What Do I Do? --A Poem

Proud to be a creator


I am proud to be an artist, but I still sometimes cringe when I’m asked what my profession is. I have made money through the sale of paintings and illustrations or designing a logo, but it isn’t always how I get the bills paid. Despite another “day” job, I am by nature a creator, and that is how I describe myself when asked. I still endure the occasional smirk or condescending remark that typically comes from those who don’t see writing or art as real work—they believe it to be an indulgence of little consequence and certainly not something to be paid for. I am at peace with the choices I have made, but I’m also alert to the opinions of others who believe I should have become something different or, perhaps, something more.


An artist at work

I try to see the world in different ways
I try to see the world in different ways
I dream
I dream
I am the storm
I am the storm

What do you do for a living?



What do I do?


I dream. I wonder what is beyond my reach and try to touch it.

I stretch canvas and staple it to wood.

I endeavor to create a space of light and shape and color, all in a way no one has ever before envisioned it.


I attempt to create beauty where it otherwise did not exist.

I mix paint, move it around, scrape it, and sometimes remove it. I give the paint texture, shape and the illusion of light and shadow.

I seek images in the swirl of colors and integrate them into my visions to form new patterns.


I capture a moment in time and transform it into a new reality.

I paint in the night when I should be resting, returning the next morning to continue my work.

I walk through doors open only to me.


I paint a landscape with a crash of waves upon a rocky shore, and my heart crashes with the waves.

I strain to unleash both images and emotions in a style I can call my own.

I depict the majesty of a spring storm. I am the storm.


Really? Any money in that?


A Note from the Author


It has been several years since I hastily penned this poem, which was as much as anything a tribute to the creative process. My words contained a hint of frustration, I confess. I was frustrated with the misconceptions many people carry about art and artists. The idea some people carry that what we do is easy or without true importance burdened me. The notion that my creative efforts could be the target of ridicule and derision angered me, particularly since my work was previously mocked in the name of "humor". The idea that nothing matters unless there is a clearly defined monetary value assigned to it troubled me.

It is several years later, and I continue to create. I remain hard at work, offering the beauty of writing and drawing as part of what I refer to as an "upward trend in the universe". I am committed to the goal of creating in the face of pain or adversity, but more than that--I am resolved to speak out about the financial struggles of creators everywhere and perhaps someday supply answers. I am steadfast in the belief that art makes a difference in people's lives. It isn't about money, although creators should be compensated for the monumental work they undertake to share their vision of the world. It's about affecting people. It's about making a difference. The difference might seem small and perhaps inconsequential, but it is not. A well crafted painting or a suspenseful novel is important. It has value and meaning.

Many people will continue to see writers, artists or musicians as insignificant in the scheme of things. A landscape painting is not work in the same manner as teaching children or building roads--at least in the minds of some. It is the same, though--it is as real and valuable and noble as any profession. Creativity is just as worthy of your support and understanding as any field of endeavor. It is a noble mission and a solemn duty. It is a significant part of the upward trend.

Thank you for reading.


Comments 54 comments

Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

From reading the poem, its clear you are an Artist from the core of your heart. Loved this line "I capture a moment in time and transform it into a new reality."

People will always talk - we can't please everyone. You are at peace with what you do and I hope you continue to enjoy it.

Beautiful Poem.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Lady_E, thanks so much for your comments. I am at peace, but it's still not always easy. I do enjoy it. When I'm writing, drawing or painting and something satisfying comes out--that's when it's worth it.

Thanks again for your kind words.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Well-said, my friend, and I wish you well in all your endeavors, whether there's any money in it or not. Success is the eye of the artist, when he/she is satisfied.


Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

Ghost Whisper 77 6 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

You know Mike..I can understand this. My twin boys started drawing at the age of 2 1/2 and they continued...pushing toys away to draw. I read your words, painting when you should be sleeping and I see my boys--and their passion-creating-drawing. I also hear people as my own Mom saying to them "an artist? You will be a starving artist!" (I was so angry that day years ago)And I remember their sadness in their eyes that day.

