didn’t drink or go to nightclubs. I borrowed videos and books from the library, did my shopping at estate sales and thrift shops. I was committed to a creative life.
After graduation I took every job that came my way, following the advice of one of my teachers;
“Do whatever it takes to stay within the arts. You will be tempted by money. It is experience that you need to focus on during your early years.”
That was thirty-five years ago. Thirty-five years of showing up, day in and day out, whether the work was pleasant or not. This commitment to living a creative life is what has built Nunn Design. I have never wavered from this road less traveled.
We are all being called to commit to the beauty that we as creatives bring to the world. This is our calling. We are essential.
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