Job, Career or Calling – Why Do I Create?

Happiness on a Rainy Day
Happiness on a Rainy Day, Fiber, 14”h x 18”w x 1”d, mounted on canvas

Recently I read the following parable in the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth:
Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?”
The first says, “I am laying bricks.”
The second says, “I am building a church.”
And the third says: “I am building the house of God.”

The first bricklayer describes his job, his day-to-day routine to earn money. The second bricklayer expresses a bigger picture, a stepping stone in his career. The third bricklayer, however, talks of the connection to something higher, bigger than him. He has a calling.

Of course, the parable prompted me to think about my profession as an artist.

If I would describe my occupation in the context of a job, I would say that I sew fabric together; in the context of a career I would say that I create art quilts. But is there a “calling” to create?

When you ask artists about the motivation behind their artistic endeavors, you might hear that they “have to” create, that creating maintains their sanity, that they enjoy the freedom of expression or being their own boss.

Yes, all of this is true for me, too. But for me (and many other artists), there is more: the wish to connect with the viewer and bring beauty in someone else’s life.

I thoroughly enjoy the creative aspects of my work, I love to play with bold colors, with fabric, with thread. I can get lost in my studio, forget about worries and feel suspended in time. The process of creating is my personal joy (and occasional struggle).

But the product, the artwork and its meaning, is for the viewer to enjoy. My work is about finding balance, about resilience, healing, and celebrating life. I aim to capture a mood or a mindset in my work and convey it to the viewer. My artwork intends to be not only colorful, but comforting, supporting, and uplifting. I strive to encourage others through the message of the art piece.

In moments of self-doubt, when the ugly demon of “not-good-enough” rears its head and I crawl deep into my own soul to look for the “why” behind my choice of being an artist, I always find the same answer: I create for my own benefit, but more than that, to benefit the viewer. If my work makes only one person pause, or smile, or feel like having an ally, then I achieved what I set out to do.

I don’t know if I would consider this a “calling”, but the purpose of my work is certainly bigger than me.

I’m curious: Do you have a calling or a mission in life?