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License to Create

Redrawn picture of a sunset at a plaza in Nice, France.

Hi everyone! It feels like such a long time since I published anything new here. It’s been a busy spring for me, school and work-wise, but always appreciate the busyness and excitement!

This semester, I took a Philosophy course on Ethics, Virtue, Morals, and Decision-Making. Without having to share too much, I am enjoying the material. Learning different philosophers’ theories on human behavior and norms such as deontology, virtue ethics, utilitarianism, as well as topics of social justice, human rights, etc. has been a game-changer for me. Taking this course, I had the idea and intention to use the content to leverage the degree I’m pursuing. As an advocate for communication rooted with good and right intentions, facts and truth – it proved to be a great decision. Since the term started, different theories have affirmed my personal beliefs, values, and my wish to implement the ideas in my work.

Anyway, that’s just a short update on my Spring term, back to the topic…

The Creative License Book Cover

So…License to Create. What does that mean? Well, I’m referring to Danny Gregory’s The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are. Back in high school, I believe on my sophomore year, my art teacher gifted me a copy of the book – which I still have with me today! This book was such a HUGE influence on my interests and perception of art today; it propelled me to the world of journaling, reflecting, and overall, helped me get into a creative mindset without exclusively only applying it to art.

Gregory’s approach to creativity simplified my then-sophomore brain’s questions regarding:

  • “Who has the right to make art?”
  • “Can I make art?”
  • “Is art only for talented people?”
  • “What is talent?”
  • “What are the standards of talent?”
  • …and so on (you get the gist)

To further explain, Gregory compared the creative license to acquiring a driver’s license. When you think about it, everyone can do it – people just need to invest the time and effort to practice. I know, sounds easier said than done and I’m not going to lie to you, it’s difficult. I feel like as we age, it gets harder to place ourselves out of the conditioning of society, the constructs that define talent and artistry. But like the analogy of the drivers’ license, you have to start somewhere and I believe that is conquering your fear – whatever that may be.

I recently got my driver’s license, I shared that info before on my other posts, but the fear of the idea of being on the road is still fresh on my mind. I was afraid that I would do something wrong, maybe swerve while I drive and not stay in the middle of the lane…a major fear for me was not being able to observe the road enough. Like, O M G, how am I supposed to keep my eyes up-front while trying to check my blindspots, handle the wheel, while controlling the gas and brake pedals?!

Yeah, you get it…and you can laugh because I am laughing at myself, too!

It took actually being on a vehicle to realize that my fears could be remedied with enough practice, attentiveness to drive well, and my willingness to learn. And just to be clear, creating art is incomparable to driving – the idea behind the analogy is to emphasize the significance of the process and practice it takes to acquire that license.

Through a quick Google search, here are two definitions of the word “License:”

  • noun: a permit from an authority to own or use something, do a particular thing, or carry on a trade (especially in alcoholic beverages).
  • verb: grant a license to (someone or something) to permit the use of something or to allow an activity to take place.

Giving yourself the creative license means allowing yourself to be creative, granting yourself to do an activity that can seem daunting and intimidating due to whichever level of art-experience you currently have. There are many ways to start, methods such as whether or not you want to involve an online community, or you can do it in secret. That’s fine, too.

When I first began this journey, I started with a small black sketchpad, a pencil, and a 0.05 Micron pen. It was a trip! I remember taking in the wisdom of Gregory, especially the one on improving failed drawing attempts. I rarely ever threw any art I made – I took pride in that learning process and loved looking at where I was and where I am now in terms of skill.

Earlier, I was going to write that art and driving are incomparable because driving can deal with situations of life or death. Then I realized, art can have that effect, too. To this day, I am grateful my art teacher gifted me The Creative License because I relied heavily on journaling and drawing to process a dark time of my junior year. This form of expression, the thrill of creating and observing, had given me an outlet that quite similarly, my driver’s license has given me today. Art has become a meditation for me, sometimes I get so lost in creating that I lose track of space and time.

Being in the mode of creation and allowing myself the license to do it has given me a different appreciation of art and artists alike. It definitely changed my perception on my own creative process – to this day, I still surprise myself when I produce something – not to say that I’m on a superior level of “talent,” which in my belief, talent = time invested to cultivate a skill. The shock is more in terms of: “wow, I didn’t know I could do that!” And I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t at least try.

If you have made it this far and are wondering, who gives out the license to create? The answer is: you.

Thank you for reading this review/reflection of a book that heavily impacted me as a teenager!

Happy Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day weekend 🙂


Book referenced:

The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are by Danny Gregory
You can find it on Amazon at:
You can also visit Danny Gregory’s website at:

I am not affiliated with Danny Gregory or Amazon. I am simply a grateful and enthusiastic reader who gained a lot from his work.

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