Books, Art, & Visual Culture


Writing and design by Melissa Hill, graphic designer.

The genius of youth


Who am I?

because i think i've forgotten somehow

Who am I? I feel as though I’ve lost my voice somewhere along the way, forgotten how to express myself purely for myself, how to create without judgement, without acknowledgement of limitations.

I used to create without thinking, without strategy, without any motive other than to get my insides out of myself. It was second nature; first nature, even. I was an artist, an author, a poet, a composer; mediums weren’t defined, there were no barriers. Ideas were constantly rattling around in my head and I’d sprinkle them out like coins into a jar.

Everything I created was a masterpiece.

I don’t remember being as harsh with myself as I am now. Of course, I wanted to be “good”, but only for its own sake. At the same time though, I didn’t think my efforts were bad. I saw them as worthy. Worthy of sharing, worthy of exposing to the public gaze.

It’s so much harder now.

My lack of specialisation now feels like a flaw. My desire to flit between mediums and disciplines feels like a huge barrier between me and any kind of successful endeavour. And that word, “success”, what does that mean? There’s a whole other can of worms.

I can’t seem to separate in my mind my true desire to create and the idea that I should be able to forge some kind of practical value from my creative adventures. I never do things purely from the joy of it any more; always in the back of my mind is the possibility of creating something marketable. Can I sell this? It’s as though I feel guilty for creating for my own pleasure, that these pursuits can only be justified, legitimised by a business plan and the intention that eventually, these frivolities will pay for themselves — perhaps even more.

So, I suppose it’s no surprise then, that every time I pick up a sketch book, a paint brush, process an image, I view my results with less than friendly eyes. Nothing is good enough, nothing is satisfying. I feel self conscious and awkward, like I’ve just stepped into a room full of people who are all staring at my inappropriate choice of outfit.

I feel unworthy.

And I feel as though I have no ideas. What do you draw when you know everything is going to turn out badly? What ideas can I have that my rusted skills can cope with? Is there any point?

I don’t remember this being a problem when I was younger. Why can’t I just go back to thinking that everything I do is amazing?


Photo by Melissa Hill, taken at Vivid Sydney 2017