So my tips for dating an artist is apparently very popular (at least as far as I’m concerned) and hopefully a little helpful for folks. Now, with that thought in mind, let’s flip this idea around a little bit. Artists take a lot of special consideration, but there’s no reason an artist can’t meet a non-artist, or “normal” person halfway. I put it in quotations because there really is no such thing, but to put it in perspective. Now, these are just my opinions and observations I’ve gathered from my own experience and watching others. Some of this is going to be a little soul bearing as well, so bear with me.
1. That whole “tortured artist” thing? Yeah, not only is that the biggest line of BS, it’s really hard on your significant other. If they love you, they don’t like to see you in pain and suffering for your art is just a bit much. Yes, some, or rather most artists suffer from some sort of depression. We stay in our heads a lot. It’s bound to happen. But you don’t have to suffer alone. Which leads me to number 2.
2. Talk to your significant other. Don’t just assume “they don’t understand.” That feeds back into the whole tortured artist thing and, quite frankly, it’s annoying. You’d be amazed what kinds of things you can discover by talking it out. I’ve gotten a lot of really good plot ideas from my boyfriend because I told him the issues I was having with a story. Also, because we talk, he has a better understanding of what I do and how the really hard stories can help me grow not only as a writer, but as a person and can help us grow as a couple. I know, that sounds sappy, but it’s true. You have no idea how wonderful it is to have someone tell you that making it through a hard time will only help you. It is for me, at least.
3. There’s a little voice at the back of your head that tells you all kinds of horrible things. Writers call it their internal editor. IGNORE IT! This little bastard will tell you your art sucks, quit while your ahead, you’re not good enough for your loved ones, everyone hates you, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Beat this little fella with sticks, lock it in a closet and don’t feed it. You’ll make yourself and your significant other miserable. That little voice has garnered more unquiet nights of sobbing into the pillow than it deserves. Kill. It. With. Fire.
4. Don’t let your imagination run away with you. I don’t know how it is for painters, graphic designers, jewelers, seamstresses, etc., but for writers, we have a super active imagination. It’s why I can’t read or watch horror. I’ll SEE the monster in my room with all the lights on and never sleep. But it also gives me nightmares. Not the scary something under the bed nightmares, the what if nightmares. What if I fail? What if no one likes it? What if my relationship fails? What if he stops liking me? And these scenarios play out in vivid, horrible detail over and over until I want to scream. DON’T let yourself do this. It’s bad juju.
5. Communication is a must. I know I’ve already talked about this, but all those little what ifs? You have to talk about them. Get them out of your head and out in the open where they can be burned by the sun. (I have a thing for fire. If you don’t understand, see my post about Rammstein.) More than likely, your significant other will tell you you’re being ridiculous and it will never happen, but they need to understand your fears and it’s something we all have. Artistry is a very solitary job and while we’re used to being alone, we do sometimes crave that human connection and we fear losing it. Talk to them about it.
6. Help them understand why you do what you do. What drives you? Where will this go? Is it just a hobby or something more? If you want to make a living at your art, learn the business and lay it out for your partner. Show them where it can lead. Maybe it’s not the money. Maybe it’s recognition or a sense of accomplishment. Show your normal guy or gal why it’s important you wake up in a puddle of dried paint, covered in charcoal at 3 in the morning. Why you have to stay up that extra hour to get things just right. Let them feel your passion.
7. Maybe I should have listed this earlier, but do not, I repeat DO NOT date someone who wants to be with you because you’re an “artist.” These are vile, loathsome creatures that feed off your misery and creativity. They think they have something to gain from your craft. Fame, contacts, money, whatever. These people will not make you happy. Unfortunately, there are laws against using fire against people, but you can at least distance yourself and use that awesome imagination to imagine them on fire.
8. Let them take you outside. Yes, yes, your muse or whatever is speaking to you and you have that deadline and there’s this idea you’ve had for a while, blah, blah, blah. Enjoy the sunshine! I know it’s bright, wear sunglasses. Also? Sun screen. You’ve been inside far too long. You’ll burn. But my point is, go on dates, stare dreamily into each others eyes, play Halo (or Borderlands or Call of Duty or whatever) together, go for hikes, go swimming, float the river, be inspired. Because, you see, relationships need to be nurtured. You need to spend time together, grow together. But you also need inspiration. Ideas don’t grow in a vacuum. Watch people and things and see sunsets and the stars. It’s beautiful out there and you should share it with someone you love.
9. Set boundaries. Don’t become so co-dependent and scared of being alone that you let your loved one eat up all your creativity time. You need to focus on your craft so you will have to lock yourself in a room for an hour or two. If you’re lucky enough to do your art for a living, with no day job, you’ll need lots of hours locked up in a room. Now, having said that….
10. Let them know how much you care about them and how much you appreciate their support. Your reclusive nature can be hard on a person. You don’t have to buy roses or take them out to eat, but just a little “thank you” now and again goes a long way. For a while, my boyfriend and I had a printed piece of paper with the words “I Love You” on them. When we worked odd schedules, we’d leave the paper in the other one’s home work space. Or, he hates doing the dishes, so I’ll do them when he’s home late from work. Or I’ll buy him a six pack of his favorite beer or cook his favorite meal. And sometimes, just sometimes, I tell him straight to his face, “thank you for understanding and thank you for supporting me and my work.” A little goes a long way.
That’s all I’ve got. As always, if you have other ideas, post in the comments.