If we haven’t met yet, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jen and I’m an artist. It’s taken me decades to call myself that, even though I’ve been creating things for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I wasn’t the type of girl who was playing house and dressing Barbie dolls; I was the girl who wanted art supplies for Christmas. If I wasn’t trying to draw or paint, I was learning origami or making friendship bracelets. I also went through a phase of making up cartoon characters and trying to recreate famous ones. Despite all this, I have fought for years against the notion that I’m an artist.
I have a vivid memory of a conversation I had with my aunt when I was about 10 years old. I was in the backseat of her car drawing in one of my sketchpads when she said to me, “maybe you’ll be an art major when you go to college.” I told her no, I didn’t want to do that. Even back then I had it in my head that I wouldn’t enjoy art if I had to do it for a living.
Fast-forward to the year 2000 when I was a college freshman. The internet was becoming more of a thing and I had been teaching myself HTML and creating web pages. I enjoyed the process and decided to become a Computer Information Systems major. I remember my dad telling me it wasn’t a good fit, that I was too creative to choose that major. I didn’t quite understand at the time; I just figured I could creatively do web design.
As it turned out though, my dad was right. The process of more complicated coding was monotonous and confusing. I was failing my assignments and knew I had to make a change. I decided to return to art.
God was convinced of who I could be long before I ever was.
I remember feeling at home in my first art class, even if I was far from the best student and didn’t love the process of having everyone critique my work. There was something about seeing color and shape and form right in front of me that was much more satisfying than programming code on a screen.
I landed on a graphic design concentration, but as a studio art major, I was also exposed to a variety of other art forms. I took a class in silkscreen printing and fell in love with printmaking. I learned the process of pulling ink through a screen and creating a beautiful piece of art in an entirely new way. I loved the way the ink sat on the paper and produced such rich, solid color.
I only took two printmaking classes, and the second was unexpected. I was supposed to take an illustration class as part of my curriculum, but it wasn’t being offered again before I was set to graduate. I could substitute a class, and I chose bookmaking. I loved the class. It combined crafting and my newfound love of printmaking. It was here I learned to experiment with ink on paper in new ways and create unique works of art. As much as I loved silkscreen, I found I may love these unique one-of-a-kind works of art even more. For once I felt like I was free to do what I wanted and not concern myself with the outcome.
More than 15 years later I rediscovered that love and have recently created a few of these works of art. I was reminded of the joy I have simply playing with color and ink and seeing what happens. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this work until I realized I might be able to sell it. I had sold works of art before, and I thought it might be worth trying again.
This brings me to an exciting announcement: I am opening an online shop to sell these original pieces of art! There will only be a few items available initially, but a girl’s got to start somewhere. The shop will open tomorrow, November 20.
My heart is so full thinking about this. Despite my refusal to believe that God created me as an artist, He still saw fit to make it part of my story. I am thankful that no matter how far I tried to run from His call on my life, no matter how much the enemy of my soul tried to convince me I wasn’t an artist, God’s purpose prevailed. He was convinced of who I could be long before I ever was. I have no idea if this endeavor will be successful, but earthly success isn’t the point. Stepping into one of my gifts because I feel God has called me to do so is the point. Any “success” beyond that is up to Him.
I’m thankful that I was wrong about who I thought I should be. I hope you will lean into whoever God has created you to be. I hope you know your talents and gifts were given to you for a reason. I hope you rediscover the things that made you come alive as a kid and find a place for them in your adult life too.