Sharing Joy in Art

  • by El Hadj Dieng

Sharing Joy Through Art

 I remember being in fifth grade, during lunchtime my friends and I would push our desks together and start drawing Dragon Ball Z characters. Of course, at the time, to be able to draw huge muscles and pointy, super saiyan hair were the goals of each one of us. I had always loved watching animated shows and trying to draw my favorite characters. It was from shows like Dragon Ball Z, Danny Phantom, Teen Titans, Gargoyles, Naruto, Avatar: The Last Airbender and many more that I became inspired not only to watch stories like this, but to create my own. As I grew older, I started writing fiction and drawing while continuing to gain inspiration from animated shows.

By the time I went to college, my hope in pursuing a career in an art-related field began to fade. I started to mentally cave to the voices in our society that say “You can’t make a living in art.” and “Even if you tried you don’t have the skill to make it in the animation industry.” I decided to study my other passions, Education and English Literature. If I could not work to create these stories full-time, I wanted to at least help students find inspiration from them and be able to create their own. Even though I was not pursuing an art degree, I constantly found myself returning to art. I started drawing comics for my university’s newspaper.

Wherever possible, I would make allusions and connections to animated shows and stories in my Education and English papers. Art was not only a passion, but also a cause I would never give up on. To many people, cartoons, animated shows, and movies seem childish. But the more I worked with elementary and high school students, the more I saw how integral these stories were to their identities and their ways of making meaning in the world. Stories and narratives shape us, and every child deserves meaningful and inspirational stories to fuel their imagination and their lives. 

It was near the end of my time in college that I decided to take my art journey to the next level. Drawing has always been a personal experience for me and those closest to me. Growing up, I would stay up late drawing funny cartoons for my older siblings to find on the table the next morning before they left for work. However, I wanted to push myself past my comfort zone. I wanted to share my art with others, with the hope that people could find some laughter and joy from it. That is when I decided to start my art Instagram page, @joyful_inking. 

Creating the page forced me to think about what I wanted my message to be. Looking back at my favorite shows and movies, as well as the reason I desired to pursue Education, I found a link: human connection and sharing joy with others. This is what I wanted my goal to be with every piece I created and posted. 

I wanted each drawing to be a piece of me, out there for others to find connection with and say, “Hey! I enjoy that!” or “Wow, I’m so glad someone else loves that show as much as I do!” We are all looking for connection and solidarity. It helps us remember we are not alone in our struggles. My hope in creating is to let others know, “You are not alone.”

Over the years, I started experimenting with different mediums. Paints, ink pens, watercolors, and eventually digital. My home will always be in pen, pencil, and paper, but to refine my art I also want to expand my knowledge and technique across other mediums. Becoming a better artist is a life-long journey. Every day is about practicing and noticing new techniques and directions to improve upon. But for me, refining my art is about more than my technique. It is about finding my purpose for creating and sharing my art. It is what changes a drawing of Winnie the Pooh delivering a tray of food into a piece of art thanking the people who work in the food industry during a pandemic. It is what transforms a pencil drawing of Luke Skywalker into an Instagram post giving thanks to Mark Hamill for inspiring me to be a better person. We each have our “art,” something we are passionate about. We also each have our “why” behind the art. These are life-long journeys, and they both reflect who we have been, who we are, and who we will be. That in itself is our tapestry of humanity. That is why I will never stop creating. 

Andrew Craig

A Man of many mediums. and a goal to inspire the masses.


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