I told them that this was their 'passion' just as it is yours Mike. And when you work a job that has your 'passion' that is your 'spirit' and where you will flourish and be happiest! I always supported their art-comics-drawings-creations and got them into a college where they got BA's in graphic-game design-and 3d modeling. They love what they do, just as you!!

You should never feel anything but awesome about being a creator-an artist-it is such talent-passion-and the ability to bring your spirit through your brushes-paints-eyes is a beautiful thing! I love looking at your art work by the way! ;)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Paradise7, I appreciate your comments. We do indeed create first and foremost for ourselves. The ability to satisfy our yearnings to make something out of nothing is what keeps us coming back--it's what makes the painting after this one get painted--or the poem or song. If we can make ourselves happy with what we do, we are ahead of the game.

But, it ain't always easy...

Thanks for your comments.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ghost, thanks so much for what you wrote here. I am grateful for what you revealed about your sons. They are lucky to have a parent that supported their dreams and encouraged them to be what they chose. You made their lives better through your support.

Only within the last few years have I called myself an artist again. For awhile I stopped drawing, and when someone saw my work and asked if I were an artist, I told them "I used to be." The urge to create pulled me back in, and I am happy that I quit yielding to life's pressures and starting creating again.

It pleases me to hear you say you like looking at my drawings. Thank you.

Mike


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State

I really like the poem and the artwork. It was very nicely done (great layout) Thanks for sharing this one. We dont see enough poetry around here :)

hc porter


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

H.C., thanks for your kind words. I have only recently tried to do much with poetry, and your support (and those of others who have commented) means a great deal to me.

I am glad you liked my drawings, also.

Thanks again.

Mike


AEvans profile image

AEvans 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Your artwork is very good and so is the poem! I certainly do not believe that artist or writers are at the bottom of the apple barrel, may do not understand us but my perception is , we are at the top and not many are like us. :)


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

AEvans, Thanks for your comments. I like to think we are not the bottom of the apple barrel, also--what we do as creators is unique and vital. I like to believe we add to the beauty of our world with our words and images.

Thanks for your kind words about my drawings and the poem, it is appreciated.

Mike


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

an artist and You can do lots..plus you can create beauty,isnt that amazing, I always admire artist (because I can never become one, I dont have the talent,, hehe) and your poem is a nice reflection of what you indulge in, beautiful, Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, I appreciate your kind words and I am pleased that you liked my poem. I am always grateful for your support. Thanks again.

Mike


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I like panting and all about art very much. And your poem give a soul of art. thanks


Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 6 years ago from Michigan

Mike, I have looked up to and admired gifted people like you my whole life. I am drawn to the creative soul that can bring beauty out of nothing or tell a story on canvas. Be proud Mike, be very grateful ... for this gift of yours. There are very few on earth who have the type of creativity you have in your heart. Your words also convey your artistic bent ... they are crafted beautifully in your poem. I am honored to know you sir.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

prasetio30, thank you for your comments. I appreciate your interest.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Mekenzie, thank you for your gracious words. I am indeed grateful for the gifts I have been given, and for the opportunity to speak from my heart about what I do. I am humbled by your kind comments--the honor is all mine.

Mike


rml 6 years ago

Nicely done. Your passion shines through in your work.


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Very cool Mike. The musculature in your figures comes across looking like someone who has paid their dues in rendering hours. I agree with you about the naysayers, let them eat bland dinners and buy prints at Walmart and their decor will match their mundane outlook.


seasoning 6 years ago

i am sure i am an artist that has actually not really learned to paint properly. Not good on drawing front either, more creative...... loved this hub it is so brilliant, in lots of ways...... you are blessed to have the gift of art..... i look forward to reading many more of your wonderful hubs


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

rml, I appreciate your reading. Thank you.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hey Ben, thanks for stopping by. I hear you talking with the naysayers. A week or so ago, a guy about half my age asked what I did for a living. I told him I was an artist, and he asked with a smirk on his face if there was any money in that--as if I must surely be broke if I were an artist. It bugged me that this was the limit of his understanding of why an artist creates--even though I should be beyond that by now. A short time later, the words came out of me and ended up here.

