Why do I create?

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Although I love writing, I make a living as a graphic and web designer.

I was at a local graphic designer’s social mixer last night. These gatherings occur semi-frequently to encourage networking and idea sharing. Since I’m always on the lookout for new clients and new ideas, I was handing out business cards and getting to know people.

My business card has a rather unique shape for a business card; it’s a 2.75″ diameter circle. I designed it to attract attention and it does its job well. I’ve grown accustomed to getting some kind of comment as people realize I’m handing them a business card and not a plastic-laminated coaster. I’m not ashamed to admit that I look forward to the attention my card gets. It’s nice to be noticed.

One of my encounters this particular evening was with a software developer. We exchanged handshakes, stole glances at each others’ name tags, and casually exchanged business cards. When I handed my card to my new acquaintance, however, I was surprised at his reaction. He turned it over in his hand and read the front and back. Instead of making a comment about the card’s unique shape, he looked me straight in the eye and asked me what I do.

I admit I was a bit taken aback. “What do you mean, ‘What do you do?'” I thought. “You just read my card. I’ve taken the liberty of printing it for you.” Not really expecting the question, I didn’t have a response. I mentally listed ways of describing what I do without making him feel like an idiot.

My response came unnaturally. “I design; I create.”

“Why do you create?” he asked; a second unexpected question.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I’ve never really thought about it. It’s what I love to do and it’s what I do.”

Not wanting to be rude (and not wanting to look like an idiot myself) I casually steered the conversation back on him and we went on to discuss the merits of web apps versus downloadable apps on mobile devices.

Our conversation was interrupted by a presentation and we went our separate ways afterwards – handing out business cards and shaking hands. Our dance was over and it was time to switch partners. But my mind lingered on his question.

Why do I create?