When some people are born with artistic talent, and you’re not one of them…
Maybe your older sister has the dancer’s grace and body, or sings the lead parts in all the local or college plays.
Maybe your brother is the musician, and opened for Radiohead at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.
Which means that, like perfect sponges, they have absorbed all the creative genes in the family, leaving you with an appreciation for SNL and a wicked three-point shot.
Art and creativity, then, might be a painful topic.
Something you’ve always wished you were gifted in, or could talk about, but never did, simply because your parents could only afford piano lessons for one child and not the other, or your sibling was better at everything, so why bother?
You can only handle a wet towel thrown at your face for so long.
Coping with a Lack of Creative Genes
There’s little chance that you’ll ever own much fame by being related to your gifted sibling. And isn’t creativity just a fad anyway? It seems like the domain of every Mac-using, coffee-drinking, skinny-jeans-wearing hipster from Martha’s Vineyard to Portland.
So, why should you care?
But the truth is, you do appreciate the arts, and wish you could participate in them somehow.
Maybe you’re taking ballroom dance classes, just because. Maybe you’re the family cook (and no matter how gifted your sister is at oil painting, she can barely microwave a Lean Cuisine). Maybe you dabble in leather work or carpentry because these things bring you joy.
No Artistic Talents? Here’s What You Can Do
There is a place in the arts for people who may not possess all the glittering talents of their family members and friends.
In fact, you’re needed now more than ever.
Why? Because in the end, all art needs patronage. Artists know that they can do nothing without the support of their friends, family, and fans.
Here are just a few ways in which you can uniquely support the arts:
- Host movie nights, music nights and/or book clubs in your living room. There are plenty of artists in the world, but creatives need people who are willing to facilitate and patronize their work. If you enjoy throwing parties, give a soiree where the main act is your guitar-playing friend. Ask guests to donate to their craft. Provide food and music, and a great atmosphere. Or, host listening parties and movie nights. Invite friends over to listen to a new album or watch a film, and facilitate discussions at the end.
- Volunteer at your local theater or music venue. If you’re a great appreciator of music or theater, offer some volunteer time. Performers rely heavily on stage workers like costume designers and soundbooth techs to turn vision into reality.
- Support local artists. Go to shows. I know this may sound like a trivial way of supporting the arts, but the truth is, a crucial component of art is the experience of humans sharing their work with other humans. This experience is often simple. Go to local shows. Pay for albums there, rather than ordering or downloading them. Buy local artwork at the annual art show. Get a season pass to the orchestra. Not only do you edify yourself – you keep these beautiful and important things going.
- Connect friends and family to great art. Enthusiasm is powerful, and your excitement is often contagious. It’s also the most appealing intro to anything unfamiliar. If you come across an artist whose work moves you, share him or her with your friends and family. If it’s an album, host a listening party with hors d’oeuvres and drinks in your living room. If it’s a sculpture, bring your friend to see it, and tell him/her all the reasons why you love it. Chances are, if they s/he doesn’t like it as much as you, they will still be able to appreciate it, and come away with new perspective on something they hadn’t considered before.
- Write to artists whose work has moved you, and thank them for their work. Remember that song which broke your heart so wonderfully, that you played it on repeat for the rest of the afternoon? Do the artist a favor. Write! Tell him or her why you loved it, and the impact it made on your life. Artists need to hear that their work is moving other individuals just as much as anyone else needs support and affirmation.
- Have children? Encourage them to make things. I hate to sound cliche here, but the phrase, “our children are our future,” is obviously true. If you have children, encourage them, from a young age, to create, and to make. Take them to art galleries, museums, and shows. Encourage them to learn some kind of trade, and to strive for perfection in a craft. If you have a trade or a craft yourself, teach them. Whether they actually follow in your footsteps is not as important as their appreciation of the creative process which leads to the perfection of a work.
These are just a few ideas. If I left any out, or if you have any others, please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear them.
Joseph is a featured Humane Pursuits columnist. He works as a marketer in West Chester, PA, and writes music, articles, and the occasional short story.