I envision the drive to create and consume art as an engine or a fire. At different times in my life the engine has been running full speed or barely puttering along.
My love for art started when I was a kid when I discovered comics, specifically Archie and Garfield, then later X-Men and the Marvel universe. By the time I was in grade 8 I was sure the only thing I wanted to do for a living was be an artist. The engine was running hot! That plan however didn't survive contact with high school and the prospect of graduating and having to get a 'real' job. So I focused on my other interest, computers, and entered into the IT field as my career. It didn't take long until the engine was on life support and it stayed that way for a long time. Cards on the table, I don't think there has ever been a period where I have been totally happy with that decision. It's been fine, of all the career paths out there IT is not a bad one, it's just never been the one that I feel I completely fit into. At different time over the years my interest in art would flare up, the engine would come back to life again for a period before running down, probably due to me thinking it impossible or too late to change my path.
Cut to going to my first 'comic con', the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo. Walking artist alley blew my mind. I suddenly realized you could be an pop/comic style artist and not have to work at Marvel or some other big corporation. You could just do your own thing, make your own way. It was about this time that I also discovered web-comics which further enforced the notion. I wish I could say that I just immediately dived back into the art pool but I didn't. It has been a slow build up, getting the engine turned back on, seeking out what I need to learn and where to learn it. The single best thing I have done though is having a table in artist alley at the local conventions. It's not really about selling my art, there is incredible value to just meeting artists on the 'other side' of the table as colleagues and seeing the reaction people have to my art even if they don't want to take it home with them. This year I was finally able to get a table at the Calgary Comcs and Entertainment Expo (having done Edmonton, Saskatoon and St. Albert in the last couple of years). I wasn't ready at all since I hadn't heard anything from them until the week before and had written off getting in this year. Despite that it was an amazing experience and I came back from it with the art engine roaring. I feel like I have turned a corner, left behind some baggage, and can finally really focus on developing my art skills and finding my way as an artist.