"I'm Just A Girl": Introducing The Creative Exchange
It’s pretty cool, this whole writing-about-a-friend thing. It’s like writing a birthday card inundating them with praises, but for the whole world to see. I disdain those novel-length Instagram captions praising the boyf (“write them a card!!!”), but I can now understand the sentiment behind wanting to publicly praise someone, whether that’s a boyf or a friend or even just someone you’ve never met but partly idolize (hi, Chris Martin). (But still, write. them. a. card.)
Lane Sasser is a dear friend, a baller The 1975 dance partner, a terrific fellow Columbus, Ohio tourist, a laugh-out-loud writer, and a passionate and talented artist. Like all good and lasting friendships, ours began with a mutual love for London; we initially bonded over Asian fusion and waxing nostalgic about our own study abroad experiences in London Town.
So when I wanted to use That First Year to partner with my peers and highlight all the cool and creative things they are doing, Lane was easily my inaugural choice for the launch of The Creative Exchange (Related: You can buy Lane’s art made exclusively for That First Year and make your morning coffee routine and home pretty! This is very cool!!!!!)
Like the ~real journalist~ I am, I sat down with Lane to discuss her art in her art gallery—wait, sorry, I mean living room (guys, you should see the way it’s decorated)—peppermint mocha coffee in hand, Christmas lights twinkling on the sweet little tree in the corner as a weak November light poured in through a wall-spanning bay window.
You know those moments where you can just tell that someone is talking about their passion, because their face is brighter and their voice more animated and their words come easily? That’s how it is talking to Lane about her art, and nothing makes this “FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!” heart of mine happier than seeing a friend so passionately pursue what makes her come alive.
Following in the footsteps of other successful artists’ career beginnings, “I was super obsessed with the PowerPuff girls,” Lane says. Did 2001-era you want a drawing of these rascally Cartoon Network girlies in different poses? Third grade Lane would have had you covered. And thus begins the story of Lane As An Artist.
Lane continued her art through high school, but never considered it as something that could be anything more than a hobby.
“I think for a while it was a self-doubt thing,” she says. “It was just for fun.”
She then ventured off to the dreamy Land of Liberal Arts College, and like all Belmont University students are required to do, she majored in music business for a semester before switching to studio art. Wait, you aren’t required to major in music business for at least one semester at Belmont? Sorry for peppering my ~real journalism~ with untruths, but we live in a Post-Truth Society anyways, so I feel excused.
But studio art only lasted for two semesters before self-doubt said “nah” to pursuing art and persuaded her to a third, “safer” major change to public relations. Heyooooo, who can relate to this choice in going the “safer” route in their majors or careers?! Me. I can.
“I didn’t really have much confidence in my creative ability. I knew I could replicate something, but I didn’t think I was creative enough in my head to do that as a career,” she says.
Unlike some who cave to outside pressures like parents or money when it comes to choosing a major or career, for Lane, “it was all me.”
“I was scared of the business end of it all. [Marketing myself] just doesn’t come very naturally to me. I don’t really know anything about money, so I always saw it as this great barrier. [Art] would just never be a reality.”
A year and a half out of school, though, Lane has pushed aside the self-doubt and committed herself to her art, though she wouldn’t be quick to introduce herself as Lane Sasser, Artist.
“I think it’s so hard to say that out loud for some reason. I think it’s from a societal viewpoint of like, ‘you can only call yourself an artist if you’ve achieved x, y or z.’ But I mean I think ultimately it becomes a personal decision if you want to take that title. I could never put in my Instagram bio, ‘artist.’ I would just feel silly. I’m just so weird about assigning an image to myself, I would never be like, ‘this is me’.”
“That’s what I should probably work on—taking myself more seriously.” But you take your art seriously, I counter. “And that’s true, because it’s not about me. I’m just a girl.”
And thus the essence of art: soul-work that transcends self and speaks to something greater. “Art reaches its greatest peak when devoid of self-consciousness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make,” said Bruce Lee (okay, so he might not be a visual artist, but still, the quote applies).
Though Lane hopes to make art the day job one day, she currently does the 9-to-5 thing, but unlike prior to starting her full-time job when she had more free time, she’s found that the limited time to create has been the necessary catalyst to making art an integral part of her day, as natural as making your coffee in the morning.
“I thought it would be a forced thing, but it’s made [creating] come more naturally to me. The day ends, and it’s what I want to do. It’s become very natural for me to find inspiration most days, whatever it may be.”
She sketches every day, “even if that means just drawing something in front of me. I’ll even just draw people around me, and they don’t know it,” she laughs.
Her self-discipline has paid off, as she recently was invited to display her artwork in J & J’s Market & Cafe, a Nashville coffee shop. The collection is a mix of mostly abstract pieces that experiment with color and texture.
My own pursuits with art ended once my art classes in high school came to a close, and let’s be real, I am a writer, not an artist, and I’m especially ignorant of the process behind creating abstract works. So I asked Lane to explain what goes on in her artist brain when she faces the blank canvas, paintbrush in hand.
“Every time I approach it, the first thought is, what color do I want it to be? It sounds pretty elementary or basic, but it’s like, how do I feel, and what colors will convey that? Application defines the emotion, whether it’s brushy or smooth or kind of rough; that’s kind of what speaks for me. Where I position stuff, what’s underneath, what’s coming out: it’s a combination of color texture and application in how I convey an emotion.”
She continues, “I just see things in color. I see life in color, and I’m not scared of color, and a lot of artists are. I know these days people are very subdued and muted, but I’m kind of not minimalistic at all in that approach. It’s embracing whatever mood I feel. For me, that’s where I found cohesion with that collection [at J & J’s], just the disarray of emotions, instead of being, ‘this is how I am, always.’”
The classic art imitating life, “reflecting how all over the place I am as a person.” Much like all of us new grads feeling like a hot mess. (Can I still count myself in that group even though it’s been two years now? Because I'm going to.)
She touches on the temptations to compare yourself to others: “Always remember that no one can do exactly what you can do, and not like we’re all special snowflakes, but everyone has a personal experience, and it’s important to remember that instead of wishing you had someone else’s.”
What final sage advice does Lane offer to her fellow creatives?
“This sounds so self-help stupid book shit, but, just do it. Just do it. If you want to do something, just do it. Don’t think about it so hard.”
You can find exclusive art from Lane here, on this very website! How exciting is that?!?! (Answer: very, very exciting!!!) Your purchase supports Lane’s artwork and That First Year, allowing us to keep the website running, pay writers more and pay more writers. So, basically, a big ‘ole win for everyone involved.
If you’re a Nashville local, you can see her artwork in person at J & J’s Market & Cafe. Follow her on Instagram (@_i_rest_my_case_) to see “a combination of my stupid shit and then also my art.” Want to commission her for a piece? Shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And really, buy her artwork created exclusively for That First Year and support art! Consider this peer pressure!