Make Sure Not To Squelch Your Inner Artist


I miss my hobbies. Between writing jobs, babysitting and the antique store, my needlepoint has gone by the wayside. The last thing I collaged is sitting in a closet, and I haven’t sketched anything in a decade. I’m just too busy.

When I first met Mark, I only had two jobs, so I had a little time. I was in the midst of my papier-mâché phase when he came to pick me up for a date and walked right into a string of newspaper-covered styrofoam heads that were dripping orange paint onto the floor and, hopefully, drying.

“I’m making a banner!” I enthused. “There will be one little jack-o-lantern, then a calico pennant, then another little jack-o-lantern…”

“How many man-hours is that going to take?” he asked.

Right. Man-hours. We artists don’t think about that. It’s not because we don’t want to — we can’t. The number of hours spent on a project is absolutely inconsequential, as is the cost of materials. The drive to create is strong, and I think it’s inborn. My brother Jim is a metal artist. My other brother Dave restores European cars. My sister is an interior designer. They try to make money doing these things, but they really don’t care if they do or not. They are trying to satisfy that gnawing feeling inside them that constantly urges them to create. And, while they’re creating, the fire is fueled to do even bigger, greater, grander things.

To pay the bills, Jim is a machinist, Dave has a body shop and Pam is a flight attendant. But deep in their souls, they are those other things. The irony is, a busy person with an artistic bent will usually try to squelch it until they retire. Not only is this emotionally painful, but the time to act upon an idea is when you first get the spark. At retirement, the project may no longer be relevant… and the paints you are stockpiling today may dry up over the next 30 years.

So the best thing to do is to try to bring some artistry to your job. Not only will you be a happier, healthier person, but your job will likely benefit from your enthusiasm.

I know that if I didn’t have this humor column, my head would explode for sure. If I didn’t have my antique store to putter around in, well, I don’t even want to think about it.

Sometimes it’s not a perfect fit.

Sometimes the mother of the children you are babysitting doesn’t want you to tell them the scariest story ever at bedtime.

Sometimes the column you are writing needs a few bad words but it’s being published in a family newspaper. Sometimes writing “red rum” on the wall of your antique store at Halloween goes over people’s heads because they never saw The Shining.

We artists walk a thin line between genius and absurdity.

The point is, what are you trying to put off until retirement?

Don’t! Do it now! The world needs your artistic input, your genius and, yes, even your absurdity!

Besides, it’s fun.