Creatives in Love

What draws one person to another? Is it true opposites attract, or do we look for a little bit of ourselves in our partners?

Any attempt to quantify what connects two hypothetical hearts is beyond me. But I couldn’t help but observe on my cross-country U.S. road trip interviewing creatives that of those who had significant others, their partners frequently were highly creative as well.

Take Elliot Mazer and Diana Haig. I was two days outside of Reidsville, North Carolina, where I was scheduled to interview Elliot — the legendary music producer of artists such as Neil Young and Janis Joplin who was involved in the birth of digital music mastering — when he called with a suggestion I also interview his wife Diana. I quickly learned that she was an accomplished songwriter who is now an author of travel books allowing the reader to walk in the footsteps of historic figures.

My first thought was of the time this would add to my trip, not just conducting a second interview but the additional video editing (I edited the films while on the road, posting a 5-minute film, a state a day, usually about 3-4 days after the 60-90 minute interview was conducted). But I said yes, and was delighted to capture on film a dynamic and charming creative every bit the equal of Elliot.

A couple of weeks later I was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to interview Andrew and Tara Barney. Tara is an artistic polymath who specializes in jewelry-making and knitting. Andrew is a landscape painter. I filmed them together, largely because they seemed almost like one, jointly marketing their art on their Red Door Creations web site and intimately involved in each others’ art. (When Tara designed a new line of jewelry made with colorful assortments of corn, Andrew drilled some of the tiny holes in the kernels.)

Tara and Andrew were friends for years, encouraging of each others’ creative passions. You must watch their video to hear their romantic story and see how lovingly they interact.

There was one other parallel I would draw from these two encounters — generosity of spirit. In both cases, these creatives invited a stranger into their homes and shared the stories of their lives. And both sent me on my way with goodies. Tara gave me a basket with a corn necklace for my wife, a print of one of Andrew’s landscapes (which I’m looking at on my desk as I type) and banana bread. Diana ran out into the rain after my car as I was about to drive away, blueberry muffins in hand. In both cases the food was my manna as I wandered long stretches of road with no food options in sight.

Do you know creatives who have found in their life partners another creative spirit? Do you look for creativity in a potential partner?

About Patrick Ross

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

19 Responses to “Creatives in Love”

  1. A lovely post, Patrick – though I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced the opposite: that there was only room for one creative in their relationship. I’m actually performing a version of this story (http://tinyurl.com/modrnlove) at the Minnesota Fringe Festival in August, and would be interested in that discussion, either here or in the comments on own post – though it’s an old blog, not designed w/ savvy social media in mind.

    • Hi Paula,

      This was certainly something I was thinking about in writing this post. Some creatives I know do seem to be with what one might think of as a non-creative, i.e., someone not pursuing art as a career or hobby but rather doing left-brain work. That balance can go well in terms of running a household, paying bills, etc., allowing the creative to pamper his/her right brain. I suspect, however, that close examination of the so-called non-creative would find that individual still was a creative thinker, even if that creativity didn’t express itself in art. Perhaps it was a creative approach to practicing law, or to building a business, or maximizing human resources talent as a manager.

      It’s a fun thought exercise, isn’t it?

      I’ll check out your festival link.

  2. Oh, very interesting. I like Paula’s question up there, too and will watch this post for discussion. I see both sides – I think in some ways only another creative person can understand another artist in ways that can be invaluable in a relationship. On the other hand, I’ve certainly experienced that phenomenon of there not being enough room for both artists. It can be nice to have the grounding of someone who is not also a writer (I use writing, because that’s all I know).

    So far, neither road has worked out for me so I guess it’s still an open question๐Ÿ™‚

    • I like the way you put it, “not being enough room for both artists.” You see that in non-romantic collaborations, McCartney and Lennon come to mind. It’s possible that as in any relationship the partners have to occasionally take turns, allowing one to be in the forefront and the other in a support role, switching when appropriate. It can be hard, however, for a creative to step back, especially if the creative perceives it as a stifling of their creativity.

      As to your final point, Sion, I’ve had too many failed relationships in my 43 years to look at my own examples as a guide!๐Ÿ™‚

  3. My [former] father-in-law said it best. In a wedding sermon, of all places. “It says in the Bible that the two shall become one. The question is, which one.” Another friend of mine’s relationship broke up with the phrase “One of us has to be Alice [B. Toklas]” – although even she got to write a cookbook.

  4. Funny, I find myself drawn to some other creative people. (I was married – to an engineer – so didn’t consider taking any action at the time). Because of my health my main concern about being with another creative is … making finances work. I suppose if I find someone who is already successful in his or her field, I would be willing to consider. But I have to make sure I take care of my well being first and foremost.

    I will look forward to viewing the videos a little later. Must get on a call for now.

    Creatives in Love … how awesome that sounds …๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks for the comment, Amy. I know you, of course, are a big proponent of popping the myth of the starving artist. Your mention of focusing on finances makes me think of another stereotype, that the artist is creating and the partner is making money. A creative mind finds creative avenues to income!

      • Yep! And … this creative mind can be bone-crushingly tired or have a virus that keeps me bedridden for weeks if not months, which tends to get in the way of creating income at times. (I’m working on how to shift that, how to create residual income over time.) I would need to find a strong creative person who can generate steady income flow, because it is kind of touch and go for me at times. I’m creative as hell and will work hard to create income and … I can only do what my body will allow. Therein lies is issue for me.

        Get me a cure, I will kick serious income a** 24/7! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Interesting notion Patrick. I believe that finding creativity in another can be inspiring, for one, but it’s hard to define because everyone is creative… it’s just a matter of finding someone who uses their creativity that’s the trick.

    Ultimately I think we all search out someone who is interesting, as we can find inspiration from their experiences as well.

    Though there’s much, much more to relationships than that, of course.๐Ÿ™‚

    • There’s more to relationships than can ever be captured in a blog post!๐Ÿ™‚

      You’re right about “uses their creativity” as key. I’ve known a lot of people who have abandoned their creativity, to the point they don’t believe they have it. Some of those people are even threatened by the creativity of others, perhaps out of frustration for what they perceive they don’t have.

      We all start out in life creative, some hold on to it, embrace it, and exercise it more than others. We can always rediscover it, of course, and that is the idea behind this blog!๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I’m afraid I don’t have anything enlightening to add to a conversation that has already taken fascinating dips and turns. But I do have a question: when is your book about the journey coming out? I love hearing about the details behind the interviews almost as much as the interviews themselves.

    • I love hearing that enthusiasm, Charlotte! I have an agent shopping a book proposal with no way of knowing if anyone will bite, so the only answer I can give is “Who knows?”

  7. Love this! What a great post – do I see a series in the making?๐Ÿ™‚ My bf is a composer and musician – very supportive of my writing. We find that we have the same process when we write, even though he is writing orchestral notes and I’m writing prose.

  8. I’m a live-out-loud creative married to a live-out-loud realist who is a closet creative. It works. I think the key is appreciation and understanding of the other, whichever color they turn.

  9. I happen to know both of these wonderful people and this is a great interview. Both Elliott and Diana are wonderfully humble, yet supremely talented. A rare combination indeed.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What is a Creative? « The Artist's Road - May 20, 2011

    […] mind has returned to the above question this week after getting feedback on my Monday post, “Creatives in Love.” I had noted that some creatives I know choose fellow creatives as mates. But what does it […]

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