Living an Art-Committed Life

TAKEAWAY: Living an art-committed life requires years of devotion and study, but creatives have found ways to juggle that life other professional and personal responsibilities.

Do you consider yourself an artist? Then ask yourself this: Are you living an art-committed life?

In Creativity for Life, famed creativity coach Eric Maisel describes three ways one can embrace creativity in one’s life. We can approach everyday tasks in a creative, resourceful way, engaging in “artful living.” (Everyone should pursue artful living.) We can also embrace creative output around us — enjoying live music, well-scripted films, eclectic bookstores — through “art-filled living.” (The arts thrive in communities populated with such people.)

Or a person could spend a lifetime creating in a particular “domain,” a domain to which she decides to devote herself. She can be creative as a violinist and devote herself to music. She can be creative as a writer and devote herself to writing novels. She can be creative as a research biologist and devote herself to scientific inquiry. Our shorthand for this is self-identifying as an artist, one living an “art-committed life.”

Dr. Maisel devotes his book to those pursuing the “art-committed life.” I have put myself on that path, a path from which I drifted and a path to which I am attempting to return. The creatives I interviewed in my 35-state road trip across the United States this summer were all living art-committed lives, and were a tremendous inspiration to me.

Not all of them, mind you, were like Sabra Field, the printmaker who for four decades has worked full-time at her art. A fair number of them had other jobs to support themselves. A jewelry maker and painter in Sioux Falls, South Dakota worked part time at a gallery, which displayed some of her work. A classical composer in Rockford, Illinois, wasn’t even able to work in a related field; he spends his days selling construction tools and composed in a self-built basement studio at night.

Many of these creatives I met also had family and community obligations. So many things to tempt them away from the hard work and sacrifice needed for an art-committed life. But they found ways to stay on the path while juggling these other responsibilities.

It’s not easy to live an art-committed life.

Dr. Maisel describes the unique world of the artist. It’s not a pretty picture. There are the years of effort she puts into developing her art. The personal and professional risks she takes. The repeated failures she is bound to experience. The bouts of mania and depression she may endure.

But anyone who has lived this life knows the reward. The reward of being creative. Of producing a creative work unique to you. Of sharing a part of yourself with the world.

Kudos to every creative embracing an art-committed life.

About Patrick Ross

I'm the author of Committed: A Memoir of the Artist's Road.

9 Responses to “Living an Art-Committed Life”

  1. After years of making art my full-time profession, I am delighted to no longer put that pressure on my art. After a while, each creative decision was run through my bank account and that made my art a job and not a meaning-making experience. Now I can make meaning and then make money, and I find that sequence far more relaxing.

  2. It sounds like you’ve found a good balance in your life, I’m happy for you!

  3. I loved this article and can’t wait to read more about the dedicated creatives you met on your journey. Thank you.

  4. Thank you, @fearofwriting, and thanks for following me on Twitter! Glad you like the creatives profiles, I post new ones every Wednesday, so come on back.

  5. Hi Patrick,

    I am new to creative living in that I never thought of myself as creative until a few years ago when I began cooking and my creativity just unwound and spooled out like so much thread. That woke me up to my other interests and that maybe I should pay more attention to them. Others seemed to see this as a no-brainer but I was slower to catch on. I have now come to the conclusion that yes indeed I am more creative than not and in order for me to really be happy I need to have creating – creation – in a more central role in my life. Now I’ve recently started blogging, though I’ve written all my life, and it still amazes me how profoundly satisfied I feel when I get something out there. I love it. Hats off to the creatives of the world!

    • Hi Kathryn, how fantastic that you are experiencing this creative awakening, and congrats on your blog, I vow to check it out. Hats off to you and all creatives!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] “Why All Writers are Secretly (or not so secretly) Schizophrenics,” Leah Petersen, Write Me! One of the things I love about declaring myself a writer and creative — I have an excuse for my delusions. (Related: Living an Art-Committed Life) […]

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    […] “Living an Art-Committed Life,” November 1, 2010 […]

  3. Creativity Tweets of the Week — 9/2/11 « The Artist's Road - September 2, 2011

    […] “An Intentionally Happy Life,” Melanie Spring: On setting a “goal of intentionality.” (Related: Living an Art-Committed Life) […]

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