How to Love an Artist.

Via Sara Rodriguez
on Jun 21, 2014
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Photo: Martina K via Flickr

Before we begin, let’s define “artist,” shall we?

artist | ‘ärtist | noun
a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.
a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.
a person skilled at a particular task or occupation.
a performer, such as a singer, actor or dancer.

Based on these definitions, the title “artist” covers almost everyone I know.

However, I certainly wouldn’t call everyone I know an artist based on the definition in which I find the most truth—the one that isn’t in the dictionary, but is in the “you’ll know it when you see it” category.

In fact, from that perspective, I don’t know many artists at all.

For that reason, I’d like to bring up a synonym to “artist” that resonates a little more deeply:

creator | krēˈātər | noun
a person or thing that brings something into existence.

To me, true artists are creators by nature.

We’ve all crossed paths with an artist of this caliber at some point—one who brings something into existence through his or her craft or expertise in any given area, whether it’s considered an art or otherwise.

So for the purposes of this article, I will refer to artists by my own definition: curious souls born to create and devoted to the process of their art in a way that inspires the world to keep spinning.

(Note: Throughout the article, I will refer to people’s “art,” but I am not limiting artists only to those who practice a designated art. In this sense, art can refer to any field, even those usually perceived as something outside of the traditional classification.)

They’re the people who often have so much to say, but perhaps they lack a way of saying it outside of their expertise.

They’re the people who might appear a bit quirky, somewhat awkward, even a little maladjusted—and that’s because they probably are.

But they’re also the people who have the potential to change the world. They’re the people who have such a heightened perception that they can exude compassion and empathy more literally than any other being. They can speak without words and move without action, touching the lives of others by communicating the way they do best—through their art.

That being said, their creative nature can make them difficult to love sometimes.

They’re incredibly focused, devoted and even a little obsessive, often to the point of wearing blinders when it comes to their work—not as a result of a conscious effort to do so, but because they don’t know any other way.

So, without further ado, let’s take a stab at this one—how to love an artist:

1. Take an interest in your artist’s work.

And perhaps it’s important to mention that if you’re not interested in your artist’s work, then you’re going to have a really hard time with this whole “love” thing.

Why? Because the work is the artist. There is no separation.

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” ~ Jackson Pollock

No matter what artists create, it represents who they are on various levels—what they believe about themselves, what they love, what they hate, what they most desire and what they most fear.

Everything they are is expressed through the skill set they have chosen—or perhaps the skill set that has chosen them—to produce their mark on the world.

So chances are if you don’t love your artist’s work, you don’t love your artist either.

2. Understand that you’re not just one part of your artist’s life, but mixed into the bigger picture.

If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that artists often have a hard time compartmentalizing.

Try as they might to divide their work from the rest of their lives, they eventually find it’s impossible to do so because of their tendencies paired with the nature of what they do.

In other words, “work life” and “personal life” aren’t separations with which artists are familiar.

In fact, where most leave the office after the work day is over, artists never leave—and that’s because they can’t walk away from their minds, hearts and souls, locking the key and putting the day to rest until tomorrow.

The “office” is in every nook and cranny of the artist’s existence, touching every edge and crowding every corner, and so the artist is always working—even when it doesn’t seem so.

With that in mind, bear with your artist as he or she navigates the conglomerate of hats to wear and things to remember about being in a relationship (or just interacting with non-artists, which can be a daunting task in itself).

Don’t try to make distinctions for your artist. It probably won’t work. But by the same token…

3. Don’t be afraid to let your artist know what you need.

The most beautiful thing about artists is that they live to serve others—through their art and so through their lives.

Though the stereotype comes up about artists being selfish and egocentric, it’s actually quite the opposite; adding to my definition, I believe that true artists embody a sense of selfless generosity at the very core of their beings. Giving is what defines their purpose, and so their art.

That being said, because they may very well have five-million-and-seven ideas whirling through their minds at any given moment, it’s important that you communicate with them.

Sure, you can support your artist’s creative rants and escapades, but you can also give your artist a gentle tug at the ankles when it’s time to come back down to planet Earth.

Tell your artist what you need. Yes, you have permission.

