I am definitely in possession of a troubled artistic heart. And it does come with a price. What I am about to tell you is not easy to put into words, but as I have come to realise after talking to fellow musicians, I am not alone. And I am hoping the same knowledge might help some of my artistic friends, or people who might be in a relationship with an artist.
As an artist, relationships can be hard. Of course, this is not something unique to just artists, but I can only speak from my personal experiences. As a musician, our work does not fit into the traditional 9 to 5 lifestyle. We work evenings, and weekends are our busiest time. And that is just the performance part. On top of this, we need time to create, practice and promote. This is all work that might go unnoticed, and unlike live performance, we don’t see clear ROI from a lot of it until sometimes years to come.
Travel is a big part of the job, and sometimes we are away for a long time. It is not a holiday. It might look nice from the pictures, but most of the time we see very little of the places we visit. We are there to do a job, and the job comes first. The long hours of travelling are exhausting, and between late night shows and early starts sleep deprivation is a genuine hazard of our occupation. Days off on the road means we are not working, which means we are losing money.
We don’t get holidays unless we take time off from playing shows. And if we are not playing shows, we are not making money to pay for the holidays.
All of the above are sacrifices we are willing to make because inside of us we have a burning desperate need to create. It is what drives us. It is our purpose. If you take this away from us, we are just a shell of a person we are meant to be. Many of us are willing to sacrifice a lot of “the normal” things in life to be able to do what we do. You might think we will regret someday not going after these “normal” things, and you might or might not be right. But I know for sure, not being able to create we will regret every single day for the rest of our lives.
This makes relationships a challenge. If you don’t have a deep-rooted passion for creating, understanding our willingness to sacrifice everything for it can be hard to understand. It does not mean we love or care any less. In fact, we tend to be romantic fools. For crying out loud, our job is to dissect emotions and try to express them artistically. To do this, you need to feel deeper and harder than your average person.
Also, our art often is a form of self-healing. We all have baggage that we tend to drag with us. Us artists regularly communicate this personal turmoil through our art, and in a way work our way through it. Art can be a great healer. How much of the personal turmoil will affect our relationships is another story.
We are lovers and givers, but all of that can come with a price. If you can put up with our complex, yet simple personalities and the crazy lifestyle, artist in love can be some of the most devoted partners. Whatever we do, we tend to immerse ourselves into it.
As I am writing this to you, even though I am on the mend, the wounds of another deep relationship ending in turmoil pretty much purely because of my own unwillingness to waiver from the path that I believe I was meant to walk are still fresh in my mind. Again, I believe it was better to have loved and lost than not giving life a chance to happen. Told you we are romantic fools.
To my artist friends, I ask of you one thing, honesty. Be true to yourself. Only you understand how much making art means to you. But also be honest in your relationships. Do your damn best to explain what all of this means to you, what you are and are not willing to sacrifice for it. Life has a funny way to change along the way, and as humans, we are very good at adapting. What you might not be willing to sacrifice today, might change in the future. Just remember to be honest with yourself and communicate this to your partners. And take care of that troubled artistic heart.