A show of hands; who here self-identifies as a creative?
My deepest condolences for those who raised their hands. No…but seriously, us creatives are a funny little bunch. When it comes to our creative careers or hobbies, we face a peculiar set of conflicting, and often confusing, needs and desires. These tend to fall into three categories: Creativity, Capitalism and our constant need for validation. A ménage à trois sent straight from the gods. But not the good kind. This kind leaves you wanting more…validation. And if a healthy mindset surrounding our craft isn’t reinstated, it could leave us completely creatively turned off.
So, what exactly is this creative throuple I’m in, and why is it an issue?
From the clowns to the beauty bloggers, no matter the craft, there’s one thing that unites – a desire to express…(and a beat-up beauty blender). This part of the throuple is your Creativity in the purest sense. We’re talking about that intrinsic feverish push that creative folks have to give birth to ideas. In this union, creativity is definitely the wholesome broody one. And without it, we would struggle to maternally guide out our idea babies into this cruel, cruel world. Being creative for the sake of it is a fundamentally built-in part of my life. Whether that’s painting, writing or doodling on my Instagram pics – I just love it. However, there are a few more incentivising reasons we have to create.
Let’s pause here and have a quip of interactivity, I’d like you to ask yourself why you create that thing you just love to create? Be honest.
This whole article is now going to be my personal answer to that prompt. To clarify, the form of creativity I’m now speaking on, surrounds the “Instagram influencer” bubble. But it can really be applied to any craft.
Aside from the pure love for creativity mentioned above, there’s a part of me that creates in order to access a particular lifestyle. You know the one. The “successful freelancer” nirvana. The land of milk and honey…and #gifted. It would be disingenuous for most creatives to entirely negate the less virtuous pretext for creating. Especially in today’s societal context where creativity is, more so than ever, a monetisable and lucrative expertise. Ladies and gentle-fellows meet our second throuple member – Capitalism – the saucy gold-toothed minx. Oh, honey, she’s a shady lady. If left unencumbered and unexamined, our capitalistic tendencies can really wreak havoc on our creative expression.
For the longest time, the idea of capitalising from my craft made me deeply uncomfortable. It felt dodgy and disingenuous. Almost like I’d be selling my soul and subsequently corrupting my idea babies. Who will now exit the womb rocking a fully grown ‘stash, ready to do business?’
But as I matured, I realised that that mindset will only result in me becoming that broke, starving artist trope and/or unhappily doing a “real” job that I find no fulfilment in!
More importantly, I realised that I’ve been thinking about it all wrong. If you are a creative that has decided to monetise on your craft or are just taking it a bit more seriously; the following words are for you. Creativity and capitalism aren’t mutually exclusive. You just have to be honest with yourself about your various motivations, and try and give the mic to the incentives that are the most authentic, fulfilling and sustainable. If fame, status and the promise of a sexy press trip to Devon is your core reason for creating, it’ll be very difficult to sustain a happy and healthy relationship with your craft. You’ll most likely burn out…and just book a trip to Devon anyway. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with setting milestone goals like a paid post or getting invited to a press trip. But it’s important to note that materialism is rarely ever enough to self-motivate a creative and their craft long term.
Now for the third member of this complicated triad; your constant need for validation. This needy lover constantly asks “do I look good in this?”, even when stark naked. A core incentive for creating is the natural desire to resonate with others. Comedy, art, poetry, (etc) all try to do the same thing – connect. Extending a metaphorical olive branch into the void just hoping another hand out there, somewhere, understands. Plus, when you get a bunch of people giving your creations a thumbs up, you feel affirmed in what you are doing and sometimes it can be an indication that you’re doing something right! But…not always. Social consensus isn’t a science! It can’t tell you what you should or should not be creating and neither should we really be looking to it as a compass. Art is personal. If validation is the only driving force for your craft then the wells of your creativity are set to dry up. Instead of enslaving your creativity to the algorithm of likes it’s much more rewarding to let your intuition lead!
How to maintain a healthy throuple?
As it stands, your three-way rests on a three-way weighing scale. A love for creativity rightfully deserves the most attention from you. Whilst capitalism and your need for validation should be limited. Here are some ways for you to regain a rightful balance when it comes to your attitude towards your craft:
- Stepping away from your craft
- Writing and evaluating your real motivations
- Learning from authentic creatives
- Reading books on the subject of creativity
There’s absolutely a way of marrying together these three components that doesn’t siphon away the lustrous beauty of your craft. But it takes work…who said being in a throuple was easy anyway?