Taming the creative beast | MD McCallum, column, creativity, art creation,

Before computers, I had no idea how creative I could be. Now after decades of computer use ranging from writing code to delving deeply into many aspects of visual arts, I find myself trying to tame a beast that, seemly, is untamable.

Before computers, I spent most of my "after work" time watching TV. Generally, not alone, not always what I wanted to watch but I watched it just the same. Television had gone from three stations in my youth to hundreds of choices. On demand was not a thing so we didn't miss it but there were alternatives like videotape and laserdisc.

Viewing parties were planned and carried out to various degrees. Roots, How the West Was Won and other mini-series were epic events. It was a big thing to talk about the previous night's show at work the next day.

I hear a lot of these things still go on today, but I wouldn't know because a curious thing happened to my viewing hours. They dried up. Vanished almost completely. I was spending 4 to 6 viewing hours a day and as I aged the viewing time went up. Then it all came to a halt because of one breakthrough, the 286 (80286) based computers.

Finally, we had a system that could do something. You might be able to cook dinner and clean house in between those somethings but we had bonafide computing power in our hands. From that point on I was hooked and plunged deeply into the world of computers. Pushing the existing envelopes (they were pretty small back then), writing code (you didn't have a choice) and trying to build the ultimate digital art computer.

I was in deep -- real deep -- before I realized I had a monkey on my back... a digital monkey I call the Creative Beast.

It adheres to the same motto as I do... NEVER give up and NEVER give in. It is there during my waking and sleeping hours. It is relentless, and it needs its fix. Constantly. From art to AR/VR I have done everything but sell my soul to work on certain projects because of the technology. I wrote many dreary, dry white papers to get attention in a certain field because the Beast was calling for it.

I am not always in control. Sometimes the Beast is.

I am a digital junky.

There I've said it and my life is a lot richer for it.

I've met other digital junkies along the way. Frustrated painters, animators and sculptors, they just didn't know they were those things back then. They weren't empowered for such pursuits. While this may be a firm grasp of the obvious, the computer is a great equalizer, giving a wide swath of people the power to pursue things they normally wouldn't or couldn't.

It also puts the monkey on your back if you have strong creative tendencies.

I have seen strained relations and near broken marriages, because the Beast had a strong calling on one or the other in the relationship. The Beast knows no boundaries. It cares not for gender or color. It blatantly disregards all manner of things in its quest to be realized.

It can fragment your toolbox. Rob you of your focus and splinter you off into every new piece of creative software that hits the market. You buy a nice little program that makes cool art out of photos and the next thing you know you are trying to hide your Creative Cloud bill from your significant other.

The Beast can be cruel and expensive when left unchecked.

Go ahead... laugh... but when you are red-eyed, bone tired, scrunched over your computer or tablet at 3 a.m., ignoring pleas to come to bed, trying to get that damned lighting right, we'll see who has the last laugh.

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. M.D. is currently working on VR projects and characters. You can learn more about MD at his website.