I was recently told that my curiosity, most definitely, is waning. I attended the RGD (Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario) Creative Business Summit 2010 and the first speaker gave a talk on curiosity. It was Bob Hambly from the Design firm Hambly & Woolley whom I have met on several occassions many years ago. He began by telling us that curiosity "is the fuel that drives designers creativity." In childhood we have the most amount oif curiosity because, of course, everything is new. As we proceed through our lives our curiosity shrinks. This "shrinkage" is due to several factors, the top 2 being fear of looking stupid and fear of feeling stupid.

At the end of his speech, that had flow charts and colourful graphs demonstrating the speed of our shrivelling interest in the unknown, he gave us a few pointers on how to encourage our inquisitiveness. At the top of his 5 points was to always carry a sketchbook and a digital camera to document and record our thoughts, questions and interesting things that we find in our everyday travels.

Since that comment I have been thinking non-stop about sketchbooks, curiosity and me. I have been fretting. Could he be right? Is my curiosity deflating at a rate that will leave me idealess in the very near future?

The other night I rummaged through my studio shelves and lined up all my old sketch books.




The first few books are from high school, when I was just doodling and having fun. Drawing tattoos for friends, murals for Earth Day, and painting really deep images inspired by the music I listened to: The Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Pixies, The Sugarcubes...


Then I came across my Art College days. I got a blank sketch book every Christmas from my parents. In one my dad had inscribed a message for me. Only my parents would dedicate a blank sketch book to their daughter.


In these books there were observational visual studies interspersed with random lecture notes and inspiring words and found images taped in.

Then came the trips to the Royal Winter Fair. Some years I would go by myself other years mom would come too. We would sit quietly and sketch the animals until screeching children would run over and startle the poor creatures. I'd always stop in at the petting zoo and say hi to the aging camel. He was lovely and proud and his lips were soft and wonderful to pet.



After I graduated from college I developed a love for sketching at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). It's still one of my favourite and most relaxing things to do. The last few years I even bought myself a membership to be able to go whenever I wanted, even if I only had an hour. Time slides past, breathing slows down, you hardly notice the people walking by. My last boyfriend shared this joy. Since we broke up I haven't been back. These images remind me of how important this activity is to me and I think I will go again, very soon.

The book that I carry with me now is much smaller. It easily fits in my everyday bag. It is a beautiful, hand-bound leather book with handmade paper pages that have delicate flower petals woven into the fibres. It was given to me by my mother, whom I'm sure envisioned it filled with gorgeous sketches and poetry. Instead each page is a list. A list of things that need to get done that week. Each item is preceded by a tiny box to be checked when the task has been completed. Sometimes there is a grocery list or a list of items in the house that need to be repaired. But the best list of all is the creative projects list. This is a list of all my ideas that I have for art projects. Even these items have check boxes for when they are done.

I despaired for a few days after making this discovery. This book of list is proof of how my life has changed, my shift into adulthood and the death of my curiosity. I fell into a few bleak days of gloominess.

I sat sewing my sock monkeys and a little dark cloud would hover over my head. I would stare at my computer and wonder what my next blog entry should be but instead of write I would breath a sigh of hopelessness. I would start to plan for my upcoming craft shows but instead I would turn to worrying about my now wizened curiosity which was now nothing more than a dry husk, an empty shell.

The thing is, I don't carry sketch books because I walk to work. I have to carry my lunch, student projects, a book to read, my snacks, it's too much. I make lists to remind me of my ideas because I don't have time to do elaborate diagrams and drawings on the spot.

I am still creative, just in a different way. I am still curious but curious with a purpose, with a goal. Mostly I don't care if I look or feel stupid because I've gotten used to it. The nature and motive for my curiosity has simply changed. As I get older I have more responsibilities. I need to be organized and I need to manage my time wisely but I'm still curious. My curiosity is not as reckless as it used to be, and I'm OK with that.