By LYNDSEY K. HEWITT
I remember the first time I was recognized for having an artistic eye. I was in elementary school and I drew a picture of a dragon—big, red, and surprisingly defined for being drawn by the untrained hand of a second-grader.
The piece was selected for a children’s art show held at the local mall. It was framed and had a little sticker of information about the artist—me!—and displayed for all the world (or, rather, the small community of Oskaloosa, Iowa. But to me, the world) to see.
I remember that was the first time I felt truly proud of myself. I created an image out of nothing and people thought it was nice to look at.
That small, seemingly meaningless childhood experience has stayed with me my entire life since. Although my mind had changed here and there over the years as to what I wanted to do, I always came back to art. Maybe not necessarily drawing, but art nonetheless.
When I started college, I declared my major as Business at first because I was told that it would guide me to a money-making career. But mid-way through an accounting class, I was absolutely miserable. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. What I knew I loved to do, which I discovered in high school, was take pictures and write. So I sought out the student newspaper and changed my major to journalism, while minoring in art. I was infinitely happier.
What is art?
I think art is the creative reaction that results from the need to express the feelings and emotions inside of us. I’m often overwhelmed by nature and events in the world around us, so as a journalist, I find fulfillment in expressive documentation via photography and writing. But a filmmaker, a painter, a musician, a seamstress … release those creative tensions in other ways.
And for all artists, we should be thankful. They make our movies, they make our clothes, they write our stories, they take our pictures. And it’s all born out of a very human desire to express. Each thread, word, thought, stroke, tune is the product of a person’s feeling. Those feelings could range from overwhelming love of someone or something, pain from childhood, simple passion for a craft—the possibilities are boundless.
More often than not, these creative paths are cast aside as unimportant compared to other subjects or career paths. To fix this, we just need to remember how important it is to express, to imagine, and realize how far art’s hand extends into our daily lives. To be appreciative of the raw human emotion that art is born from. Every artist is putting himself or herself out there for the world to interpret when they display their work.
Artists of all types—musicians, photographers, fashion designers, writers—are often paid little to nothing due to lack of support, or simply because they’re just not seen as integral to society.
Support school art departments, whether through donations or by simply voicing your appreciation through something as simple as a Facebook post or an editorial to your local news organization. Employers of artists: Don’t undercut the talent you employ; recognize them for their work, pay them fairly, and treat their craft with the dignity it deserves.
Art is not unimportant. Art is inspiration—it gets us through the good times and the bad. I often wonder how my life might be different if I hadn't drawn that dragon. But I’m happy with who I am, working (for not so much money) in the creative field. I may not be wealthy, but I thank that little dragon for putting me on the path to happiness.
Lyndsey graduated from Lock Haven University of PA in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and minor in Art. She worked for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette for two years and is now a freelance journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @lyndsey_hewitt or view more of her work at lyndseykhewitt.wordpress.com.