My Creative Journey
Storyteller: Joshua Coleman
I've never been much of a talker. Expressing myself verbally has never been something I could do well. Never really had interest in doing it either. Hell, typing these words is a struggle. My reluctance to speak has gotten me in trouble at school (teachers thought that I was being rebellious or subversive even); it’s created rifts in a few relationships too.
As far back as my memory takes me, I've always had an affinity for drawing and an imagination that wouldn't let up. We all visualize things in our fantasies, right? I found that it was much easier to express myself that way. I'd do it any chance I got. Be it in class on the margins of my classwork (lost points on assignments due to that), in church on what was left of my parents' notepad (my habit even coerced them into bringing extra paper), or on a napkin in the backseat of the car. That little habit quickly developed into a penchant for comics and animation. I remember picking up my first comic. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I think it was...or maybe it was Sonic The Hedgehog? Who knows? What's important here is that I knew I had met first love-- the art of visual storytelling. I was a very bashful child and I avoided attention as if it were the plague. With this, I’d found a way to communicate without speaking.
I've always believed there to be two sides to myself...on the one hand, there was this very logical science-y side and on the other there was a creative, artsy side. Early on, I also took up interest in science and technology. My mother worked as a programmer for a large company, CSC. She would take my brother and I to work with her sometimes and I’d sit at her desk playing around on the keyboard pretending to code. If anybody were to ask I'd tell them my second passion, next to art of course, was technology. While many of the other boys my age were aspiring NFL players, NBA players, or rappers, I had dreams of becoming a scientist, doctor, or an engineer. Having a career in the arts, at that point, was something that never crossed my mind.
As I grew older, I began taking art more seriously. Somewhere along the line I also picked up programming as a hobby. At this point, my passions were beginning to shift and I knew that art wasn't just something I did in my free time, but that it was what I wanted out of life. My love for comics and animation had reached its peak and I decided that I wanted to become a graphic novelist. Programming was fun, but I was starting to view myself as a more of a creative type. I couldn't fathom having to go to work everyday, sit at a desk, and crank out code for 8 hours. It was a nightmare scenario. As graduation approached and I was applying for college my parents decided sit me down and discuss my career choice. They’d always been supportive of me in most anything I wanted to do, but they just wanted to make sure that I knew what I was getting myself into. I’ve never been a hasty decision maker. I had done plenty of research. I knew drawing comics wasn't the most lucrative business I could get into; but it was something I loved and as long as I could make enough to live comfortably, I didn't care.
My parents’ concerns did convince me to rethink what I was about to get myself into. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to make. I felt as though getting into anything else would mean denying myself as a creative. To dedicate my life to anything in lieu of what I was most passionate about almost seemed like an act of treason against myself.
So, by the time graduation came around I had applied to and been accepted into Catholic University pursuing a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. I was never really completely happy with the decision, but I felt like I had a more “secure” future and mom and dad were happy so…I couldn't go wrong. In the beginning there wasn’t a day I didn't question my decision. I tried my hardest to convince myself that what I was doing was best for me. You cant lie to yourself, I learned. I was scared that I was making a terrible decision and that I would never be truly happy. As many times as I wanted to, I never actually quit. I continued on with computer science.
This story could go on much longer but in the interest of brevity: I took on a couple of jobs and internships as a programmer. I landed an internship summer of 2013 at eBay. My supervisor literally gave me an assignment then left me to my devices. There was next to no instruction. It was then that I finally realized that I wasn't any less a creative individual— I just had to learn to be creative in a different way. I had always viewed computer science, math, and anything in that realm as too formulaic. It wasn't the necessary evil I had made it out to be. I began to love what I did. Be it through coding, drawing, or the clothes that I wear I learned to see everything I do as an expression of myself. At the end of the day, all I ever really wanted to do was create cool shit and have people appreciate it. I learned that there was room for me to be an artist outside the confines of a sketchbook. As cheesy as it may sound, I learned to not see myself as just an illustrator, but as a creative.