Creative Siblings

When my parents decided to have kids, I think my Dad was hoping we would one day become athletes, doctors or lawyers. He got artists instead. Now for a man that lived and breathed soccer the way he did, I’m sure this was initially a disappointment. As the years ticked by, however, it became very obvious that the giant imaginations and knack for creativity that both my sister Angie and I have, were our true destinies in some way.

Angie (left) and Me (right).

I’m so incredibly fortunate to have a sister that is also creative and artistic. She is without a doubt the person who has had the most significant impact on my creative life and otherwise. Our childhood was filled with elaborate make-believe worlds, fake radio shows and a small theatre troop that consisted of the two of us and one of our childhood friends.

Me drawing on our family vacation to Italy in 1989.

When it came to art, initially I was the one known to always have a pencil and paper in my hand. I would draw everywhere and anywhere including family vacations.It wasn’t until later in our teenage years that she also showed a talent for drawing. We even had a shared space in the basement that we transformed into our art studio.

We have very different personalities when it comes to our style and the type of art we like to create. I remember there was a parrot she was drawing in chalk pastels that she never did finish. This drove me crazy because I was the kind of person that had to have a finished drawing on every sketchbook page, while she was quite comfortable leaving something half done. That parrot is still unfinished and comes up to this day.

Because she’s a couple of years older, I always had insight into the art projects that were being done at school. Since all little sisters in some way want to be just like their big sisters, I, of course, had to try and do those projects as well in my own way. I sometimes think that gave me a bit of an advantage, and it’s something I’ve carried with me to this day. When I see something that is beyond my skill level I still try and do it because it’s what I’ve learned to do. I don’t even question it, I just do it.

My sister is the person who introduced me to a lot of things in the arts. I fell in love with the work of Salvador Dalí because of her, I started listening to alternative and punk music because of her, and more than anything I learned how to keep pushing to be a better artist because of her. I have the benefit of someone who has seen my work evolve from the very beginning, and when I doubt myself the most, knows what I’m capable of achieving. Having that same person be able to give you informed and honest feedback as well can be an even rarer thing to come by.

Later in life, when I moved away from home and was struggling to find my way in the world. My sister was the one that brought me back to my creativity. We started a postcard project with each other as a way to keep ourselves creating art. Inevitably, her pieces were always more elaborate or creative than mine in some way, or as I like to say “broke the rules.”  I realized at one point that breaking the rules was a good thing and I really needed to step up my game. I think I only ever really managed to best her a couple of times, though.

A selection of some of Angie’s “postcard” contributions. Every one of these still has an address somewhere on it. Most of them involved an elaborate riddle that led to something else or a moving part of some sort.

A selection of some of my postcard contributions. I stuck to the 2D format for a while until it just started to look like I wasn’t trying hard enough.

This went on for quite a few years until 2012 when we decided to switch it up with a sketchbook that we passed back and forth. Even when restricted to the 2D sketchbook medium, she still found a way to be more creative than I was being. I can hear her saying right now “It’s not a competition Barb” as I’m writing this…but let’s be real, Angie it so was. 😉

Four of Angie’s contributions to our Sketchbook Exchange.

Four of my contributions to the Sketchbook Exchange.

With her encouragement, I found the strength to pursue going to art school, and I’ve been pursuing a career as a graphic designer ever since. She’s made her career as a props builder and scenic painter for the theatre arts, and as of last week has been nominated for a prestigious award for her work by her colleagues. We both still have our personal creative pursuits outside of our day jobs, and I’m still inspired by the things that she creates and the risks that she is willing to take.

Busy adult lives and not living in the same city means we don’t talk quite as often as we would like to, but when we do it’s hours and hours long. We talk about our ideas for projects, best practices for social media and website design we come across and artists that inspire us. Buying gifts for special occasions are always easier than they should be, because we always just think, “What would I want?” and then get that for each other. Needless to say, I look forward to her gifts the most.

Angie (Left) and Me (Right).

I’m not sure if everyone else has had the incredible fortune of having a sibling be their creative mentor, sounding board, and personal cheerleader, but I have. It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, there were tough times and tough love between us too. As a creative person, however, I absolutely, won the sister lottery. I am who I am today because of her, and I can’t imagine a creative life without my sister in some way being part of that.

To see more of Angie’s artwork visit: http://www.angiesot.com/

Do you share a creative talent with your sibling? Share your experience with me in the comments!

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