Growing up in DC my parents took us to art museums. It never occurred to me that other people weren’t spending a Sunday strolling endlessly through those hallowed halls. From a very early age I fell in love with Mary Cassatt and Degas. Soft, innocent confections. As I got older, I drifted away from the pretty expressionists, taking a passing interest in Matisse and Monet and Picasso and all the greats, moving on to my true home, abstract expressionism. These mad geniuses spoke my language. Their work spoke directly to my soul. Rothko. Those color fields vibrated with all the angst a canvas could contain. Franz Kline, big black strokes of iron, crisscrossing each other. I didn’t care why. They were perfection. I liked Pollock. But Motherwell. Diebenkorn. And so on and so on. I could also permanently reside in the clean orderly lines of Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, and Piet Mondrian.

Of course, I went to art school. where else would I go? And then they asked me what my major would be. I chose what felt the most me and what seemed the most responsible in terms of paying rent: photography. But I still wanted to be a painter. Or maybe even something that didn’t have a word or something that was everything. Like Robert Rauschenberg. Painting/silk screen/photo/sculpture. How dare you ask me to play favorites. But I did. Once I bullied my way into a drawing class with the best teacher MICA had to offer, Howie Weiss. He taught me to create work I didn’t believe was in me, always pushing me to find that elusive, makes-no-sense, forget-what’s-supposed-to-happen-on-the-page and do the art I was meant to do. And I did and it was abstract AF and I transcended. And then he remembered I was a photo major and he apologized for thinking I was a real artist.

Today I am a graphic designer. Well, I’m a human who makes money doing graphic design. I have paintings on my walls. Some of them I painted. The art critic in me will tell you they’re garbage. But I kind of like them. I mean I didn’t try to make them good. Why would I do that? God, what if I did try? Ok, I might’ve tried a little bit. They’re not terrible. For what they are. They add color to the room. They create a mood. I’m okay with that. Art is hard. As a creative person, I get tripped up by what my head tells me. Why do you bother? That’s not real art. Are you serious? But the artist in me says, leave me alone. I’m just starting. Let me make it be something before you tell me it’s nothing.

Maybe there’s an artist living inside you. Maybe you never even tried to make art because you think you should already be good at it, or you worry you weren’t born with that gift. But maybe it doesn’t matter. Besides, it’s all relative. It’s all subjective. I believe art isn’t supposed to be pretty. Nor does not have to look realistic. That’s why we have cameras! Art is meant to express, to evoke feeling, to calm, to enrage. It can be a means unto itself. So, you don’t need to worry if it’s “good.” If you think you want to create something, you should. Just try. Just start. Just put marks on a surface. A paper bag, a canvas. It doesn’t matter. Does it feel good? Awesome. Keep doing it.