Roger has a great post where he features an e-mail from a Taiwanese student who yearns to swap robotic testing academics for something more meaningful:
"That's why I e-mail you, as your book says, I am explorer, artist, judge, but no warrior (I'm not sure if it is right 'cause mine is Chinese version).
I wanna be but i CANT be! I believe I'm creative and have been given the talent to create, but I'm afraid. . . . It's big pressure because designers have hard time to live in this country, especially when they are young."
You should read the post when you have time. The picture associated with this post was an Illustration I did while at the Chicago Tribune back in 1998. It was my second year at the Trib and many of the innovative things we did for the site were winding down, becoming standardized. Anyone remember the term "shovelware"? Basically, we stopped creating original interactive content and started pouring the paper's content into the site in an almost automated fashion.
I was bored to tears.
So I did the natural thing any restless soul would do. I started dabbling in other activities to keep the creative juices flowing. I spent a few months developing a messy, hand drawn, collage style of illustration just for fun. I would take an article from the Trib and illustrate it for my own pleasure. One day, an editor came by my cube and saw some of my pieces.
"Where have you been hiding those?"
Needless to say, I was contracted to do the cover of a special section magazine. Shortly after—I left the Tribune to work agency side with a boutique. I had several of my illustrations in my book even though the job was for an interactive design director. You can guess what happened next. The guy interviewing me liked my digital work, but the illustrations really caught his attention. It differenciated me, and I think he liked that I could "go there".
So back to Joey in Taiwan. Sounds like it's not as easy for him to "go there" based on the educational system. But many of us can. If you're bored or in danger of losing your creative edge—don't ask for permission to create. Just do it.