by Wilhelmina de Haas, Graphic Services Specialist

It is well known that creativity makes people happier and stronger and reduces stress – contributing to overall better mental and physical health. Being creative also better equips an individual to problem-solve during difficult time – to elevate oneself in a positive manner – whether it be personal or work-related.

As an artist, photographer, graphic designer, and writer, I often have people asking me, “What inspires you and where does your creativity come from?” I guess I could simply say “it just happens”, but I believe it’s much more complex than that. It’s the combination of not only embracing, but also truly recognizing your surroundings, believing in your abilities, not giving up, applying yourself, constantly reinventing yourself and allowing yourself to evolve by taking “artistic risks”. Being creative in my personal life helps me be positive in my work life as a Graphics Services Specialist enabling me to do a better job, solve problems quicker, and perform to the best of my abilities.

Growing up in a Dutch family, I had exposure to the arts early on — most notably classical music and art thanks to the encouragement of my parents. I had always been an incessant doodler, a sketcher, a writer of poetry; I dabbled in photography and above all else, I am a dreamer. I only took brush to canvas about four years ago when I was inspired by magnificent artworks I had seen in museums in Amsterdam and Paris. Looking at the artwork of famous classic masters I was inspired to pick up a brush and see what I could do on canvas. I poured over art books, visited museums, and read stories about the masters. I painted maybe 20 canvases, in the style of Van Gogh, Degas, Picasso, and others. Some were successful and other not so – those “not so” typically got a nice kick right through the canvas as well as a few expletives uttered in disgust. But I never, ever gave up.

One day I had a surge of creative inspiration – like an electric bolt. I thought, I can explore other venues, aside from painting acrylics. As a teen, I loved decoupage, painstakingly cutting pictures out of Vogue or other fashion magazines and gluing them onto cardboard. And as a graphic designer – I’m especially skilled at Photoshop – so I thought, what if I combined the two? The first digital collage I created was “Homage to Bosch”.

Hieronymus Bosch always fascinated me. A Dutch painter from the early 1500s, he created fantastic imagery in paintings. Art historians have offered many interpretations of his rich and religiously symbolic work. After carefully studying his work, and being greatly impressed by this provocative and individualistic painter, I chose the third panel of his triptych “Garden of Earthly Delights” because of the painting’s symbolism and subject matter. But, most importantly, I knew this was going to be a great challenge. I was ready!

“Homage to Bosch” took almost a month’s worth of free time to create, with over a 100 individual layers carefully melded together to form a whole image. Since I created this piece in 2013, “Homage to Bosch” has been exhibited a handful of times and received accolades from laymen and art critics alike. What gives me satisfaction is knowing that I have created something that no one has ever created before. And that’s what gives me the inspiration to reach out even further and continue to evolve as both an artist and an individual. It’s the satisfaction that comes from creating; the constant yearning to grow, to evolve, to be different, and the courage to take chances.

So put down that TV clicker and pick up a paintbrush or a pencil and get busy with your creative side. Learn to play a musical instrument, take your camera when you walk the dog, or even write some poetry. You just might be surprised by how creativity gives you a sense of purpose and true inner satisfaction, and carries through in such a profoundly positive way in both your personal and work life.