a story and thank you

I grew up in a very small, farming, conservative, and predominately christian community. I don’t have any issues with these traits, I’m simply painting a picture. The path was laid out for everyone who lived there. You’re a farming family, so you’ll either take over the farm outta high school or grab a degree in agriculture. Your mother’s a teacher, well you’re going that route too right? Well, actually maybe nursing is your cup of tea? Neither of those? Well, the only option left is to become an engineer. You know, as an engineer you can do whatever you want.

If you came back to my hometown, no one would say that all of us were pushed down the same path. We weren’t forced to go down one specific path or the other. However, if you ask the majority of my classmates, none of us would go to college right out of high school and some of us not at all if we’d have another chance. The truth is, growing up in such a small community we were exposed to very little. We convinced ourselves, with our adult mentors’ help, that we wanted to go to college and get that engineering degree. While in reality we all wanted very different things, but didn’t have the confidence or knowledge to back up those desires.

For myself, I have always known that I wanted to make art for a living. The picture of the stereotypical “starving artist” was something I desired to encompass. However, when looking into art “careers” none of them made sense to me and I didn’t “really” know what any of them meant. I had never been encouraged as an artist growing up, so when it came time to choose a life path my thoughts were, “well, that’s not realistic. I can’t make a living creating art. It will just be my hobby.” So, with everyone pushing me to be a practical, engineer and no one saying, “Devan, don’t you enjoy making things?” I chose to pursue a degree in engineering.

My desire to be an artist quickly resurfaced while being away at school. So, I started looking into alternative majors to switch into. I scanned the list of majors over and over again. My mind filtering out most of the creative options with, “Well, you can’t make a living with that or you’re not good enough for that or that’s simply not a logical choice in today’s world.” So, for a second time, I chose a degree that seemed to be a closer fit to my creative desires. I chose to switch into Apparel Design. I thought I’d cracked the system. I can be creative while still making something that everyone will always need. It was another practical choice, a safe choice.

I graduated with this degree and as you’ve learned from my other post, I quit the first job I had in the field. Now, I sit here. I showcased my art prints at the Peoria Riverfront Farmer’s Market yesterday morning. It was the first time I’ve ever proudly presented my art without any shying away in fear. Person after person caught sight of my art and it drew their eye over to my booth. Some people wandered over and offered some really nice words. Others just did a double take or hesitated for a quick second before moving on. You can’t even begin to imagine how much each of those very little actions impacted me. I have never been encouraged or recognized for my art, so each turn of the head and flicker of the eye made the dreadfully hot morning very worth it.

I get more confident in my abilities everyday and I you will be seeing much more from me. I will consider myself an Artist from this day forward.

Thank you.

Devan Bridson