This past week a few Asbury students and the opportunity to road trip to Chicago and spend two days interacting with fellow creatives. STORY Chicago is an annual event that focuses on inspiring and connecting designers, directors, writers, etc. It is a two-day conference with 6-7 speakers per day plus up and coming musicians.
This year, author Jonah Lehrer, tattoo artists David Allen, director Josh Boone, photographer Matt Knisely, Imagineer Christopher Chapman, actor Tony Hale, and many others graced attendees with their insight into the creative process and wisdom for living what you love.
Jonah Lehrer spoke on love: love of the craft, love of people, love of creating.
"Love is the opposite of underwear." He explained that underwear is habitual; we hardly notice it. Many things in life are like this. Spectacular views we see often, etc. We lose the marvel and become desensitized. It is the things that we don't lose interest in that we can say we love.
He stated achievement becomes as exciting as underwear. We, as creatives, are not in it for the fleeting moment of wonder when the thing is complete. We love the incline. Not the view at the top. The tedium of working through something, processing, struggling, making mistakes is where we thrive.
"If you love your work, what keeps you interested is the mistakes." He went on to describe that when you choose a partner in life you are choosing a set of problems that will never be resolved. You are choosing ones you are willing to communicate about and fight over. You will never win. Because winning would mean it ends. But you will also never give up.
He quoted Nietzsche: "He who has a why to live can bear any how." The only meaning that lasts is the hard work. A painting in an art gallery doesn't exist for that end product. It exists for every sketch, every layer, every mistake, every sleepless night. That is what makes it worthwhile.
David Allen was a deep soul. He's a graphic designer turned tattoo artist. His work is phenomenal. He loves it because the art isn't about him; it gets up and walks away at the end of each day. His work is determined by each person, their story, etc. He gets to love on them when they come to him nervous, sad, or rejoicing. He said one time a couple came in and they just wanted a tiny + sign. They'd just had a miscarriage. But the happiest moment of their lives was when they found out they were pregnant. They wanted to immortalize that moment for hope. He also does a lot of tattoos for women with breast cancer who've not had reconstruction surgery as they search for beauty. His passion comes from being a part of people's stories, their timelines on their skin, and giving hope in that.
Tony Hale spoke about how you will never have more worth than you do now. Nothing and no one can add or take away from that. He encouraged us to practice contentment in our identity and space now. Otherwise we will never have it when we reach our goals.
The conference was small and deep. Those putting it on were constantly smiling and available to help. And the shortness of it only increased the power of the experience.
I'm grateful for moments like these where the rest of the world can pause for a moment as I drink in the reasons I love to create and am inspired to make room for more moments of making things that affect other peoples' stories.