I have already publishedthis article on my old page. I want to post it again today – slightly adjusted:
For as long as I can remember I have been artistically active. When I was a child, it wasn't common for every household to have a television; there wasn't a constant program. And of course as a child I wasn't allowed to watch everything that might even have been on television. My first cartoon series were Wickie, Biene Maja, Sindbad, Pinocchio and Heidi. I enthusiastically drew the figures and filled many papers with them. When I was at school, I even made the characters from Captain Future for my classmates with front and back and sold it for little money.
As a boy, I always had a pad and a pen with me and somehow drew everything that came before my eyes or just scribbled. It won't come as a surprise if I now tell you that my childhood dream was to make animated films, picture books and comics for a living. As with many young artists, however, there were soon voices that wanted to dissuade you from this desire and suggested that you take up a "safe" profession and not pursue unprofitable art. And so for a long time I was shaped by the fact that my art was inferior and not equal to other professions and skills.
Over the years I've always done more or less with my art, there were times when I drew almost nothing at all, then again more. But it was always difficult to see my art as valuable. After graduating from high school, I was always employed in various jobs and activities over the years. As a web designer, there was an opportunity here and there to include a drawing or an animation. Even though I was able to be creative as a designer and that was the closest I had to what I wanted as a child, it was never really what my heart was beating and burning for. And then there were the occupations and years in which I pursued activities that were very far from my desire and ideal.
I don't know why that's really the reason, but I also experience quite often that something keeps me from really drawing and being artistically active. Somehow this thing is still breathing down my neck, that art is not fully-fledged. On top of that there is the fear of the threatening blank sheet of paper, fear of failure and the comparison with artists who seem to be worlds better and never to be reached...
Over the years I have repeatedly dealt with the question of the justification of art. I had thought about whether it wouldn't be better to be a good craftsman, then I could at least lend a hand. And even in bad times you would then have an income, because then people would certainly not have any money left for art...
It's only in the last few years that I've realized more and more how important art is, that it's even a necessity. Art and Beauty is not just a gimmick, an addon that you could do without if necessary. No, art is an important and vital part of life. Art gives our soul something that makes it strong, more resilient, that even helps us find our way around better.
A simple example is beautifully and clearly designed traffic routing or menus. If they are beautiful and well thought out, you will reach your goal faster and easier than if someone quickly threw together a few texts who have no idea about art, design and graphics.
Our brains can more easily process things related to images, emotions, and memories. We often infer the quality of a product or thing from its visual appearance. That is often true, but then there is often a lot more work and creative energy, which then costs accordingly. Very nicely presented in a lecture I blogged about years ago:
Design, the most beautiful language in the world (German).
How much we are touched by a visually stunning cinema film, intoxicating music and beautiful paintings. Many people can also absorb and understand facts better if they can see them or have them presented in a conclusive way with graphs. It is not for nothing that there are more and more explanatory videos.
There is a story about Rainer Maria Rilke's first stay in Paris. Every day he walked with a French woman across a square where a beggar was sitting. He never gave her anything, but the woman often gave alms.
When asked why he never gave anything, he replied: "We must give to her heart, not her hand!". He then gave the beggar a white rose, after which she was not seen for a week.
When the needy woman suddenly came back, the companion asked Rilke how she had lived the whole week. Rilke only: "From the rose!" (in more detail here)
One of my favorite picture books from my childhood is "Frederick" by Leo Lionni. Today I understand much more why this is so. I want to quickly retell the story for those who do not yet know this wonderful book. Frederick belongs to a family of chatty field mice. Everyone begins to diligently collect supplies for the winter: straw, seeds, grains and nuts. Everyone is very eager and toiling away, only Frederick seems to be sitting lazily on a rock, sleeping and sunbathing. When they reproachfully ask him what he is doing, he replies: "I am collecting sunbeams, colors and words for the winter!"
Luckily they leave him alone. Then, when winter comes, they hole up in their wall and live off the supplies. But the winter is long and supplies are slowly running out. Then they remember Frederick's words and now ask him to pass on what he has collected all summer. Frederick tells them to close their eyes and make themselves comfortable. Powerfully eloquent and artful, he paints the sun's rays and the colors of summer before their eyes and closes with a wonderful poem about the seasons. The mice's hearts are warming, they are reviving and celebrating Frederick as a poet!
As a child, I found the story simply beautiful and touching. But somehow I always identified with Frederick. Now I understand why. This story is a passionate plea for the necessity of art and that it is equal to all other professions. As in this story, art is needed especially in hard times and is downright vital.
I can't describe it exactly, but lately I've somehow experienced that my art has changed unnoticed. It is suddenly more expressive. When I was still drawing the picture "Breakthrough" a woman asked me about the picture. It was just a sharing time and opportunity for prayer anyway. Suddenly this woman started crying and wouldn't stop. I thought at first that this referred to our topic of conversation. But it turns out it was my picture and something deep inside her that spoke to her. Of course, that also touched me a lot.
A friend of mine recently told me that one of my postcards literally saved his life. I remembered very well that years ago I had prayed for him at Freakstock. We knelt in the dust in front of the main stage at a church service. After my prayer I took out one of my postcards and gave it to him. It was obvious that the card "Deepest heart“ had touched him strongly. But now he told me recently that he was going through a major depression at that time and was struggling with suicidal thoughts. And that card had saved his life!
Art can do something that no prayer, no pastoral care and maybe not even a prophetic word can do!
At Holy Spirit Night, Paul Manwaring spoke about the fatherly love of God and the reaction and motives of the two sons. Something unusual maybe. But I was deeply touched by the interpretation that perhaps the father let the younger son go because he wanted to set him free and make his dreams come true. Somehow that did something to me. Because I've actually always longed for my art to be accepted and released in some way and for me to be confirmed in it, to go my way with it, to make a living from it (I don't want to say that this wouldn't have happened, too. My Parents have done a lot to ensure that I was encouraged and trained in my talent). Emotionally, however, something was missing that would have made me feel validated, that my art was equivalent to another profession and had the same justification.
As I write these lines, I am very touched myself and recognize the need to give myself to the world with my art. I have something to give that the world needs, encourages, sets free and just makes life beautiful. Too bad to run on the side, just as a hobby. I want to put even more emphasis on how I can spend more time finding ways to make a living from my art as well, so that I can devote myself fully to letting the world see more of my art.
A few years ago, God spoke to me more and more that it was time to realize my childhood dreams. It was said that it would be bumpy in the beginning and that it would be financially challenging. But if I would go further, the breakthrough would come and I would be able to make a good living from it.
It was really extreme when I was still working as a letter deliverer at Deutsche Post. God had spoken there many times about me being there until He would tell me to do something new. If it had been up to me, I wouldn't have stayed there long. So it was very challenging that I worked there for more than 3 years. You can imagine that the following prophetic word hit me like a bomb.
Auf einem prophetischen Seminar gab es eine Übung, wo wir zu zweit gegenseitig von Gott füreinander hören sollten. Die Fragestellung war: “A goal that can be reached in a short term“. Die Frau, die mit mir betete, kannte ich gar nicht und hatte sie auch noch nie vorher auf einem entsprechenden Seminar gesehen, wie das ja sonst so oft der Fall ist. Sie war sich auch total unsicher. Sie hat ein Bild von einer Briefmarke vor Augen und das Wort dazu: „The time of stamps is over. New things in your gifts!“ Das war für mich die Freiheit weiter zu ziehen und nun bin ich dabei heraus zu finden, was das denn konkret heißt: “New things in your gifts…”