So it goes, I guess....

Well, thanks for commenting, Ben. Hope you had a good weekend.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

seasoning, thanks for your comments. We are all creative in our own way, and it is fun to see how it springs forth from each of us.

I am greatly appreciative of your comments. Thank you very much.

Mike


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

I can think of a dozen or so artists that I have gotten to know well over the years. Some of them Professors with State paychecks, some of them craftsmen who paid the bills with bartending or moving jobs. Just a few of them who exclusively made art for a living. When I was younger I think I made my judgments about all of their varying worth, but now in the face of the contrast of non-artists endeavors, I realize the power and courage of all creatives regardless of how we pay for our groceries. It feels good to let go of severe judgment! It still comes back to haunt me sometimes, like you said with the young guy you just spoke with, but rest assured, you have fellow artists who believe in what you are all about Mike! Enjoy the sun today amigo!


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

The poem is very beautiful, but the paintings are even better. In my opinion the best movie on writing is "Shadowland", with Anthony Hopkins. During the movie he says that "we read to know that we are not alone". Without writers, especially good as you are, how can we read?


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ben, I appreciate the support. It does take a certain odd type of courage to try to do and be what we want, and I think sometimes the very young and the very old don't understand this. The young compare you to their ideals, which (in the case of this fellow I spoke with) means tons of cash. Folks from (for example) my parents' era see a job as a tool to provide for life's necessities--the idea of following a passion wasn't necessarily even in the equation. My parents were in that category--you went to your job, day in and day out, because that's what you do.

I certainly don't say this as a criticism of their life or beliefs--their work ethic was remarkable, and they met the challenge of providing for their family day in and day out, without fail. I mention it only because I believe there are many people who don't even consider the notion of following a dream or a passion--it isn't part of the equation. Or, in the case of the guy I mentioned, following the dream might simply mean as many dollars in the bank account as possible. That IS the dream.

Well, despite the forecast of snow, I will take your advice and enjoy some sun--while it's there.

Thanks for commenting, my friend!

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

hypnodude, I so much appreciate your comments, and I thank you for complimenting both the writing and the drawings--it is appreciated. You are correct, creativity is indeed a tool to connect, to share--to realize we are not alone.

Your words are most gracious. Thank you.

Mike


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

An artist / creator you are Mike, by every sense of the word. Your writing and artwork speaks for itself. Filled with emotion, each one holding a part of you that is only known to you. The beauty of being a creator, lies in each new creation. For no two will ever be the same.

Art that can clearly reflect upon a world of experiences and feelings to your audience, encompassing different meaning in the hearts of each and everyone of us.

They say to follow your dreams and the money will follow. I gotta believe that this is true. I can identify with the creativity coming alive in the early AM hours when the rest of the world is asleep.

Beautiful as always,

Sage


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Sage, thank you very much. I am an emotional person and it shows in my writing and my art. It also shows in my voice and my facial expressions--I just can't hide what's inside!

Your comments are appreciated and, in fact, very beautiful and eloquent in their own right. I appreciative of your insights.

Thanks again.

Mike


Moulik Mistry profile image

Moulik Mistry 6 years ago from Burdwan, West Bengal, India

It is so soulful, so deeply felt - lovely sentiments in true poetical words...


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Thank you sir for creating. You can hardly aspire to be better than being a creator! Thanks


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Moulik, I appreciate you thoughtful comments. You have the heart of a poet, as well.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Micky Dee, thanks for your kind and gracious words. Deep down, I am what I wish to be. Thanks for reading.


Zac828 profile image

Zac828 6 years ago from England

This is all so true, the looks you get from suited people when they imagine you're just sitting there dreaming all day; sometimes I am, but I also need to earn money the same as everyone.

I think artists have always attracted some kind of jealousy and that gives people the power to sneer at it, not really knowing what they are doing.

Keep going, love reading your work on here and love the illustrations too.

