• Dan Gardner

Finding My Way..

At the beginning of 2020 I reached a bit of a crossroads as a creative and found myself asking a lot of questions. Questions such as: What is the actual purpose behind my work? What are the reasons I make photos, write poetry, or anything else I put my name to. Why do I do it? What is the point of it all?

Since then I've been slowly trying to find my way and conclude in my own mind what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and where I'm heading?


I suppose the first stage to my thought process in answering these questions, was just realising what I actually want to do. Removing all influence, trends and popular opinions - and just realising what I want to create myself.

I've always enjoyed creating from a very young age. Whether that was drawing, writing stories, designing, making music, writing poetry, or taking photos. There's always been something, always a new creative phase I went through.. but the two things that have stuck with me, that have always been my best forms of expression, were poetry & photography. Those things have never got old, never fizzled out, never stopped inspiring me. So I knew quite a while ago that these would be the arts I pursue.

My poetry has always been something that has come quite naturally to me. I never really sit down and plan to write a poem, the subject and words I write always come out of an emotion I experience, an instant of inspiration that leads to words on a page.

With photography, it's slightly different. I suppose I am more intentional with my photo projects, with an idea or concept that I'd like to explore. Although (that being said) whilst I'm out there taking photos, I try and slow down as much as I can and just naturally observe what I see, hear, smell and feel around me. To really immerse myself in the moments, so that I can better capture little parts of a story.

Thinking about it though, in both of these art forms, my goal has always been the same... I've always tried to encapsulate a feeling, to tell a story and to create something meaningful. And I now realised, that is what I WANT to do. That is the purpose of my work.


Next I started to ask myself why? Why do I actually feel the need to create? Why do I go to the lengths that I do to make something? To tell a story? To express a feeling?.. Why do I want (or need) to do it so much?

The initial conclusion I came to was that I didn't really know why, I just knew that I had to do it. It was just something inside me that made me want to put the things I think about, the things I experience, the things I feel, in to something I can actually see. In to something real, something that represents it.

But the more I thought about the "why", the more I realised that it's likely just down to the person that I am. I've always had a very active imagination, not one to sit still or let ideas pass by. From a young age I would write stories in my bedroom until the early hours of the morning, and I would often write poems or draw things from my imagination. Thinking back, it's true that I always needed to put my thoughts into something so that I felt more at peace with them. I'd also just love documenting things to look back on in years to come, I was a little obsessed with it in fact, and I still am today.

So I guess the "why" is to do with the person I've become, the mind that I live with, and my ongoing need to document, create and put my thoughts or emotions into something I can see and accept before me.


After realising the "why", I suppose my thoughts then gravitated to "who am I creating for" exactly? Is it always just for me? Or is it for other people? Who is going to want to see this, who is going to care?

I feel like this question gave me the most bother. Before asking myself that I was quite content in just creating with no real audience in mind - I suppose it was always just for myself, spontaneous and honest, with a sort of "take it or leave it" kind of attitude.

But then as I pondered on what others may think, I started to question my work and what it all meant. For a number of months I felt like I needed to gain some sort of acknowledgment from people, some sort of acceptance or recognition for my work. And this kind of thinking actually made me doubt myself even more and stop creating what I really wanted to. It made me care too much about what others might think.

Thankfully I snapped out of that cycle and returned to my care-free creative attitude before it got much worse.

The truth is, my art doesn't need to mean something to anyone else in this world but me. I do it for me, for my mind and my heart. I always have done, so why is it any different now? My art is quite honestly INSIGNIFICANT, and that's okay. I don't need this world to say "yes, that is meaningful" or give any acknowledgement to feel that what I create has more worth.. and that's not to sound arrogant or self-proclaimed, it's just to simply explain the reasons for what I do. And I'm happy in what I do.

Realising this final part was key in really finding my way. It made me feel content in what I do and eliminated any expectations I had. Which helped me accept my place and to just keep on doing what I love.


Over the last 12 months I found the things that inspire and drive me in this art, and also the things that do not. I found that there is no "destination" to my work, but instead a mindset that keeps me on the most meaningful route I can go personally. A route where I do not compare my work, I do not judge it, I just DO IT and enjoy it. I let it flow naturally. I write, I take photos, I make something meaningful.

Ultimately, my goal is to tell stories. To preserve and give significance to the ordinary. To find a feeling and capture small parts of something bigger, leaving room for thought & interpretation. Giving a voice to the obscure and documenting the fleeting moments of time in an honest and heartfelt way.

So.. amongst the madness of 2020, I feel that I did find my way creatively and am now in a good place to continue.

I'm looking forward to sharing some new (and ongoing) projects with you all this year. I am currently working on my first Zine and also my first print collection. More on that soon! I think 2021 is going to be a good one!

Thanks for stopping by, and as always thank you for your support!