Sometimes, you come across a human interest story that seems almost too interesting (and inspiring!) to be nonfiction. Here’s one of them, courtesy of National Public Radio.
If you’re up on fashion, you’ve probably seen the vibrant, luxurious silk scarves that legendary French designer Hermes has been known for since 1937. These aren’t just any scarves: each Hermes piece is hand tailored, handcrafted from fine silk and hand designed by an artist carefully commissioned by the designer. And each comes with a $400-plus price tag. Hermes has produced more than 2,000 scarf designs over the years, working with numerous artists to achieve each one’s signature precision and beauty. But only one of these scarf artists is American.
That sole American Hermes scarf designer is Kermit Oliver, a near 70-year-old postman living in Waco, Texas. Although Kermit is one of the most important living African American painters in the United States, he works the graveyard shift at the Waco Post Office, day-in, day-out. For years, the painter’s days have gone something like this: Work overnight at the post office, come home, paint a little, take a 2 or 3 hour nap, and start the cycle all over again. From this routine come the gorgeous paintings that line the walls of Kermit’s modest home, and 16 Old West-inspired Hermes scarves that women the world over are dying to wear. Asked why he doesn’t make art his career, Kermit says simply, “Painting is just something I do.”
If there’s one thing to take away from Kermit’s story, it’s this: Creativity can be your main gig even if it isn’t your full-time job. Making time for your book, your painting or your music isn’t always easy, and we don’t all have the luxury of doing what we love at our 9-to-5. But who says we have to be defined by our day job, anyway? With a little motivation and schedule shifting, we can all fit in the few hours per day it takes to move our creative projects forward. We can each be the boss of our own creativity.