Oh, to live the life of a bohemian artist. No clocks. No 9 to 5. No cable TV bills. Just a creativity carnival 24/7. Sweet, huh? Itís called living the artful life, and anyone can achieve it with the right frame of mind.
These days however, that kind of boho bliss is hard to come by if you need to pay rent, are addicted to shopping (art supplies!) or just like to keep the fridge stocked. Donít feel bad. It takes some artists and designers years before they can achieve that level of freedom, and even then Ė yes, that 9 to 5 is there as well, except it comes in stressful random spurts when the electricity bill is due.
Basically we are all in the same sequin-encrusted situation: making the most of our time - making every action count, as well as appreciating the moments that fly by so fast. Take this as your wake up call to slow things down a bit and add that bohemian spirit into your days, without taking away from your chores.
If you are serious about giving up modern life, there are ways to succeed. For the past decade, my husband and I have made a living from selling art, writing, and performing music. We knew going in that our lives would consist of cozy quarters, used cars, mucho coupons and lots of hustling for gigs. There have been struggles, but overall, itís worth it. Here are a few ideas Iíve learned that will help you live an artful life, even if you do have to "clock in" every day.
1. Saturate your space. Think of the places where you spend the most time Ė your desk at work, your computer center at home, a bedroom. How are these places decorated? Do you feel like you tolerate the environment, instead of enjoying it? Not good. Take a weekend to paint your walls in a cheery color or hang up saris or large pieces of fabric to cover the space. Take some of your favorite postcards or pictures and frame them or attach them to long pieces of string and hang them from your ceiling. If you are at work, paint a large piece of art paper that you can use to line the top of your desk. Glue jewels on your stapler. Surround yourself with objects that make you happy.
2. Come up with a personal mission statement. Ew, that sounds kind of corporate. Itís not really. This is just a short summary or sentence of the kind of person you want to be. No one should live day-to-day, just because they have to. Think about your goal here on Earth and put it into a saucy sentence. Use lots of glittery, bouncy words to make you sound like a great person to be around. Now stencil it on a canvas or wall, or use it on your letterhead or business cards. Put it someplace where you can see it every day. Soon that message will just ooze out of you so much that youíll want to go paint or do something else creative.
3. Do something unexpected at least once a day. This will make life more interesting. It can be as small as ordering something different on the menu, using a weird art supply, using a new word or visiting a relative/friend out of the blue. Going outside of your routine will give you sense of spontaneity and will bring on fresh perspectives. You can think about how you felt at those times and use it in your artwork or writing.
4. Force yourself to be creative for at least five minutes a day. Itís harder than it sounds. Itís fine to be a couch potato now and then, but you know when you have that gut feeling of guilt when you know you can be making better use of your time? Listen to your gut. Turn off the TV, crank up the stereo so it filters all through your house and redecorate your living room, go paint a chair or glue rhinestones around the doorframe to your bedroom. If thatís too much, then jot in your journal or make a collage on a page. If you are stumped on an idea, go window-shopping. Not to spend money, but to get ideas of things to make. Challenge yourself to make your own version of something really cool in the store. Go to a thrift store and buy some cheap things that you can revamp.
5. Keep a crafty area set up at all times. Youíll be more likely to make things if you have a workstation set up and stocked.
6. Fill your house with your creations. This is a way to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Hang your paintings, put the pillows on the couch, etc. Invite your friends over for a mini-art show. In fact, have them bring some of their pieces as well!
7. Have a crafty potluck. Pick a theme, like ďFridaĒ. Invite some friends over, have a dress code (eyebrows!) and tell them to bring supplies that they donít use or want. Someone else will love them! Choose a project that fits with the theme for everyone to make using the potluck supplies. Hostess sets out basic tools, guests bring a dish of food and a favorite CD. Pop in the movie or soundtrack and have fun!
8. Visit a local artist studio. Call your local arts commission to see when there are open houses. Visiting another creative personís home or studio will get your juices flowing. Ask the artist questions about their work and lifestyle. You can also check out farmers markets for artists or go to arts festivals. Heck, sign up to be in one!
