by Leah Perrino
It’s okay to not be sure who you are or what you want to do. How else would you try new things and discover new passions? I recently struggled with finding my creative self, and honestly, I still do from time to time.
There is so much I love. I love design. I love photography. I love painting. I love writing. I used to be so torn on which should take my focus. The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” literally haunts me. I thought I was taking on too much and that I couldn’t succeed if I did it all. I was inspired and uninspired all at the same time. I was so caught up in comparing myself to others and worrying about the outcome of my work that I didn’t know where to start or what to pursue, and I was constantly doubting myself.
To combat this, I challenged myself to create every day and find inspiration and motivation within myself. I never stop designing or painting or writing or shooting photos. I find different benefits working in each medium. I love them all for completely different reasons, and sometimes, I use one medium to escape from another when I need break.
Photography was my first creative outlet. I’m so passionate about it because it allows me to interact with the outside world, discover new things around me, freeze a moment in time and document my days. My passion started with film. Something magical happens in a dark room when moments are burned into prints. That feeling when I’m watching images I’ve created emerge from chemicals is a feeling I can’t replace with anything else.
Then came graphic design. I love telling a story and communicating a message through visuals. I love composing balance and harmony through color, type, forms, shapes and images. Design is so powerful, and it goes hand-in-hand with photography. I’m constantly using one to fuel the other, and ultimately, I’ve started a career out of these two.
But recently, I got a little stuck. I’ve been questioning my work, wondering if that’s all I want to do. I felt like I had more to express–more passions to pursue. I’ve been thinking of all the things I’ve ever wanted to do creatively and the many different channels to release my abundance of creative energy. I wanted to experiment with my own capabilities.
I never thought of myself as a painter, though I painted a lot in my design studies. One day, I had an epiphany, and I thought: I used to love to paint. I’m curious about it, and I want to pursue it. I’m not going to care about the outcome; I’m going to do it because I enjoy the act of doing it. This is for me.
So, I started painting. Every chance I could. And I fell in love all over again. I find a great deal of passion for the simple act of mixing paint, watching new pigments form and combining colors together in a composition. There’s so much peace in painting. As a designer, I find myself hunched over my computer day after day, perfecting everything across a grid (I swear I see an InDesign grid when I close my eyes before I fall asleep). So for me, painting is my outlet to get away from technology. It’s my way to express myself on a level where I feel totally free from screens, grids, structure and perfectionism.
I found that trying a new medium allowed me to release my energy in a totally new way and ultimately brought everything full circle. I pursue photography because I think capturing a moment is so beautiful, but I love painting because I think interpreting that moment, that inspiration, in my own way is just as beautiful. I use design to package it all up and communicate my message in an artistic way and writing as my outlet to organize my thoughts through it all. Each creative channel makes the other stronger and allows new ideas to bloom. The photos I take often inspire paintings and paintings inspire new designs, and that’s truly beautiful.
I think people are defined by their inspirations and their loves, and all of these combined make me who I am. I mean, take Andy Warhol for instance. Throughout his career, he pursued screenprinting, painting, illustration, photography, film, publishing and writing. His views and work have been my main source of inspiration for years. He pursued everything he loved and forged his own path.
While I still battle wondering exactly what I should be doing at times, I try to find a way to incorporate all of my passions in everything I do and make something beautiful out of it. What I am sure of is that I love to create and tell stories through visual art in any way that I can. I think it’s less about finding myself in other things or other people and more about building myself into who I want to be. In doing that, I’ve found it’s okay to open myself up to everything I love. It’s okay to have multiple creative outlets and try new things. It’s okay to not try to be the best at one thing, and instead, find the beauty in doing different things. It’s okay to feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s okay to not be sure.