Pic: Lucy Feagins. Photo by Sean Fennessy
Firstly, that whole idea that if you want it enough - that if you are a "pure" or "true" enough artist - you will make it happen... Personally, I've never been completely sold on this.
In The Divided Heart, Sally Rippin mentions author Chester Eagle's statement that “If it matters, it'll get done. If it doesn't get done, it didn't matter enough.” I have since thought about this notion a lot!
For much of history, becoming an artist hasn't been an option for the vast majority of women. And so, if in order to become an artist a woman felt forced to abandon her children, or to avoid have any in the first place, it's not really fair measure of their desire to become an artist.
That may sound extreme, but even now women are overcoming the vestiges of that attitude (even if only within their own minds), and the biological instinct to put their children first. Of course I also know men who have struggled to hang on to their creative dreams once they have a family and feel the pressure to be chief breadwinner.
I feel like I've met many people over the years who could be great artists but just never managed to overcome their fears or their lack of confidence or the external barriers (real or imagined) to really give it a proper crack - and that to me is the ultimate tragedy. Because I know that it has and does matter to them.
These are the people I'm trying to speak to every time I talk about giving yourself permission to be creative!
Among the students I went to art school with, the ones who've made it have not necessarily been the most talented or the "truest" ones (though many were that too, of course, Clare Bowditch among them). They were generally the most confident, ambitious and determined ones. The ones who gave themselves permission - and who just got the work out there.
I couldn't help but notice how much Catherine Deveny's line "I'm not a perfectionist, I'm a completionist" resonated with people!
There are as many different ways to be creative as there are creative people. Not everyone has to be a capital-A artist (in the traditional mode), as the conference demonstrated so beautifully. Now, more than ever, art/craft can be done on any scale, and there are myriad ways of getting the work out there, sharing it around - and potentially a good living from it.
BHB speaker Lucy Feagins was also among those students I studied with back in the late '90s - and now she's one of the world's most successful and influential design bloggers. Not everyone has to be a practicing artist, as such. There are just as many creative careers based on a love of art made by others.
If the BHB conference reminded me of anything, it was the importance of living passionately, whatever we decide to do.