Artists Can Be Like Kids Without Parents…What To Do
Most of us are at our best creatively when we’re free of insecurities, sarcasm or endless rules. This makes sense because we want to cultivate that unguarded sense of self within our processes so we can thrive artistically. Unfortunately, this childlike, consequence free energy can filter over into the rest of our work which can leave us running around like kids without parents.
Our parental figures provided us with boundaries, direction and consequences for our actions or in-actions. They were our bosses of sorts whom we reported back to. They monitored our work, allowing us to play and work when necessary. All along the way, we learn from our rights and wrongs.
Once all us bohemian artists have flown the coop, we’re left to our own devices.
For better and for worse, we’re our own bosses now. Not only do we have to rely on our own parental intuitions in order to care for ourselves but with zero context for a creative entrepreneur’s business structure, most of us are left floating away into the abyss of confusion and cyclical cycles of what we’re told is going to move us forward (“patience”, “persistence”, “luck”). The waiting game begins.
As I often say, I created this work out of a necessary sense of my own need to survive. I always wondered throughout school what the truth of post college life was going to be like. I knew I was talented but was afraid that without structure or accountability that this could all be a slippery slope. I was the definition of the “esoteric artist” and while I thrived on the idea of freedom, I also had bills to pay. I needed to act as my own parent in order to play in my sandbox and my office.
So how do we get back to our youthful yet structured days? We have to parentify ourselves!
While this exercise might seem a bit silly, I hope you’ll try it. Write down a few key pieces of what you appreciate most about your parents’ guidance. This could include overall values you’ve learned or moments when something rough happened and they stepped in to make the moment a lesson or to help heal the situation (i.e. “always say thank you”, “save your allowance”, “45 min of video games and then homework”). These very banal moments, lessons and structure can and should be part of our current world.
Ultimately, if we’re making our art in the carefree ways we would like to be, that beautiful inner child is still very present and they may appreciate the same structure they had all those years ago when they were first learning how to survive.
So go on and live! Play and create your art without worry just like a 4 year old would. Then try and balance it with some “homework” time just like Mom helped us to do.
By Joshua Morgan for Artist’s Strategy.
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