I’ve always been a creative-minded person. Saying I’m an artist and writer doesn’t fully cover it. As a child of the 60s, I enjoyed inventing simple board and card games. Grids and icons, mostly. I also designed elaborate greeting cards for family members, each one getting unique images and sentiments. Vintage pop-up greeting cards are still my all-time favorites. Asthma and flat feet kept me from participating in sports as a kid, although I’ve always enjoyed obstacle courses. Designing them seems fun. I needed quiet, inexpensive hobbies that took up little to no space having been the youngest member (9th) of such a large family, living in such a small house. Art and writing were the answer. My two years of community college as a graphic arts major were not a total waste of their time, or mine. The most valuable thing that I learned there was that they were wrong. The old masters got so good at what they did because they had surprisingly little creative freedom. Don’t ever let anyone tell you to find one style of drawing, painting, or writing, then master it. That's BS. You will end up making nothing else. I’d hate to be the poor shmuck who only got to paint the clouds for the master artist. As a first-time mom with no money, I splurged on myself by taking a two-year correspondence course on monthly payments. I enjoyed working on mechanics and creative content with a published author as my personal mentor. She gave me the confidence that I needed to keep writing and submit my work. Explore any and all mediums and styles that interest you, and not just when you’re first starting out. Forever. People were not wired to create art on a production line basis. Sure, it can be tempting to do a safe bet if something you make is well-liked and earns you decent money. So what? I don’t write or draw hoping to get rich or famous. The one comment that makes me cringe every damned time I hear it is, "Wow, you’re talented. You could be an artist." Grrrr! FYI, kiddo, I AM an artist, photographer, sculptor, and seamstress. I'm a writer of slogans, poetry, and short fiction: sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and literary. I'm now working on an illustrated book of New England folklore surrounding an old town in Maine. I’ve even taken up playing the upright bass since recently discovering my love of bluegrass: my first musical instrument ever. Hey, why not? Set creative goals. Big ones. Little ones. Don’t limit them. Surprise yourself. Make stuff for others. Make it for yourself. Hang it on your walls. Hide it in your sock drawers. It’s good to try something new. If money is your main objective, that’s cool. Create-Submit-Repeat. Something will sell. Pay will be low and spent quickly. The real satisfaction is seeing how many Likes you get and in reading the comments about your work. About the photo: "The All-Seeing Mask" was made by my son, Joshua, back in grade school. This ‘bunny man’ mask was made of a flat, heavy gauge wire frame covered in damp burlap over wads of newspaper. The burlap was first soaked in glue or, I suspect, diluted cornstarch to hold its shape. The newspapers were tossed out once it dried. Red paint was used to stain all but the eyes and fringe. I like the unpainted fringe. Lastly, he cut a broad slit for the mouth. He never added a string to wear it. It is one of many early pieces of his that intrigued me; I kept it safely hung on a post in my basement. Years later, I thought to take a picture of it on the cement floor while still in my darkened basement. I backlit it with battery-operated tea lights. The result was creepy as heck. It’s now been elevated to the status it always deserved: published. You just never know.
ANDRÉE GENDRON lives in Massachusetts. Her artwork is showcased online at The Horror Zine, and in print form in the Scifaikuest, ParAbNormal, and Stonecoast Review. To see samples of her work and a full list of publishing credits, visit her website at http://www.andreedianegendron.com.