From the earliest age I loved to create, doodling on anything I could get my hands on. I recollect my early sense of wonder as this new world of unending possibility unfolded. Smiles of gentle encouragement from family quickly elevated my self-esteem as a budding, young artist.
My enthusiasm blossomed further upon winning first place in our infant school art competition!
My design was to adorn the front cover of our school sports day programme! Hooray!
I became hailed as the “class artist”, from then on being elected for lead roles in design projects.
My creative personality (my personal reality) took on new life.
I recall standing in our playground -marker pens in hand -before a queue of giggling, mischievous class mates as I rapidly fulfilled requests for hand-drawn tattoos upon their puny arms!... Until the dinner lady sent us running in all directions!
My creative world continued to expand – family birthday presents often coming in the form of paintings commissioned by the young Joe Charman. I seized every creative opportunity.
The countless hours I spent in the multi-hued haven of my inner-world imaginations led to snippets of increased confidence at the admiration expressed by recipients of my early work. I revelled in the glory!
Whilst I did relatively well at school, enjoying a variety of subjects, my artistic, teenage persona naturally favoured the more creative curriculum subjects.
And so my life at secondary school became a period of non-stop creative exploration. An adventure lasting to this day.
During this period of incessant artistic journeying came my interpretation of the then prevailing adult world-view concerning “the future of its youth”. In spite of it's very best intentions to safeguard the young, its over-arching admonition to “get a proper job!” seemed all too dismissive to me. A reproval which threatened to trample upon the colourful world that I foresaw. I'm pleased to say that current ideology continues to open, giving far greater credence to its young “creatives” as we move into perhaps the most creative era so far.
Back then, as a sixth-form student, my heart declared it's creative yearnings through doors seemingly closed to opportunity. I drifted in my confusion. The rained-upon parade of my meandering, childhood imaginations seemed to fade beneath a cloud of inexplicable frustration. A stranger in my own life.
As far as I was concerned, my talents represented perfectly valid alternatives to this elusive “proper job”. But in spite of my “formal education”, I felt “formally uneducated” with the skills necessary for converting my creative dreams into a workable life plan.
But I chose to listen to my internal whispers – perhaps the voice of creativity itself: “If, as an artist, my strength lies in transmuting the formless visions of my imagination into tangible works of art on canvas, could I also use my creative capacities to transform these ideas into a meaningful life plan of my own design?” Could I create for myself a “proper job.” One on my terms. A job that to me meant I would never have to “work” again.
“Pursue the thing you love and gain five days to each week".
My strength has always been my ability to visualise my intended “masterpiece” in advance of knowing how to “connect the dots” of inspiration that lead to its outcome.
Somewhat resolutely, I set to work! I printed and delivered hundreds of leaflets which proudly stated my services – “Portraits, pet portraits, paintings of your house, personalised commissions” etc.
I began “spreading the word”. Through family, friends and so on, commissions began to trickle in.
My self-generated sense of encouragement flourished, and with it came yet more ideas for enlarging my dream. Quite literally, when I somewhat defiantly painted a ceiling-to-floor mural on the bedroom wall of my ex-girlfriend's flat! She loved it! I converted this large work of art into a leaflet design, which excitedly I posted to a host of London's restaurants.
I boldly emblazoned my business details and phone number on my car windows -before the days of internet!! To my absolute astonishment, these endeavours landed me appointments with a string of restaurant owners. And so, armed only with my pocket-sized portfolio, I landed commissions for a series of large-scale murals!
It was about this time that I found my way to Greenwich Arts & Crafts Market, London, where I instantly connected with the happy hive of fellow “creatives”. This soon after became the outlet for my early works, and – as many of you know – was later to become my permanent weekend “place of residence”, selling my large paintings of London from the Artists' Quarter.
The rest, as they say is “history!” Or at least, “my story”.
And so, in closing, my prevailing message is this: Life need not be a process by which we systematically relinquish yet more of the truest aspects of ourselves. Life is not merely a passive response to a script that someone else reads. It is surely about telling our own unique stories. Singing our own special message into the world. I believe we are here to weave together the Great Tapestry which encompasses the story of each of us. A collective masterpiece to be celebrated and enjoyed together. If we wish to live the life that we dream of, there is only one thing to do... “CREATE IT”.