“Hi, I know you’re on a roll, but I’d like to spend some time with you not working on that project,” or “Hey babe, remember me? Have you left the house this week? Let’s go out,” are both great ways to remind your artist that you love and support his/her endeavors, but that you are also an important part of his/her life that requires attention.

(Hint: By my definition, if your artist isn’t willing to consider your needs, then he or she isn’t actually an artist, in which case this article doesn’t apply to you at all.)

And lastly…

4. Be ready for a wildly deep journey of anything to which “self-” can be prefixed.

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

Newsflash: Artists get deep. With everything.

The journey of the artist is one of self-realization, self-discovery, self-acceptance, self-perception and self-reflection, which is why artists are so frequently mistaken for egocentric beings.

However, as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t the case. Just because a person goes on a thought-provoking and profoundly deep journey of the self doesn’t mean that he or she is self-absorbed; it means that he or she is self-aware.

And artists can only create due to a tireless cultivation of self-awareness. After all, they are the means of expression through which they create and share the stories they were born to tell.

So no, life with your artist will not be predictable, organized (by normal standards, anyway) or particularly easygoing.

But it certainly won’t be boring, and you’ll never have to go too far in search of something beautiful to contemplate or a miracle to behold.

Just remember that if you love an artist, you’re lucky. And if that artist loves you too, enough to let you into the world they’ve created around his or her work, you’re really lucky.

But you should also remember to please keep all hands and feet inside the car at all times—you’re in for a wild ride.



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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Martina K via Flickr


About Sara Rodriguez

Sara Rodriguez is a freelance dance artist and writer based in New York City. Her work has been published on Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog, Rebelle Society and Elite Daily. Her poetry was recently published in the debut issue of feminist art publication, Period. Sex. You can follow her on Instagram @sara_bex and on Facebook.


31 Responses to “How to Love an Artist.”

  1. paul says:

    And remember to keep writing your lover-artist all the checks she needs– as she is completely f'ing broke and too lazy to get a job, but not lazy enough to spend money she never earned.

  2. Shelley says:

    your writings always resonate so deeply with my own experiences. when I read them, I learn about myself. someone told me recently that I'm not pinned to anything—that I float. maybe that's a necessary part of being an artist, and being willing to ride the wave of inspiration whenever it comes. please keep writing—you have such a gift.

  3. One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time .. expressed beautifully! Superb. Thank you. 🙂

  4. Hannah says:

    Fantastic. Heart flutters!

  5. James says:

    And then you have sick people like, Paul.

  6. superman says:


    ..but you are the one making the choices and choosing to be used and/or with her..

    On another note, unfortunately today, artist does not represent what it once did. An intellectual, talented craftsman who worked hard , was responsible, studied nature, philosophy, worked yrs merely to arrive at a level of some proficiency, etc..

    No, now it represents the flaky, pseudo – intellectual wannabe..the irresponsible and selfish twit, who is not well read but …floating on a cloud…as these girls below…

    I suppose this returns to what you were saying…the older i become, the more misogynistic.

  7. Xandriss says:

    Awesome article. Well written and thought out. I am an artist and my husband as well (painters) and agree very much with the writer. I see much of us in this, it's definitely how we are and how we strive to live.

  8. Paul, I'm sorry that you've found yourself in such a situation. I wish you all the best.

  9. And to you, superman, thanks for reading, and I hope your faith is one day restored.

  10. Shelley, this means the world to hear and I truly can't thank you enough. Please continue to ride your waves of inspiration; maybe we're riding the same one. xo

  11. Oh Jaimy, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. xoxoxo

  12. Aw, Hannah, heart flutters are my favorite. Thanks so much.

  13. Not sure if/how I should respond to this… thanks for reading? 😛

  14. Thank you mucho Xandriss. You and your husband give me hope. 🙂 I'd love to see your work. Is there a site where I can view it? Keep creating and being an awesome human. xo

  15. AMW says:

    I don't intend to start any kind of argument but I wish to share an opposing view to yours, Paul.

    I'm an artist. I paint, sculpt and make jewelry. I spend countless hours on my crafts and run a small side business for my jewelry which keeps me very busy. I also work full time (40+ hours a week in an office setting) and help support my boyfriend who makes much less than me.

