Many kids today abandon childhood with paint-stained fingertips and a torn box of cracked crayons clutched in their fists, memories sticking of art projects lined on the corkboard, and that one kid who chugged Elmer’s Glue in third grade. It’s not uncommon for kids to be introduced to many types of art in their elementary school days, where they’re allowed to experiment, try new things, and make a million mistakes.
However, so much of that is lost in adulthood, as the inducement to make art as a child often leaves some with the faulty idea that art is, therefore, a childish endeavor with no place in adult life.
In fact, many who pursue art in their free time into adulthood are often told that there’s no point in making art if you can’t make a career out of it – or at least run an Etsy shop on the side. I think we often forget that art is, at its core, fun.
There is a reason we encourage kids to do art growing up, for not only is there a sort of intrinsic joy in creating something with your hands, it also improves a child’s communication skills, boosts their self-esteem, and encourages bonding between kids.
These benefits don’t go away once you hit adulthood, either – it can be tremendously healing (art is even used in therapy sometimes!), stimulate creativity, and even relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression to make art as an adult of any age.
It’s true that the way one spends their free time as an adult becomes important simply because it can be so limited, but it is worth making time for art. And you don’t have to be an artsy, creative type either – everyone has the capacity for artmaking. However, too often, the joy of creation is lost in the expectation of the product. This can be especially true if you are pursuing a form of art as a career.
No matter how old you are, you should always be willing to make art for no reason. And it’s not even technically for “no” reason, either – it’s for your mental health and just to have fun, which are both worthy motivations!
I was struck last year when a fellow student confessed to me that they hadn’t done any sort of crafting since middle school. That broke my heart a little. I can’t imagine navigating the world without some sort of craft to fall back on – papercrafts, sewing, drawing, knitting, writing, photography, anything. Art allows me to connect with myself and express myself.
Oftentimes, art is a way to connect with other people, too. When I spent an afternoon teaching my friends to make origami cranes last summer, it reminded us all that we are not here just to dredge through life, we are here to think and create and cultivate togetherness through things like art, even if it’s just a little paper bird.
I want to extend a challenge to whoever may be reading this: Make art for no reason but fun today.
Make art because you can, and you should.
Make art remembering that you have nothing to prove – the result doesn’t even have to be good.
It just needs to be made.