Shad: Consider this when you romanticize the life of an artist

What does the creative life really look like? Is it better than living any kind of life creatively?
Shad winds down the week with thoughts on what a creative life really looks like. (CBC)

The creative life. Creating, for a living. We talked about it a lot on the show this week and it's something many young people think about and strive for.

Folks often romanticize this kind of life because, for whatever reason, we tend to equate the creative lifestyle with a life of freedom. But the relationship between creativity and freedom is not so simple.

Journalist Leon Neyfakh envied many things about his favourite artist, Juiceboxxx and I'm sure many of you might look enviably upon the lives of some of the other guests we've had this week. 

Like Laura Marling, who's been a major label recording artist since before she finished high school. 

Or Patrick J. Adams — the breakout star of TV's Suits — who left Toronto in his teens to pursue his dreams, and has never looked back. 

But all these guests revealed that personal freedom isn't as simple as finding a way to make art for a living. 

Leon Neyfakh learned that the free-spirited artist he looked up to for years was actually a complicated mix of pride and self-doubt. 

Patrick J. Adams talked about being overjoyed by his hard-won success, while at the same time proudly announcing that he now works 15 to 16 hour days. 

And Laura Marling actually had to give up music for a time in order to regain her sense of purpose and direction in life. 

We can easily be seduced into thinking these typical adult responsibilities and struggles are burdens: things in opposition to the kind of freedom we should strive for. But a sense of responsibility and an increased workload are part and parcel of success — even, and perhaps especially, for creatives. 

It's a paradox: while freedom is always the ideal, creativity always involves parameters. Rather than acting in opposition to freedom, responsibility, hard work, and even certain constraints are actually the conditions under which creativity tends to flourish and freedom is more deeply felt.

Not that I don't advocate making art for a living. It's been one of the great joys of my life. But I've learned that personal freedom is less about working for one's self and more about avoiding the trappings of being self-serving.

It has less to do with being creative for a living, and much more to do with how creatively we live.

— Shad