Still Here

Still Here: David Habben

With our “Still Here” series, we are checking in with members of Utah’s art community to see what the past six months has meant for them. David Habben is an illustrator, artist, and educator. His unique work has been featured in children’s books, magazines, and even on snowboards. He’s received awards from 3×3 Creative Quarterly, Communication Arts, Graphis Magazine, and the AIGA, including a 2020 AIGA SLC Copper Ingot. David’s first author-illustrated children’s book, “Mr. Sherman’s Cloud” (Page Street Publishing), was named one of Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for 2020. David’s education includes a BFA in Illustration (BYU) and MFA in Studio Art (UofU). He was also a Children’s Book Design Fellow at Chronicle Books.

“I’m lucky. I don’t mean that in some casual way or a take me to Vegas way. I mean that I’m sitting here in the safety of my own home, typing away on a laptop, while my family sleeps safely in warm beds. I’m about to enjoy a weekend, maybe differently than I used to, but it will still be a break. I’ll spend time outside and maybe wash the car. I’ll spend time with my kids and probably be both charmed by their magic and impatient with them. I didn’t use to think of these things involving luck. As a man of faith, I could call them blessings, but even then, I’m lucky to have those too.

I’m lucky because, despite the changing schedules, the quarantining, and mask-wearing, my most significant burden in the last several months has been an increase in worry. Some days that amplifies to become momentary anxiety, but it would be an exaggeration to say that I live in that state. Even then, my worry is less about contracting a tenacious virus as much as it is about the effects of worry on everyone else. Worries become fears and fear, well, we know where that can lead.

My classrooms have become 2D backlight virtual conversations. I might as well be orbiting in a space station as I do my best to prepare the next generation of illustrators for their post-graduate life. They smile, and we turn on the video and turn off mute and seem to have a conversation, but it’s not the same. I hear their hopes and questions, and they are my own. What’s the next step? How can I succeed? What if I fail? They worry, and I worry, but I don’t want them to see that worry. I want them to find faith in my faith, as I’ve done with so many others. I’m lucky in that way, too, because I’ve seen and felt great faith in so many ways and in so many people. People that now are on the other end of a video call or text message. Faith seems to be more accessible when you’re talking face to face, but we try.

We try because it’s all we can do, and we try because the alternative brings a bitter taste of cowardice to our tongues and minds. We try, and we wait for those with power to wield it with more compassion and morality. We try, and we wait for those with education and experience to bring healing and prevention. We try each day because … we’re lucky.

We’re lucky. I don’t mean that in some casual way or in a take us to Vegas way. I mean that we’re sitting here in the safety of our worry, finding ways to try and make it better while we wait. We’re lucky because we can do that in the midst of distraction. We’re lucky because tomorrow will allow us to do that again, and so will the day after that.”

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