The starving artist
The starving artist, its a place most creatives are at some point along the way. Its the place we all start at on our journey, and for a lot its a very hard place to get out of. I feel that this keeps a lot of people out of the arts, or dismissing them as a hobby, or something that can't be relied on or sustain you. It is a scary place to be and one you often wonder about, it can make you question the path you are on.From the humble beginnings you are scared, but free. There is something that most times only later in a creatives journey, do they realize and wish we could live in those moments again. For it is in those moments when we are starving and striving just to make it, that we are truly free to be ourselves. To create what we want, free to fail because no one is watching, free to admit we are learning and don't know it all, and free to change and grow. And if you ask every starving artist where they will get the money next week to pay the bills, they might not know. But if you ask them WHY they are in the creative field they are in, they can tell you with 100% confidence. It is almost as if we are a child again, not scared to question, not worried to offend or to speak the truth of how we feel, or how we see the world. We question to learn and don't feel one bit of guilt or shame for doing so. Which leads me to another question that I find is far less talked about or asked. What happens when you begin to make it in the arts. What happens when people start believing in you, they like your work and are even proud of what you are doing, you may even have a little following. A place where you feel you know exactly what you need. You can produce to live and have began to take steps to master your craft to the point where it comes easier. For it is from personal experience I can say this is the place I found myself the least creative, the least willing to risk, change and grow. And the most scared. I am not sure how many others out there who are in creative fields have felt this, or have been "lucky" or unlucky enough to be at this point. But I am sure I am not the only one. I was a creative making a good living, making things for people that I wanted to and others appreciate. I got to live a life that most of us artists and creatives lay in bed dreaming when we start out, a place where you can do what you love and support yourself doing that. But when I "got" there, I began to hate the very thing I loved. My source of joy and passion, became resentment. The words burn out, or writers block or just pushing yourself too hard all come to mind. But for me it was more than that. It was waking up each day not wanting to do the work that others wanted more of, that when I would tell a select few how I felt, they would tell me your crazy, your great at what you do and why would you ever stop. And for me it became hard to picture letting go or taking a break. Because something happened, I became my art, I became my work, I was what I did. I was Lee Mann the photographer. Lee Mann the wedding photographer. And I feel we all to some degree become defined by what we do. But I think as a creative it can be a double edge sword. For we need to be one with our work and feel like it is a complete expression of ourselves, but here lies the trap, because the more success we tend to gain, we let how others see us and our art, begin to define who we are. And we find it harder and harder to take the risks we once did, to admit we are always learning. And that even if we are producing work that others enjoy, we are not always growing. And the moment we feel we want to make a change or need to move to another creative expression or even just take a break, it becomes an nearly impossible task. For in the years of building our skills we were also in our heads cementing who we are by what we do. But what we often forget is that we are not defined but what we do or the work we are choosing to create at the moment. But why we chose to do it in the first place. The purpose matters the medium, not so much. As a society we are so attached to titles and occupations. Hi I am so and so, what do you do? And never why. And it is the why is the most important part, particularly in the arts. And it is only by learning that we even if we are blessed enough to make it out and can carve a living doing creative work. We need to be that starving artist at heart. For it is there where we will find joy, passion for our work, are truly free. We may not want to starve as creatives, but we should always be hungry.