It pains me that people can feel ashamed of their art interest. In fact, some will hide it, or spend their whole lives creating but never share their work. They are like Vivian Maier because sharing is too vulnerable, is too scary, is too confronting.
There is too much judgment coming from different people about art interests and how our art interests “should” be expressed. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of hearing stories from people ashamed to pick up a pencil because somewhere along the way they were told it’s silly, not productive or useful, or that they were just not good at drawing.
We are at a turning point in our culture where the arts are becoming more widely accepted and valued. It means we are constantly tested by our peers, by friends, by loved ones and by the media: is our desire to be creative important?
The arts are changing as we change. For example, there is a new profession for the art interested: you can be a private advisor to collectors investing in art. While new jobs like these are popping up, people still stay secretive about their art interests: we have billionaires who secretly donate to and support the arts whenever they can.
While some art interested choose to remain secretive, we have artists who make very public statements about our escapist culture. And people listen. Banksy is a great example of using art to make political and social statements about our society. His work isn’t elitist. Everyone, whether they like it or not, can understand and engage with his commentary.
We have artists using art to help discuss issues of inequality and injustice, risking their own safety to help people see a different perspective. Other artists are trying to create a visual explanation of climate change.
We have creators using art to make a difference in the world. It’s inspiring and something to aspire to, but it’s not the only reason to make art.
Art can be a means to manage stress in our busy lives. Art therapy associations support the huge interest in coloring books for adults to slow down and practice mindfulness. We have artists seeking out other artists to build community. Art can be a space to heal and a place to meet like-minded creatives.
My mom has a wonderful group of women she meets with weekly to knit and crochet. They often select a charity to work with and create blankets for shelters, for example. Not only are these women honoring their desire to be creative, they create something that benefits others. ALL art benefits our community. Despite this, so many creatives still live with art shame.
I have a really important friend in my life who constantly demeans her artistic expression. It makes my heart so sad. No matter what I say, or anyone says, ultimately it’s up to her to make the choice to value her art as it deserves.
It’s about the inner work of self-love that let’s us open up, take risk and be vulnerable in our expression. It’s about separating from that harmful inner judge who holds us back from our best dreams, who sometimes encourages us to judge other’s work (which we can’t always help because we are so judgmental of our own).
It hurts to hear judgment from others, but remember the judger comes from a place of inner hurt and generally has nothing to do with you or your art. Show people kindness and love, through your daily choices, through your words and through sharing your art. Be the vulnerable example our society needs to accept and embrace ALL unique, creative expression.
I want all of us in this community to take a stand today against creative shaming. Artist Strong embraces the idea that we all have levels of creativity in our lives, and they are all equally important. Not everyone has the time or desire to take art classes, show their artwork, or develop art skill.
Perhaps they want to doodle during meetings but fear management won’t understand, despite research that shows us doodling helps attention.
Perhaps they want to color with their children, or get a coloring book on their own. Perhaps they enjoy decorating cakes for loved ones for birthdays or special events.
HOWEVER you choose to participate in the arts is valuable and important. And today, I want you to know: you deserve your creativity. It doesn’t matter how you choose to be creative. Take care of you: as soon as you hear a single “should” you know someone is operating from a place of scarcity. And you deserve more.
I’ve seen too many people grow small in response to uncaring, thoughtless words of others about creative interests. I don’t want to see it anymore. We choose to set the tone for everyone around us. We are the change we wish to see in the world. If we act with love and inclusivity, more people will engage with the arts and begin to realize it’s importance in this ever busy, stressful world.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Today I call on you to do a small act of kindness towards another creative in your life: write a short note to an artist friend and tell them how their art impacts you. Tell us about your friend and their art below!