Salton Sea boat on land by Johnny Kerr
Captive / California, 2017

I made this image on my California road trip in January. When I saw this boat—which seemed permanently stranded on land, some 25 yards from the sea—it immediately spoke to me. It inspired me to write a haiku:

I dreamed of a boat

Held captive, away from sea

The rain comforts me

When I went into the commercial art profession as a graphic designer I became burned out after three years. Creating artwork for commercial purposes drained me and took all of the joy out of art. Also, you could hardly call most of what I was doing “art” because most customers wouldn’t even let me apply my creative expertise. Rather, they demanded, in their layman ignorance and horrible taste, that their graphics use cheesy fonts like Comic Sans and Papyrus, despite my opposing recommendation. Sure, I could have paid my dues, put in my time, and eventually landed a more creative position, but that would likely have come with relocation and heavy time demands. Realizing my family is too important to me to make such a commitment, I left that profession behind.

Detail of Captive image
Detail of “Captive”

I now teach for a living and make art only for myself. Some days, when I’m at my day job, I feel like this boat; It was designed to be in the water, yet it sits on land, captive, out of its element. There is a loneliness, a longing and a restlessness that sometimes consumes my thoughts. But, then I make time for creating art. The rain comes. The boat feels the sensation of water again. Not fully wet or even floating, but satisfying nonetheless. I am learning to be patient and steadfast. The wanderlust will never go away, but I keep fighting for the time to make my art when I can. I’m not counting the days until retirement, but I sure am looking forward to that day when I can really get to work.