Last night, my wife's friend Angela came over. We started talking about things and she brought up that she was tired of her job and wanted to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant. We talked about the whole idea that it's risky but I talked about how she needed to think about what her real goal in wanting to open a restaurant was. I talked about all the childhood memories I was dredging up and who they directly related to what I was doing now. She sat there and then had an aha moment, realizing that her interest in cooking was all based on her love of cooking with her grandmothers as a kid. The restaurant idea was completely informed by her childhood and she had never thought about it. Now by examining those childhood experiences, she could get a better idea of what it is she wants to do now as an adult.
The other thing that happened that got me thinking about this a few months back when I was on the online show Toy Break. I was on the couch talking with Ragnar and he pulled out a 1960's Marx Nutty Mad and started waxing nostalgic about it and talking about how he wanted to create a toy based on the molding principles, type of plastic and approach to sculpting. He did not want to make a copy or knock-off but to make a toy that fulfilled similar principles. I talked to him about it and it all stemmed from his childhood love of the toy. As an artist, this toy from his past was influencing what he created in the present.
These childhood affiliations inform everything we do and by examining these influences, we as artists can better understand what we are trying to create. Every book that I have created up to this point is either a small square book like my childhood Miffy book or a vertical comic book format book. These forms feel right to me. And while Ragner feels a need to revisit the Nutty Mads, as a kid I had a bed full of stuffed animals, not surprisingly, I love to make plush toys. And understanding these influences does not limit you but instead opens up your understanding of what you are trying to do. So you have the freedom to create and grow even further.
PS - You can see the fence of my childhood home in the photo above, looks a little like the one that Mr Toast is seen walking next to. Just this second is the first time I have made that connection.