Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Growing up Creative?

I was home in Iowa this past weekend for a family reunion -- 75 people from my extended family converging on my parent's farm for a three-day-weekend of food, fun, and fellowship. While in the midst of four generations of my family, I came to a wonderful realization that I'd like to share. I'll get to it in a bit, but first, a little backgound...

When I came to Hallmark three years ago, I was immediately in awe of the amazing talent around me. A naturally curious person, I began to ask my co-workers about their creative backgrounds. Many people had gone to specialized art schools or private art colleges. Several people spoke about amazing internships or past career opportunities at top design firms in New York or LA. Almost all of my colleagues mentioned "growing up creative," which was a new and interesting concept to me: some designers here have famous artists in their families, some were influenced by their parents who were fine artists themselves, some even had one-on-one training by famous artists or designers. I started to become intimidated: Why had I decided to study design? How did I even get a job at Hallmark with the amazing talent already housed here?

My co-workers all spoke of something that, at the time, I didn't think I had: a creative upbringing. As a farm girl from Iowa who attended a state school (Iowa State University - Go Cyclones), I quickly began to feel that I was in the shadow of these life-long, specially-trained designers and artists.

It wasn't until my family reunion last weekend that I came to a conclusion: Could it be that I actually had grown up creative? As part of our family reunion activities, my dad had created a 5 ft x 16 ft wooden puzzle, cut into 80 pieces. Each family member was to take a piece of the puzzle and, starting with their name, design a piece that represented them. As I watched four generations of my family creating their pieces, I started to realize that even though none of my family members are classically trained artists, and none of them have gone to a specialized art school (and certainly none of them had a design internship in NYC) each of them in their own way is indeed creative. My dad drew an illustration of his favorite place on earth - the White Cliffs of Montanta, complete with him in his canoe! My 3rd cousin wrote and illustrated her story about being adopted and about her love for her grandparents. My 88 year old great-uncle drew a picture of the state of Iowa, and labeled all of the places he had lived during his life and memories from those places. My brother-in-law, who is probably the least "artistic" person I know, drew a history of his teaching career using the school colors of each school where he has taught.

It wasn't just the puzzle pieces designed that weekend that showed our creativity. It was the dinners that my mom cooked for 75 people each night, it was the hymn sing on our deck with my 2nd cousins making up harmonies to classic hymns, it was the storytelling around the campfire and looking at the rock formations on the river during the early morning canoe floats. And it was evident during Sunday morning church in the hayloft of my family's barn where we all gathered, 8 months old to 88 years old, to celebrate all of the joy we had been given because of each other and our individual personalities, woven together, to make our unique, and yes, our creative family.

I discovered last weekend that creativity is actually in all of us, in many ways, shapes, and forms. It is with us when we are young, and grows and changes as we do. We just have to know how to recognize it and draw it out of ourselves - and each other.


jehan said...

hi creativemind, do i know you??

Anonymous said...

you certainly do! well, maybe not personally, but i visited your school last spring with some artists from hallmark to do a workshop... welcome to my blog!

Eric said...

I grew up in Iowa as well, and would agree that Iowgians (sp) are creative!