By David Chung
Being a parent and balancing your not child-related passions is incredibly difficult, especially at the beginning. Take a look at @theultrachung’s advice on how to get back in the art game after you bring home your bundle of joy.
Would you like to know how to make personal art while juggling being a first time parent? If any of you artists out there are about to be or have recently become parents for the first time, I just wanted to give you a heads up in what to expect. SPOILER ALERT! IT’S GONNA SUCK!!! You’re about to enter the most miserable, yet happiest, time of your life for the first couple of years. For the artists who have been parents for awhile now, I’m sure you’ll be able to relate.
Now, I’m speaking specifically to artist parents here. Why? Because we generally don’t live like normal people do. The creative mind never stops working. Even when we’re relaxing, our minds are thinking about art in some way, shape or form. Whether you’ve been aware of it or not, this is probably how you’ve lived ever since you’ve decided you wanted to make art professionally/personally. I’m sure over 90% of you have pushed through countless overnighters just to get a deadline done without batting an eyelash. And I’m sure you’ll take on countless more. You’re artists, this is how most of us live.
But now that you have a little one on the way, I bet a lot of you have probably thought to yourself, “I don’t sleep already, I can probably handle staying up with a crying baby all night! And while he/she is sleeping, I’ll get some art done!” If you’ve thought this, congratulations! You’re an idiot. You’re not going to have any time for yourself anymore, c’mon! Unless you want to be a piece of garbage and leave your new family, you’re going to spend every piece of energy loving and caring for that stupid little baby! I mean, she’s beautiful and all, but c’mon…babies are naturally stupid. Don’t act like you disagree.
During the first year and a half of my son being born, I found myself going into a depression because it felt like I was giving up on my past self. I was burnt out and no longer had a passion to create art anymore. Every time I tried to draw or sketch, I’d get artist block. It was almost as if the harder I tried to force things back into the way they were, the bigger the wall my brain put up. Really, all I wanted was for my kid to “SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO TO SLEEP!!” Now here’s the real bit of advice I wish I was given during the 465th night in a row of a sleepless night, and that advice is that this isn’t going to suck forever. And as if a light switch turned on in me, I just said “eff it.” I stopped caring that I couldn’t work on my own projects. Instead, I just started trying to appreciate my son growing up.
Even though I had artist block, I always kept my sketchbook by me just in case. Every once in awhile I’d get a hint of an idea. I would attempt to sketch something out, but it was like trying to find a radio station while driving through the mountains with bad reception; only short bursts of incomplete songs would come through. Ultimately whatever I tried to draw would just come out as a blurry, fuzzy unformed mess as if my hands couldn’t receive the signal from my brain clearly enough to put something down on paper. It was a good practice though, it got my creative muscles working again. And within no time, I was sketching with confidence again. This lead me into wanting to try out water colors, which lead me back into wanting to paint with acrylics, which is making me want to get back into sculpting, all of which is reigniting my passion to create again. By the way, I’m not being paid to say this, but the Pentalic Traveler 4×6″ Pocket Journal is my all time favorite sketchbook. I highly recommend this sketchbook due to it’s size, thickness and flexibility. But due to it’s portability and discreteness, it makes it the perfect sketchbook to carry with you in case you get that quick idea. Man, reading that back again, if you just replaced the word “Sketchbook” with “Toy”, I very well could be talking about a sex product. I can’t guarantee that you’ll have as much fun as a toy, but I still highly recommend it. The Pentalic Traveler 4×6″ Pocket Journal.
ANYWAYS, so if you’re planning on having kids or you just had a kid, I don’t want you to give up hope. It’s going to suck and it’s going to be really difficult. But realize that this won’t last forever, learn to slow down and it’s totally cool if you’re taking a break from creating for a little bit. When things get good again, you can pick it back up. Just make sure you keep your journal with you to scribble as much as possible, because when the ideas finally come back to you, you’ll be ready to go!