    I just want to say, your response is your situation and experience with artists, it is not everyone's. I'm proud to be an artist and proud that my boyfriend stays by my side with as busy as I am with all of my endeavors.

  16. You, my friend, are awesome. Please know that I appreciate this response as well as your devotion to your art. xo

  17. Barney616 says:

    Awesome article!

  18. Amy says:

    LOVE this one! This is so right on. Another thing I've noticed being an artist is I'm most often "in my head," and sometimes need to be reminded to come back down to earth. #3 is very important!

  19. Thank you my friend, and thanks for taking the time to read it. 🙂

  20. Amy, I know that feeling. It's pretty funny when someone brings it to your attention and you realize how spacey you must seem sometimes… when really, it's an intensely deep and intellectual process occurring beneath the surface. So glad this resonated—thanks for reading!

  21. “Hey babe, remember me? Have you left the house this week? Let’s go out,” – Oh god, this made me feel so bad. As a part-time librarian and full time painter, I not only forget what day it is, but get so absorbed in my work that I lose track of people. Thank you for writing this. It's not easy being an artist. I get a lot of people who talk down to me…and my commitment to it has cost me promotions and jobs, but it's my chosen calling. It's not like we artists sit around an whine all day. I'm in the studio 40+ hours a week. I haven's seen a movie in years. Every piece of clothing I own has paint on it. I sometimes work so long I forget how to communicate with others….but's it's damn rewarding being an artist. I get to make things.Beautiful things that make me weep with joy. I get to make others sigh and think about nature and the human body. I get to make the world a more beautiful place. For me, there is no greater calling than that.

  22. Xandriss says:

    Thank you, Sara! Much appreciated. Here are links to my facebook fan page, blog and my husband's facebook fan page. Keep writing, lady, you are great. Your style is poignant, rich and meaningful. Kudos.

  23. Christina, I get that, having people talk down to you for… well… doing what you do. But what you just wrote—all the reasons you do what you do—that's pure love right there. It's so much a part of you that there really is no other way to be. You are an artist in every way and that won't change, nor should it. It's a beautiful thing, being so deeply in love with the world you create that you can't imagine a greater calling—even with all the inevitable downfalls that come as a result.

    Keep creating. Keep doing what you do and loving every second of it. And thanks so much for reading. xoxo

  24. Adam ward says:

    I just like to say Sarah Rodriguez, thank you for what you do here. You create a social atmosphere for others to be more in touch with oneself, an provided understanding to others that are the necessities for life in itself so thanks.— I just happened see one of you blogs. Don’t ask me how then we’ll I thought I always was a bit of a artist, maybe a bit of a philanthropist, an would give you my thanks.

  25. Cartist says:

    No one around me understands me.

  26. Lokken says:

    from a 30+ year artist. People are laughing. especially at the stupid blue-painted girl.

  27. Sara,
    Thank you for writing this. I am an artist. I've worked for years as an office manager, crisis hotline supervisor and occupational therapist. But, always finding time to follow my passion to create. Now, I'm able to work full time as a professional artist. I'm either in the studio creating art, online marketing or in the car transporting. It is work, it does pay well, but to stop would be like holding my breath.

    Thank you for articulating what an artist is with such clarity.

  28. Cilla says:

    I am a hobby painter, who gives my work away to those who fall in love with my art. Thank you for this artical it's me to a tee.

  29. Tudor says:

    I don't know who you really are, but if you're not too in love with your artist, hit me with a reply via e-mail.

  30. Taka says:

    everything was written and express well i totally agree with you. however, the "hint" part at number 3 kind of rang a bell in my mind/art world. i am an artist for 7 years now and i have a different approach to my art. lets just say that having a partner in my world is only a bonus but i wont compromise my time every now and then for a demanding partner. i love my art more than anything and i respect anyone's two cents worth on it but since when are we so sure labeling "real" artists from those who arent just because another being is involved? its just that with or without a lover i am loyal and forever will remain loyal to my art. i wont let anyone ruin what i really am just because they have love for mortals. art and love are different. love might be just as plain as it is. but "love" in art isnt just like that, it is passion and with no remorse i can slit my lover's throat if they ever ruined my masterpiece. just sayin

  31. marielsofia says:

    where can i find you on twitter!! your writing is heaven to my soul.