It’s a question I am asking myself this month, and one I haven’t got an answer to yet. Are creatives predetermined to be a bit more free of trappings? What do we actually need? I have recently been reading blogs about people who are rejecting the commercial and capitalist way of life, or the normal materialist way of life you could say, and I wondered if it was something that could be applied to creatives more than the regular person. Does someone who just needs a camera, a laptop, sketchpad or notebook forsake other things. Is it just a romantic dream that artists and writers are free to hop from one location to another with a pen, pencil and paper, just making the occasional call back to an editor or collector?
I have been talking to a couple of people over these last few weeks who have described to me how they’ve always dreamed of living more simply. Resigning from their job and writing or painting – it’s almost a cliche. But how many people actually do it? Do you – reader – surround yourselves with responsibilities, relationships, family, career and community, or do you commune with your creative output and class yourself as footloose? Don’t get me wrong, family, career, i-phones and cars are necessary and in no way negative, but I was just wondering whether people who find their pleasure in their art can let it fill their time and life.
I resigned from my job at the end of August and I’m not looking for another. Posts over the next few months till Christmas when my notice ends are going to track my attempts at trying to generate money from the art and writing that I love to do. I’m a pragmatist though, I have some money put aside as a safety net, and more importantly over the next three months I am trying to make my life more simple, more economical. I plan to sell some of my belongings. I can’t affect my rent or bills, but my food costs could go down, and my spending on luxuries, clothes, electrical goods etc. This means that I’m often reading articles like this, the story of Irishman Mark Boyle, who lives without money, or the blog of a friend of a friend who set out to hitchhike and couch-surf around Europe a while ago. I am, and have always been drawn to these ways of living, I don’t own very mush now, and the thought of selling it all makes me feel a little more free. I’d love to travel more but I do enjoy travelling with others more than by myself. Still I plan to continue to strip my life back, and as distractions disappear I hope art and writing will increase. The thought of not having the internet appeals to me too, but I plan to sell art, photos and writing on here so that’s counterproductive. Still the 5000 words I write now on an average week, would be closer to 25,000 words if I didn’t have a DVD player or an internet connection and that’s for sure. I wonder if this hermit-artist-backpacker role is one I’ve invented and is just a dream. I was talking to a friend recently who is in the same position as me, and we finished by saying ‘here’s to being poor and happy,’ which made perfect sense to us both at that time – but there’s poor people around the world who would exchange their life with me right now, in my current job. They would find what I find unbearable to be complete utopia.
Is there a necessity, desire or culture of stepping away from materialism and secluding yourself from what sometimes seems a earn-earn-earn, spend-spend-spend society, for creative personalities? Or is it a romantic garret artist life cliche left over from Paris of the nineteenth century? Answers below.