Diallo Smith—Stretching New Creative Muscles

Editor’s Note: The following blog post is written entirely by DSTL Arts student, Diallo Smith, a spectacular young artist who has recently learned the value of creative writing. To learn more about Diallo we suggest you read more about him here.

I’ve always loved stories: to hear them, to tell them. I devoted a lot of time to their study. I heard things, watched things, read things; and from that, I said things, drew things. But I never wrote things.

DSTL Arts students working on their artistic careers

I considered myself an artist in many ways, but I did not consider writing. It wasn’t how I had trained myself to think; stories were colors and sound, motion and shape. Writing was not evocative enough, it was too abstract, it left too much to the reader, it did so little. I did not think in ways that were conducive to writing, I didn’t even consider it.

I knew how to write, however. I could even write quite well. It was just never a passion to me, never something I’d devote time or study to. When I wanted to tell a story, the last thing I wanted was to have it written.

I studied animation, and drawing, comics and film. But it was always a struggle for me. I had to, and still do, work hard to be anything even slightly above mediocre when it comes to visual mediums. When I write however, it comes naturally, which is perhaps why I have always taken it for granted. I could write, but I would not.

It was not until I came to DSTL Arts that I began to devote the same time and energy I did to visual mediums, to the art of writing. I began to think differently; stories were not color and motion, sound and shape. Stories could be a word, a single word.

DSTL Arts students in action

A story could be the space between two letters, or the mere lack of punctuation on a page. I began to think of stories in terms of writing, I began to think of stories meant to be told in a written word, stories that could not be adequately expressed through sound motion or color. Stories only done justice by the abstract that lays between words on a page: the space I previously thought so inadequate.

DSTL Arts gave me that option, that space to explore. It’s made me consider things I hadn’t. It’s expanded the toolkit I, as an artist, have to tell stories. It has quite possibly put me on a new path or in the very least given me a new option. I’m stretching new muscles.

DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization that inspires, teaches and hires creative at-risk youth ages 16–21 years old. Like Diallo, we strive to be more than mediocre for our students. Help us continue teaching our students to use new creative muscles. Give a gift of support now, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more stories about how we inspire our youth.

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