I came across this video portrait of Milton Glaser by Hillman Curtis on the Drawn! blog and I was struck by something he quoted from Lewis Hyde about gift exchanges in primitive cultures that serve to stop people from killing one another because they create a common link. I have been thinking more and more lately about how what I draw is often a gift I give to people. I don’t mean a “gift” in a trumpet-blowing or “this is a mystical creative gift from the gods” sort of way, because y’all should know that’s not what I’m about! The gifts I give people through drawing and making are the labours of my efforts and time, and also the amount of wrist pain it takes for me to commit something to paper. It’s a kind of gift that stands separate from the value of “good” or “bad”, it’s a gift from me to someone special. You know like when a child draws you something, and you feel so honoured to be receiving it? I feel honoured to be around my loved ones, and I like to give them gifts of my making because I want them to feel like they are in receipt of an object that means something. Of course, I also want them to think of me fondly :)
The gift may be kept for 10 minutes before being thrown in the bin or for a lifetime in a treasure chest, but it can’t be kept forever. It’s just a “thing” and only really as effective as words, in that they don’t last very long either, however I am much more comfortable drawing my feelings than speaking them! The idea is that the intention or the motivation is special, and helps develop better relationships. They don’t last forever either, but for as long as our lives last, we can live peacefully.