The Art of Selfishness

I’ve been working with my creativity coaching clients and have gotten onto the subject of things you love, producing art and being selfish. Producing art can mean many things. It can mean being a painter, sculptor, writer, gardener, comedian, hairdresser, designer, movie maker, actor, architect or chef. The list could go on and on. We all wish we were more creative (I hear this every day from almost everyone I come across). We wish we could produce a product that will make us proud and in the best of situations might even make us financially happy. Creatives are lucky people. They have plans and the drive and stamina to take the things they love, the experiences they’ve had, the interesting people they’ve met and the craziness of life, mix them all up in their brains and produce a product, a work of art, a book, a song, a poem, a meal, a joke that is good enough to be shared with the world. Creatives are brave. They may be afraid to show their work to others but they find ways to overcome fear and put it right out there. They know that what happens then, the public response, is beyond their control. Creatives must learn to give up control and love that unexpected, no limit, unrestrained free flowing flight without becoming terrified or blocked. Some think artists are born that way. I think artists are born with the ability to imagine creative things and the selfishness to keep themselves on a creative path. Being selfish in our society is considered a bad thing. But if a creative type is blocked by others from pursuing their dreams, or easily disappointed if barricades to their chosen direction appear, they will give up, give in and will not see their ideas come to fruition. Creatives must be selfish. They must love themselves, their talent, the ecstatic feeling they get when something beautiful and unexpected happens in a project they are working on, and really love the time they are actually creating a product in their studio or place of work. There is no more fulfilling feeling than relaxing after a productive, successful and creative day. To be an artist is to love YOURSELF first. Even with all of your faults, interesting adverse situations, good and bad surprises, shitty or good parents, crazy or wizard kids, bad marriages or good marriages, you have to somehow make LOVING YOURSELF right at the top of your list. Does this shock you? If you are a creative the work comes first along with the time it takes to make the work. If you have an ideal partner or good close friends they will honor and support your need for producing work. Creatives need to be both compulsive (about their work) and flexible to make way for unplanned surprises, adversity, tragedy and unexpected sudden changes in life. It’s these surprises and experiences that make for great and interesting work. If everything were perfect it would not be a creative world. I love to hear that “we live in interesting times”. I’m glad we do. As artists we should never feel alone. Most creatives have had difficult lives. Read about Alice Neel, Robert Rauschenberg or any other artists you admire. For meaning to shine in creative product you must have the experiences that cause you to want to express your hidden feelings. It makes us interesting. Artists are a brooding type but they love community. Talk to other artists. Read about artists. You’ll soon see that most have had to be self centered to be successful. Guard your creative time. If you need help with this hire a creativity coach. I’m available. Check out the Coaching part of this website.    

 “I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that didn’t matter—that would be my life. –Jasper Johns 1930-

Movie to watch: Adam Sandler in “Funny People”

4 thoughts on “The Art of Selfishness

  1. John Maher

    As another self proclaimed narcissist, I applaud your thoughts on the need for selfishness. We need to accept that we need a certain emotional distance from some people who can drain or energy, including even family, and that being “selfish” is what allows us to become who we are – artists- people who are trying to self actualize and lead authentic lives.

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  2. Sue Martin

    You are so right, Jerry! And I just check out of the library a book on Alice Neel. I wish I could have met her….I might even have taken off my clothes to let her paint me!

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  3. Cindy B

    Thanks for the reminder to take care of myself, and that creativity is expressed in many ways. I needed that boost and affirmation!

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