Try a Little Tenderness

I haven’t been printing much (okay, at all) lately. My new job involves a 30-minute metro ride, followed by a 15-minute walk each way, so I just haven’t had much time or energy to go to the studio after work.

And I miss it.

I miss printing, I miss the studio. I miss the collective energy that a bunch of artists working in a same room emit.

But most of all, I miss making things.

So I finally conceded this week and ordered hinged clamps so I can print at home. I’m now in the process of reconfiguring my unused dining nook into a little print studio. The last items I need are the clamps and an electric fan. I’ve known this for months, but for some reason I’d been reluctant to buy either. Together, they represent less than a $40 investment.

Why this resistance? I can easily spend that much on a couple of pairs of (used) jeans, or on a few drinks. I pay $12 each time I go to the studio, so I know I have that money.

It’s simple (and yet oh-so-complex): I’m stingy when it comes to supporting my art.

I’ve never been much of a hobbyist. I admit to mocking people (inwardly) who take up a hobby – photography, skiing, running – and spend lots of money on supplies and gear, only to abandon everything six months later. I vowed never to become one of those people. But the flip side is this: I’d been reluctant to acknowledge that printing is more than a hobby for me.

And then I realized something this week – I bought new (used) clothes for work, and purchased a bus pass to commute to and from my job. I get up and go to bed early so I can be productive for someone else. We all (okay, those of us who work for others) do it without questioning it.

I’m not questioning it. I like having a job that pays my rent, and that pays Jake’s vet bills. But I also like having a really vibrant creative life. I have to nurture and support that, which means I have to, well, nurture and support it.

So, in addition to ordering my clamps and setting up a tiny print studio, I’ve also decided to advertise on a couple of different sites. I’m applying to do Renegade again. I’m going to focus my energy on growing my little business in the same way that I focused my energy on finding a job. It can be done.

I encourage all of you out there to stop being stingy for one moment and buy your artist self something that it needs and wants. It can be the cheapest thing on your list. It just needs to be an acknowledgment that your inner artist is worth it. I suspect that many creatives are as frugal as I am. We prefer to improvise and make do. To get to the next step, though, sometimes we have to show our artist selves that we are worthy of some nurturing. Just do it. You won’t regret it.

p.s. I realize that the point of “Try a Little Tenderness” isn’t *exactly* the same one I’m making, but Otis Redding was a great artist, so please bear with me.

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