Thursday, 1 March 2012

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Featuring Chet Zar, Paul Kidby, Mike Corriero, Alex Ruiz, Nathan Spoor and John Howe
Why do you do what you do? It is a question I have been asking myself quite a bit recently, not knowing fully where I want to go with my own art or why I even do it in the first place. I have been asking myself this and, this month, I asked 6 other top artists that very question and here I present their answers.
A big thank you to the contributors of this article.

Chet Zar

"Some people like to play or watch sports, some people like to party and socialize...I like to make art. For me, making art is the most fun thing to do. That's why I do it. Since I was a little kid it was my favorite thing to do. When I am in the flow, painting or sculpting or just doing anything creative, I feel at peace. In my dream world somebody else would deal with the business aspect of things and I would be left alone to paint. It's the one activity where I really feel like I am totally comfortable in my own skin.

It's all about the process for me. Once I create a piece, I don't spend much time admiring it- I want to get on to the next one. As I said- it's my favorite thing to do."

A digital study by Chet Zar.

An oil painting commission by Chet Zar.

Paul Kidby

"It is important for me to be creative because it defines who I am as a person.  All my daily points of reference somehow revolve around my love of the arts and my place in the world of creativity. Producing original artwork and sculpture is not only my job, it is also my passion and my pleasure. For me a life without creativity would be a barren and empty place, every day I immerse myself in multi-various forms of creativity and feel enriched by the wealth of talent around us.

I consider myself fortunate to be able to earn a living by working in my chosen field, and to be able to make a small contribution to the creative panorama of our time. I am not a public or social person and my work does the talking for me, without it I would be silent and undoubtedly frustrated. I have made art since I was a young child and consider it to be an integral part of my self - it is what I do, who I am and I really don't think there is any choice in the matter for me."

'Feldspar' the dragon sculpt.
"Death" from Disc World

Mike Corriero

"Creativity to me is in some ways a visual expression of freedom, of being given the opportunity to share your dreams, your ideas and your unique perception and understanding of the world around you. I feel it's important to be creative because creativity is the cornerstone to entertainment and innovation and so many popular forms of art, talent and expression; whether it be a musician writing a song, an author telling a story, a carpenter constructing a piece of furniture, a director filming a movie or in my case; An artist sharing visual artistic designs and conceptual imagery. 

Without creativity the world would probably evolve to become somewhat of a Dystopian Society. The only things that would exist would be pure facts and history, news and education. Without creativity even science and technology would be hindered and where would that leave us? The world, life and the future would be bleak, dull, barren and stagnant. George Orwell's novel "1984" comes to mind when you think about it from this point of view.

So I think being creative is detrimental to human beings in such drastic ways we might not even understand nor recognize sometimes. I feel relaxed, happy and free when I'm doodling a simple sketch, painting an illustration or designing a creature to be animated in a video game. If I was told 'from this day forth, you can no longer be creative in any way, shape or form...' I think life would lose all purpose. Being creative is what drives me and motivates every day of my life. It's who I am, it's what I do and being able to share my ideas, talent and what I love with the rest of the world is why I do what I do."
A digital painting by Mike Corriero.

A digital painting by Mike Corriero.

"One of the main reasons I'm creative and have to be creative, is because it's a outlet. Plain and simple. The artist's brain contains so many ideas that to keep them all inside, one might self destruct! It ultimately is a way of life for me, carrying that creative mind with me ALL THE TIME, whether I like it or not and so with that mindset, I'm always absorbing information specifically for artistic reference. For example, driving down the street the other day, I saw an interesting roof on a building. Really, it was just a graphic element repeating itself but what did I do? I took a snapshot with my phone and turned that element into a Photoshop brush. It's scary how often I do this!

That's part of what it means to 'live' art. Always observing with a somewhat scientific mind and always asking yourself, 'why is that happening, how is the light affecting that, why is that object interesting to me?' etc. So with all this information built up in your head, it subconsciously comes out when you're drawing and painting. 

This leads to the next reason I have to create: I CAN'T HELP IT! Sounds almost silly and primitive, even childish, but it's true. You give me a rock and I'll grind an image into the sidewalk. It's just this insane desire to imprint an idea onto something tangible. A piece of paper, a digital canvas, a leaf or whatever!

I think it's also a bit of a mystery too, the why, and this is because sometimes I don't know why the desire is there in the first place. It's always been with me since I was a child, as it is with many artists, and so the natural response to that desire is to pick up a pen, physically move your hand around, and see what happens."
A digital painting by Alex Ruiz.
A digital painting by Alex Ruiz.

Nathan Spoor

"It's important for me to be creative personally because it's a part of my being. It is who I am.

That shouldn't be a big revelation to anyone, or to any artist actually. We are what we are and who we are. Whatever it is that knit us together keeps our beings vibrating at a specific level and attracts the energy or inspirations that drive us to create our works. I am in a constant search to harmonize with that moment. That energy. Muse. Whatever term one wishes to use to encompass that moment of attaining oneness with the universe and that flow of ideas and beauty beyond our physical being.

I create because I must. If I am not connecting with that true persona then a part of me begins to ail. Part of your soul dies when you turn away from your true nature as a creative individual. But if we invest in it and encourage it in some way, even some small personal secret way, then it stays healthy and grows and we find a happiness that can glow and inspire from deep within.

It's also important to be creative because one has to stay sharp and receptive to new ideas. Art as an action is an evolutionary process. We must constantly challenge and accept challenges from all avenues to maintain a fresh approach and ideology for our works.

Why I do what I do, or why anyone does, is a combination of so many things. It's personal choice, it's the gravity of one's surroundings and demands upon them. The 'why' is an ever changing reality. I cannot change the 'why' but I can choose to engage in the now. If I'm constantly keeping something going somewhere in my mind then I'm happier and know at some point that I'll be able to sketch or write or tell someone about a fun new idea. I suppose my job is to engage the 'why' and see what I need to invest in to attain a goal or achieve the balance I need to be an okay person from day to day.

I do what I do because I must. Because no one else will, and no one else will do it the way I will. I do this because I feel it is my calling and my privilege to do so. To not find some way to engage others and entertain, challenge and inspire would be denying that about myself. It is my density."

An acrylic 'work in progress' by Nathan Spoor.
An acrylic painting by Nathan Spoor.
John Howe

"I think I do what I do through a mix of circumstance (the opportunity to actually make a living out of fantasy artwork) and the desire to tell stories in pictures. I suppose I might have painted on cave walls or on black-figure pottery, done manuscript illustrations or allegorical scenes... in this century it happens to be books and movies." 

A cave painting by John Howe... I mean, Watercolor painting...
Why do you do what you do?

Share the reason here and leave a comment!

Thanks for reading.

Lloyd Harvey


  1. From a selfish perspective I like being an artist (in particular, being a fantasy illustrator) because it requires all the activities I naturally involve myself with: telling stories, observing life, reading books, learning history, studying science, solving problems, imagining things that are beyond everyday experiences, being quietly alone for much of the day and using some tool to make something. Tools have always been my favorite toys because they can bring forth something new where other toys were only pastimes. I love visual art. Seeing great art is thrilling, even uplifting at times. How can you love something without wanting to be an active part of it?

  2. Why you ask? I didn't know I had a choice not to.

  3. So glad I found this blog. I do what I do because visual art is the best way for me to communicate all of the ideas I have in my head. Talking is nice, and so is writing, but drawing and painting- the process of creating? That's pouring out my heart and making it into something solid and unique from anyone else.



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