There’s something about being a creative person that comes from deep within your soul. I believe that every person has it in some way or another. That voice just speaks a little more loudly and clearer for some and those are the people that tend to identify as artists. My experience as a creative person and with those I have known throughout my life who are creative as well, is that life feels a little bit duller when you aren’t doing something to express your creativity.
It’s a long-standing myth that you can’t make money as an artist. Many are often strongly discouraged from following any creative passions from childhood. Dentist, doctor, lawyer – I believe those were the jobs I was presented as the only viable options by my parents. Honestly, as immigrants to Canada with a very basic education of their own, I can’t fault them for this line of thinking. After all, they came to this country in search of a better life for themselves and their future children. Of course, my sister and I would both go on to post-secondary education into different creative fields respectively, much to I’m sure, their initial disappointment. I would argue though that part of living a better life in a different country is also having the liberty to pursue jobs outside those stereotypical three and still be able to be successful. I would also add, that success to everyone means something different. In my parents’ view of the world, it means having enough money to not have to work multiple jobs and be able to afford to own a home and put food on the table. Maybe take a vacation once a year that doesn’t involve putting the family into debt. On a fundamental level, I think that’s everyone’s dream.
Perhaps it’s partially the benefit of my privilege that I have living in a country like Canada that made me feel like I even had options. I knew from a young age, though that being creative was too much a part of who I was to be able to just bury it inside me. Whether they knew it or not, the example both of my parents set in being such hard workers was also what gave me the tools to pursue four years of art school in the Visual Communications program. Make no mistake the program is no walk in the park. I remember art class being referred to as a “bird course” in high school because you could just “fly right through it,” but that was 1000% not the case during my time at Alberta College of Art & Design (now Alberta University of the Arts). I think I worked harder in those four years than I had in my whole life. I was motivated not only because I had to pay for it myself, but also because deep down I wanted to prove that I COULD have a creative career path AND not be the picture of a “starving artist” that so many like to paint.
A friend of mine beautifully said once “I believe that there is a current we are meant to follow and we try to fight the current that’s when we start to drown. We are trapped fighting it. Once you let go and go with the flow of YOUR life – That’s when the magic happens.”
His words resonated with me so much because I think if you are a creative person, and maybe even if you are not, you have felt those words to your core before. I see it in women who are returning to art after putting it on hold to raise their families. Once their children have grown older and move away, they finally have time to return to it. It’s like visiting an old friend. They may need to take some time to get reacquainted, but once they do it’s like a part of them is lit inside again. That’s not to say that having children and a family can’t bring you joy. Creating another human life is pretty much the ultimate form of artistic creation in many ways, but there’s a completely different part of the artist’s brain that is activated by creating art.
For many, art is a solitary activity that is an expression that comes from within. It’s made by you and for you. It can be as necessary as breathing. I sometimes care more about what art supplies I’m bringing on a trip than what clothes I’m packing! Of course, not everyone is that extreme, but despite your level of drive to create most have a hard time escaping that nagging feeling that something is not right if they go long stretches of time without doing it. Art has been proven to be a stress reliever and as humans, it’s something that has been part of us from our very beginnings. You only have to look at the cave drawings in Lascaux, France which are considered some of the earliest examples of human art and communication found to see that creating art with our hands is inherently part of us.
You don’t need to make art your career to be following your calling. That’s not an option for everyone for many reasons. What I believe is important though, is that you DO have to make time for it in some way or another. Creativity is such a fundamental part of human expression and to ignore it when it is a big part of who you are is to deny yourself at the core. Get out your paints, take a class, spend some time sketching outside, whatever way you express yourself creatively – just get started. Your deep inner happiness may just thank you for it.
Have you struggled with listening to creative calling? Share with me in the comments below!