My son is something of a Shaun Tan fan. (If you are not familiar with Shaun Tan, he's an Australian illustrator of picture books.) So when we happened to see a poster advertising Shaun's recent visit to Sydney coinciding with the launch of his new book, my Z was keen to attend. So I checked my diary and then thought, why not? We could do this. Drive into the city, figure out where to park, try out that sushi restaurant we'd been eyeing off for years and make an evening of it. Yep - I could support my son's interests this way.
But what I wasn't expecting was for the event to inspire me too. I'd thought it would all be about art and painting and drawing. I figured I'd just be the taxi driver. The dinner buyer. The friendly companion in lines at the door. I didn't count on having my heart tugged by wonder and the humble perspectives of creativity.
The event was hosted by Kinokuniya Book Shop and was a conversation between Shaun Tan and artist Nick Stathopoulos. The two of them talked about Shaun's art work, his habits, his interests, the stories behind the tales he tells (his most recent work is a collection of short stories and artworks called Tales from the Inner City).
I was struck by Shaun's humility, his thoughtful responses and the sense of wonder he carried with him about his craft. Although I'd thought I was there to support my son, I found myself inspired and encouraged in my own creative work (even though I work primarily with words).
My Z, himself a budding illustrator more often than not found hunched over his desk drawing, also loved it. Nothing better to inspire creativity that to hear someone you admire talk honestly about the very same struggles you are facing, and to offer their perspectives on how to keep going!
So, with sushi for dinner, listening in on the two artists in conversation, some of Shaun Tan's wonderful images floating around in our minds and a scenic detour in the city on the way home (otherwise known as 'getting lost') Z and I had an unexpectedly joyous time.
I'd recommend an evening like that any day!