October 11, 2014
by Alan Vitek

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For a long time I’ve felt completely un-creative. In fact, it feels like it’s been a few years since the last time I could even identify with being artistic. College was such a wonderful time for my personal growth and development, and the years following were just as fulfilling as a freelance designer. I was learning my craft, experimenting with different mediums, and publishing my work for the world to see. But then, it went away.

And the weird thing is, nothing really changed except my own perception of how creative I felt. I think I had burned myself out. In retrospect, these past two years have been a time of healing and recovery, if you will. My wife and I finally got settled in – we put down our roots and brought a wonderful little girl into the world. I took time to focus on being a good father and a loving husband. And in the midst of all these amazing things, it came back to me.

Not too long ago, I had just turned off the light and was scrunching down into my pillow. The room was quiet, my blanket was warm, and the air was cool. As I waited for sleep to take over, an image snapped into my head. It was a scene I had never thought of before. I saw a beautiful floating island… almost cartoonish, but in that soft, subtle and intentional Nintendo style that I love. The middle away had been cut away (like a dissection), and inside I could see the inner workings of tunnels and houses built into the lush landscape. Fireplaces were burning… lights were on. Fish quietly swam in an underground cavern that became a waterfall as it drained out of the bottom of the floating island. It was gorgeous. I dreamed of a young hero exploring this area. It was nostalgic. I woke up smiling. I felt creative again.

I can remember back in highschool, when I was still in my artistic infancy, I would wait until a composition would magically appear in my mind’s eye before I would ever touch a piece of paper or canvas. Shortly after starting college, this magical process slowed, and my experiences with it began to dwindle. My senior show was a stretch – to be honest with myself, it wasn’t so much inspired as it was forced.

Since that first night, this experience has continued to happen. Every few nights I began to dream of new ideas and concepts. It’s wonderful, and I am so thankful for it. I’m scared that it will stop just as quickly as it has started, but I’m grateful for each idea that has come to me. I find myself even being able to solve problems, or reiterate on old ideas with fresh approaches.

During my formative years, a lot of my time was spent alone and I enjoyed it. These past two years I’ve blamed a lack of isolation for my creative deprivation. Buying a home and having a baby can seriously cut down on alone time, if not eliminate it all together. And while that blame may be partially true, this phenomenon is still happening to me even though my environment hasn’t changed very much.

So what happened? I think I burned myself out. The mind is like a muscle, and for years I was working it to the max. 12+ hour work days were the norm back then and even though I loved it, I over-exhausted myself. But just like with regular exercise, this break gave me time to heal, and in the end, I feel like my brain is stronger than it was before.

I can’t wait to share some of these ideas with the world. Most of them are probably pretty bad, but I’m going to incubate them anyway and see how they grow.

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