When I talk to other creative friends, they often recount stories of learning their craft from a parent, grandparent or other family member from a young age.
Just like learning the guitar or dancing are skills people take with them and often return to throughout their lives, I strongly believe that the seeds we sow and tend to at a young age set the scene for the future.
When giving gifts to young members of my family and to friends’ kids, I’m pedantic about giving presents that foster creativity and ignite imagination. I go out of my way to give gifts that don’t say “you must do this” but encourage both lateral thinking and creativity.
My Mum instilled this creativity in me from the very start. She was always very crafty herself, into counted cross-stitch, making our clothes and creating things. When she was a little older than I am now she used to create gorgeous 3D nameplates for kids using tiles, ribbon etc. She sold them through my pre-school, at local markets and a local craft store and they were very popular. I still have her sample book to this day. We had many, many cake and craft stalls at my little primary school where both the kids and their mums made pretty little things like needlebooks etc to raise money for our school.
One of my prized possessions growing up was my craft box. We each had one, but I think mine got used the most. Nothing fancy, just an old Carnavon bananas box covered in Contact. Mum filled it with magazine clippings, ribbons, pipecleaners, buttons, scrapbooks and all manner of bits and pieces. I’d get special things added to it at birthdays and Christmas and when my grandparents would visit (often with a new “you will need” craft book courtesy of Grandad!). Any tools included in craft kits given as presents were added to the craft box when the project was over. To this day I still have a craft box although it’s spread to a sewing box, bead box, art supplies box, photography box…..
When other kids were dancing and riding horses and learning footy, Mum first organised a man from our church (Derek) to give me my first art lessons, followed by classes at the PCYC then through private art tutors. To this day I still contend that I’m crap at drawing and painting (no reflection on the tutors) but I stuck with art all through high school and managed to get straight A’s.
Starting to see a pattern yet? It’s like riding a bike. You might not always be good at it, it might seem a little awkward at times, but it’s always with you.
When I was about 7 there were some independently published magazines available for kids and my Dad set me up with subscriptions. I’ve got no idea how he found them, I can’t recall anyone else at my school reading them but they were great. Each one of them featured art and stories written by kids for kids and offered prizes and competitions for contributing. Jetsetter was one with great stories, I still have some of them clipped out somewhere. They encouraged making friends and I had a few penpals around Australia, much like I do now. Gemma Styles from Ipswich, I still remember you!
Inspired by both of these magazines and the fact that my parent’s small business meant I had access to a computer, photocopier and clipart, I started my own school magazine and club when I was aged 11. I set up a drop box in my classroom to collect pictures, wordsearches etc and I appointed officers to help me out. It was great fun to do and everyone really enjoyed it. The club was called the Kreative Kids Klub. To this day I have absolutely no idea why at a Christian primary school nobody pulled me or my parents aside and said we should change the name to a better acronym…
So that’s the story of my creative journey. What’s yours? What are you doing to foster the seeds of creativity in your own family? I’d love to hear!
To finish, I give you one of my Mum’s favourite pieces of my artwork, in this case a comic about our greedy guts Cat Haven adoptee Gadget. Enjoy!