It’s a classic — illustration by Luke Hockley.

It’s a classic.

Dear Self,

The other day I was hanging out with my nephews and they saw one of the drawings I was doing and they got super excited about drawing and they got busy drawing.

I marvelled at their drawings, they were so full of personality.

In one of the final drawings I noticed there had been a strip cut off the side, I found the discarded piece of paper and it had a fantastic drawing of a person on it, beautifully framed on a long narrow strip of paper.

I asked the artist what had happened and he told me he’d made a mistake and so cut it off.

I told him how much I liked it and asked if he would sign it for me.

He was very suspicious.

Once I assured him I wouldn’t share it on the internet he was happy to sign it and give it to me (a reasonable request from the artist I thought).

I was curious about how worried he was that this drawing wasn’t up to standard to share. Of course an artist gets to choose what they publish and what they don’t…but I sensed in him something about being ‘good’ at drawing that I wouldn’t like to see get out of hand. I dearly hope he will continue to love his unique style as he grows up.

I remember the moment when I first felt dissatisfied with my drawing. I was around 10 years old and I looked at a frog sitting on a pond that I had drawn and decided that it didn’t look real, that it didn’t look like what I saw when I imagined the frog on the pond and I didn’t know what to do about it.

I had internalised some social norm about ‘good’ drawing being like a photograph and realised I didn’t live up to this standard.

I have revisited drawing a lot across my life. Over that time I have mended a lot of that ‘wound’ around who can and who can’t draw.

Yesterday I noticed an old cassette deck of ours being thrown into the rubbish, I immediately knew I was going to draw it. This object carries so many memories for me. It used to sit on an old bookshelf in our bungalow and I would listen to Radio National as I lay on my back and stretched. I didn’t want to throw it away without somehow acknowledging these memories.

As I drew it I reminded myself of the lesson I wanted to teach my nephew. Every time I would catch myself wanting to start again or seeing something I did as a mistake I would embrace it and enjoy the haphazard results. I can see now that these variations give what I draw personality. It makes the images unique.

With this cassette player it feels like the idiosyncrasies of my drawing help to capture the memories I have around this object. They make the image feel alive, like it has a history. They show that this inanimate thing has had a life.

It is lovely to feel like this about my drawing.


— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Know someone who would appreciate this letter?

What is Dear Self all about?