The Good, the bad and the ugly

When a year feels like a day: Finding creative inspiration in tragedy and fortune.

The Good

My baby girl was born March 25, 2009. It was the happiest day of my life. The months of anticipation and preparation for this new tiny addition to our family couldn’t possibly prepare me for the emotions I would feel as our little one took her first breath, her tiny body turning from purple to pink right before my eyes. It was such a wonderful moment. I had to document it in a way that was more than just taking a picture or shooting some HD video. I created “Cocktails with God” to celebrate this time in my life. God sits in his holy lounge chair, enjoying a beautiful spring/summer day, sipping a cocktail – the entire world filling his glass.

The Bad

At 7:45am, on February 1st, 2010, my wife of 5 years died. She died on the floor of our office, in our Woodstock, Ontario home. An undiagnosed heart condition called, ‘Long QT Syndrome’ would take her life. There was no warning. She was typing an email to a friend, with our then 10 month old baby girl sitting on her lap, when her heart stopped. I was getting ready to go to work when I heard the crash as she fell from her chair to the floor.

After her skin turned white and her lips went purple, after the “death rattle”, after the CPR; after the strong compressions, the cries from the baby and the internal chaos. As I sat in the hospital, I felt helpless despite the intervention of top medical professionals, immediate emergency procedures and -ultimately- her full recovery. As we waited it out, I felt trapped. I felt immobilized – unable to do anything at all. Later, I would use that feeling to create, “She Will Swim with Angels” – an image of a high rise apartment in the centre of an oceanic world disaster. The view is from the inside looking out. The world is filled with hundreds of feet of water. As you watch the empty cars and trucks float buy, their lights still on from the sudden calamity. A tiny crack develops in the window you’re staring out from. That crack will eventually worsen. That window will eventually burst. The question remains: will you drown slowly in the rising water? Or die quickly when the glass shatters and the water rushes in?

The Ugly

I met a lot of really cool people in design school- true free-thinkers- people that shared their ideas and lifestyle as openly with me, as I did with them. Unfortunately, a large proportion of these people did drugs. I did not. I don’t know why. I just didn’t. Kevin, a great friend, and a good designer to boot, did a lot of drugs. But for all the drugs he did, he never pressured me to do it. He never even asked if I wanted any. He knew I’d say “no”. For Kevin, if I didn’t partake, it just meant there was more for him. Kevin had taken Meth at a party with some “friends”. He had taken the drug and passed out, just prior to the group leaving to go clubbing. They all left except for one. A girl at the party said she’d watch him and make sure he was ok. By the time her friends started spilling back home from the night’s escapades, Kevin was already dead. The girl who was supposed to watch him, fell asleep and Kevin aspirated and died. What a waste. I had no idea what to do with my anger, pain, everything I was feeling about Kevin’s death. I did the only thing I knew how to do and that was to turn my computer on and work. The image entitled, “I Came Apart” would be based on that horrific journey and the loss of a good friend.

Find inspiration anywhere… even where it hurts.

For me, the only way to heal is to use the moments that knock us down in the same way as the moments that build us up. Whether it be death or life, it seems to take me in the same direction. It seems to end at the same place- the desire to create. It’s the way I choose to face each of them head on. Some artists look for inspiration in movies, books, etc.. and they are all good ways to achieve the end goal. But moments of inspiration can come from anywhere. Inspiration comes from the epicenter of the horrific and the heavenly in equal measure. Sometimes it shoots through my brain like a bullet, other times it floats down to me on angel’s wings. Either way, it heals. It saves. It gives me a place to put feelings that would otherwise be too overwhelming and it is the only way to be truly original, truly groundbreaking.