Thanks for being so honest.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Zac, thanks for your comments. You are probably correct--the comments of smug people might be a subconscious reponse and not necessarily a deliberate attack. It is something i hadn't considered if that is what you meant.

Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it.


MordechaiZoltan profile image

MordechaiZoltan 6 years ago

Thank you for the poem. Very inspirational. I used to be a travelling salesman. Now.....?


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

MordechaiZoltan, thanks for reading. You used to be a traveling salesman. Now, I hope you are whatever you would be thrilled to be.

Thanks again.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Wonderful! I love the contrast of black against white. I work in pen and ink for that very reason!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Habee, thanks for visiting my page. I greatly appreciate your comments and perspective.

Thanks again!


rml 6 years ago

I read this again and noticed the middle line of each "verse" was an ordinary activity, such as stretching a canvas or smearing paint, while the first and third line was something philosophical. If that was intended, that was a nice touch.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

rml, thanks for noticing. That was exactly what I intended.

I appreciate your comments.


Just A Voice 6 years ago

Art, in any form, is a heartfelt passion with heartless critisims invariable attached.

People will always want to critique someone else's offering, and I don't know why that is considered necessary or even appropriate. This is your heart and soul out for the world to see, and I say screw all those naysayers. It seems that most of these people with "so called critiques" are only expert at criticizing others.

No need to cringe...I think you're good...and more importantly, it sounds like the thing you really want & like to do. I am glad you have peace with that. Focus on that.

Besides...I benefit when you do.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Just A Voice, thank you for your comments. They are much appreciated and I am grateful for your encouragement. You are correct, a creator is exposed to the world and is susceptible to daggers thrown his or her way. It shouldn't hurt, but sometimes it does.

Thanks again, I am extremely grateful for your support.

Mike


lyricsingray 6 years ago

What an incredible thing to do for a living; to dream. wow bravo Mike

Your talent shines in your creativity and passion. I am so glad I read this

oh and Mike, I dream for a living, true. Best thing I do.Thank you Mike

xo

Kimberly


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Thank you, Kim. I'm honored to have you visit my page and read my words. Your comments mean a lot to me and I'm grateful.

Mike


RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

So lovely. Thank you.

Forever His,


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

RevLady, thank you. I appreciate your comments so very much.

Mike


ralwus 6 years ago

Love the drawings Mike, the pome as well. It says a lot about you and writing can be art too. I like to paint only nudes now, no, not men.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Ralwus, thanks for reading. Writing can indeed be art. I still do some figure drawing as well, but don't want anything to be seen in the wrong fashion, so I tend to post my more mainstream stuff here....

Thanks again for stopping by, I'm always appreciative.

Mike


noorin profile image

noorin 6 years ago from Canada

Mike, I enjoyed every word, the flow of the introduction itself is poetic....

I attempt to create beauty where it otherwise did not exist. =) Very beautiful...

In attempts of pleasing everyone, we end up being nothing to no one ... Follow the other road so long u like it and u shall shine. =)

By the way, the drawings are amazing. I luv the amount of details put into "I am the storm".

Once again great hub.

Noorin


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Noorin, thank you for your kind words, both regarding my poem and the art that accompanied it. Your comments are very gracious and they are much appreciated. I draw and write because I am passionate about it. It has hardly made me rich, but it has always been rewarding. Thanks again.

Mike


noorin profile image

noorin 6 years ago from Canada

You are very welcome again =) All the best.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

All the best to you as well, Noorin. Have a great day.

Mike


Midtown Girl profile image

Midtown Girl 6 years ago from Right where I want to be!

I have a similar situation when asked what I do. As in any art form, it's a challenge to be taken seriously. Your description of what you do sounds respectable to me.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Midtown Girl, thanks for stopping by. It is indeed tough for any creative endeavor to be taken seriously, and that is a shame. Sometimes it seems that if we are good at something, it is assumed we find it easy and it categorically becomes "play" instead of work. We carry on, regardless.... Thanks again for reading.

Mike

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