9. Practice sketching or take lots of pictures. Even if it is stick people with smiley faces, try sketching what you see. Too chicken? Then take a camera with you at all times to capture kooky moments. When you get home, write funny captions to go with each one, or at least put them in a photo album. Better yet, decorate them with photo-coloring pens.
10. Use food as art. When you put your food on your plate, balance out the colors, slice up a bright fruit like a kiwi or mango and it them around the border. Always use your favorite dishes to eat off of and drink from the "good" glasses, donít save them for company - you are worth it!
11. For one day, make a batch of small art items and give them out. Make little sliding shrines from matchboxes and glue in fortune cookie messages. How about marble magnets or lapel pins? Pass them out to whoever you encounter that day. It will be a nice surprise for them!
12. Pay it forward! Karma. Itís your choice. Do you have an absolute favorite pen or pair of lucky scissors? Let them go - give them to someone else to enjoy. Chances are, your new artful life will help you find a worthy replacement!
Kathy Cano Murillo is a nationally syndicated craft columnist, artist, journalist and book author. See more of her work at CraftyChica.com or email her at Kathy@craftychica.com
I really needed this today. I ride my bike to and from work and today on my ride home, I kept thinking that there has to be a more fullfilling way to live. The hard part is sacrificing the monetary rewards of the cubicle job. But, maybe in baby steps it can be done! Thanks for the inspiration. I love your web site, especially your links. I have it in my favorites at work and whenever I need to take a breather, I peruse all the craftiness!
I loved your article! Thanks so much for providing some inspiration and affirmation! I've been busily beautifying my kitchen, so some of the above is already being implemented in my daily life. Wahoooo!! : )
comment by dumplingrrl Friday August 05th, 2005 06:59 AM
Great article thanks so much :)
comment by bessiemae Friday August 05th, 2005 07:35 AM
I've been blocked for several months, now. Bummer. Not creating. Not doing. Cranky. Thanks for encourgament to move beyond my self-imposed limitations. I think I'm gonna paint me some walls this week! Teal...persimmon...weathered parchment...
comment by bohemian Friday August 05th, 2005 10:41 AM
This is awesome Kathy~ I had as bit of a meltdown yesterday so its the perfect thing for me to be reading! I wish i could post if for all of my readers to see on my blog...not everyone is a member of "Get Crafty!".
hi violette! thank you!! you can link it - just use this link!!
comment by CraftinFool Saturday August 06th, 2005 12:02 PM
excellent ideas. thanks!
comment by acebeader Tuesday August 09th, 2005 12:33 PM
The timing of this made my day and week! In the madness of home remodeling, putting away wedding gifts, a regular job, etc....my crafting has been neglected for a few weeks, and I felt at a loss. Thanks for the wonderful ideas, I love it!
comment by lunacouer Tuesday August 09th, 2005 03:20 PM
This is kismet....thank you for the article. I just posted in my blog about the trouble I was having keeping the creative juices a-flowin'. Thank you. Sometimes, it's just nice to see that I'm not the only struggling with the couch potato phenomenon (or for me, message board addiction) :). This is now bookmarked....time to come up with my mission statement.
comment by pudding Thursday August 11th, 2005 03:43 AM
Thankyou Kathy - that was a fabulous article. I really enjoyed it and appreciate it. Thanks again!
comment by Schmatta Sunday August 14th, 2005 12:41 PM
Excellent, Kathy, just wonderful. I've been freelancing/living the crafty life for 7 years now. Just ret'd from a 2-week vacation in Colorado. It was difficult to walk away from paying jobs for that long, but felt I needed a change from day-to-day life, even if I have crafted one that allows for some flexibility.
I find there's still some fear of fun out there. My house, for instance, evokes surprise. Visitors who come here might like to see black and hot pink in their dining rooms, but there's the mother-in-law factor (or whatever fear factor abides). People who admire how I dress (or pretend to, anyway) and yet admit they could never feel that free.
Overt acts of crafty generosity, such as you describe, can go a long way to empower such folks.