Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Dual-Artist Home

A thousand book exist on the creative process. Thousands more games exist to inspire. Yet, I believe the creative process is as individual as the artist and may even vary between art forms. While an artist might struggle to find a consistent creative process, there is a more subtle struggle when two or more artists occupy the same living space.

Making peace with two or more simultaneous creative processes requires communication; any kind of communication. Even the angry, shouting kind works. Most artists are passionate and actually thrive on drama (please, don't even try to lie here). So long as people aren't ending up in the hospital, a little dramatic communication won't hurt.

Notice I say nothing of patience. Patience should be wasted on art, marriage/significant relationship, and parenthood. If your significant other or family member is is the other artist-in-residence then some patience might be required. Still, I fall back to my argument that artists like drama. Save the patience for art.

If two artists reside in the same home, then things will get sticking in the following areas:
  • Space management: art supplies, instruments, equipment, practice space, etc. take a lot of room. Sometime it's hard to find room to think. Some artists thrive in quiet while other artists must make noise as part of the creative process.

  • Finances: Whatever the "experts" say, I believe the average artist can barely get their financial info into Quicken and Quickbooks. Our brains judge a good and bad year in retrospect and have a hard time prospecting the upcoming quarter because it's so "out there in the unknown." If both artists are responsible for key expenses: rent/house payment, utilities, insurance, etc. then the flow of money can become an issue that leads to the next sticky area.
  • Productivity: It's easy to pass through a visual artist's work space and see the amount of work completed in a day. The same can't be said for a writer, who most likely closes their laptop and gets on with their day.

Regular communication about in-progress/upcoming projects, current/future finances (use that hard, realistic eye), and discussing potential space issues make a dual-artist home work. Humor helps too. For instance, when I was first trying to get published I used to post all my acceptance/rejection letters on my downstairs bathroom wall. Though the number of rejections far outnumbered the acceptance letters, it made a statement about my productivity. One roommate used to go through a long list of chores she didn't get done before telling me all of the creative work she did get finished. Communication doesn't need to have agendas or an intergalactic gathering, but it does need to happen for both artists to create efficiently.

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