I have come to realize recently that I have lost a lot of artwork over the years. Sometimes I'll find an old image or just something I see will reminds me of something I did long ago and disappeared from my collection. I also think of all the stuff I gave away to family and friends as gifts and never took a photo or made any other kind of copy of. What happened to all those drawings and photos? Where are they now? How many are lost forever?
I know where a vast number went... When I lived in Boston, my first apartment there was flooded 4 times in 2 years. I lost many drawings and thousands of photos. This was long before the digital age so all that wet paper was ruined forever. As soon as the technology made it possible, I scanned all the remaining images, drawings, paintings and photos alike and still have them on my computer and on back up disks.
But what about all those works of art I did when I was younger? Firstly, would anyone (especially me) want to see them again anyway? Some, I admit, I would. I remember doing a series of "tall ship" pencil drawings and some pen and ink animal images...and lots of dragons and sci-fi stuff for fun and a friend's fanzine. I also remember a series of poster recreations, logos and all, a preview of my interests and career in graphic design perhaps. A couple pages did survive from these periods and I'm still not ashamed or even unhappy with most of it. Some of it I leads me to retry things or inspires me to new ideas.
Not long ago I redrew an ink drawing I had done on a massive mounted drawing board 25 year ago and managed to compare it to the original which was still in the home of the cousin I drew it for. I learned quite a bit just by seeing it again. I think I have improved my skill set but also I could see how my focus has changed in what details I chose to accentuate and how I chose to represent complex subjects.
What can be done about all this lost experience? Not much. I am making an effort to photograph stuff I gave away if I can get to it. The more I think about it, the more things I remember are gone. Is it sentimentality? Curiosity about my own past thoughts? Ego? I can't say I really know, but I seem to be getting a lot from just trying to remember my past accomplishments and even more if I actually rediscover them somewhere.