Creative Anxiety

Creator Class. Found this term coined on PSFK – a blog I haven’t read since it Piers Fawkes started it back in my Adholes-lurking days about 4 years ago (myspace for advertising/design/PR/copywriting geeks) about an emerging demographic within, or perhaps separating itself from, the Creative Class. Inspirationally-monikered graphic designer Gabriel Amadeus writes:

“[Creator?] Hey, that’s me! Not that I am successful at it or anything, but I much prefer to be a jack of all trades instead of specializing in “vector illustration”, “interactive flash”, or “band posters”.

“In the past week I’ve designed flyers, banners, screenprinted shirts, welded a homemade bakfiets (dutch cargo bike), organized a scavenger hunt, planned a freakbike booth at the Oregon Manifest, and applied for a bunch of design jobs.

“None of which I got.”

What’s the difference? While the job roles may essentially be the same: being involved on some level – professionally or underground – in making new things, ideas, systems, the Creative Class still possesses a bourgeois, consumerist mentality. The Creative Class is still able to kick back and appreciate the finer things in life like slate bathrooms, organic buttercream vegan cupcakes and antique hoosier cabinets, as defined in David Brooks‘ hilarious and thought-provoking Bobos in Paradise; whereas the Creator Class equates or, more like, substitutes consuming with creating. I certainly feel that has been my paradigm, unconsciously for some time. This year, I’ve become much more self-aware about it. Now I feel I don’t even know how to relax anymore. When I was a kid, reading, drawing, painting, dressing up, making up my own typography, writing poetry, listening to music and playing piano were leisure activities. I spent the whole summer after 8th grade copying the artwork in Deeelite’s Dewdrops in the Garden, obsessing over The Beatles and playing Mozart sonatas for grins. Now, I plan outfits like science experiments and write equations to explain art projects to myself. Hell, I can’t even read a book without thinking how I might work the ideas into some new artwork, review it for this here blog, or recommend it to some other artsy type and if we’re drinking, talk about how we might collaborate around its central themes. Maybe some of it stems from guilt, knowing that my generation is the last-ditch effort to save the planet through recycling, vélocouture and hoeing around. For every 5 pieces I bring home from Savers, I grab a 6th to make something new for my Etsy shop. Parental Baby Boomer guilt aside, in short, my work and play have become so entangled and enmeshed that I frequently have trouble sleeping at night or enjoying a simple walk around my neighborhood.

It’s all about letting go, I guess. And yet, it’s kind of fun. At the lengthily-titled Tucson Emerging Leaders Creative Conversation: The State of the Arts I attended last week, a panelist posited, “We can figure this [problems within the local arts scene] out. Artists are crazy. We’re the only people in the world who invent problems for ourselves and then set about how to solve them.” This anxiety, this drive, makes me nuts but it’s also my main fount of inspiration. Anyone else feel this way about your work/play relationship?

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