Written & illustrated by Bri Simpson
"Do not fall in love with an artist. If you don't want your fall to be the farthest, hardest, most awesome loss of all control that you will ever behold. Don't want your soul to explode into a trillion parts, embark on a quest to get next to seven pounds inside of his chest, then reconnect majestically in perfected ecstasy inside of your ribs, with 500 billion pieces of your soul and 500 billion pieces of his."
This was the warning my former lover gave me early into our relationship. In the two years we dated, I heard him recite poetry and freestyle over eclectic, hip-hop instrumentals effortlessly. He was a wordsmith, gifted with the talent to string along thoughts cohesively into intricate mental pictures. However, no matter how many tales he told me, the above words have always stuck.
You may or may not have seen this quote floating around on the inter-webs before. "Support the arts and date an artist." Every few months, it creeps down my timeline again, and each time I see it I can't help but to roll my eyes in confusion. "Who the hell made this?!" is always my initial thought. It feels misleading in some ways. There should be some fine print condition at the bottom saying *this is not for the faint of hearts or for those who love the illusion of love.
I am an artist, and I know that dating me is a bit of a challenge. I'm random, a touch of scatterbrained, and my mood swings, though few, are deep as hell. Then I found myself falling for an artist, and it was all of these things multiplied by two. I was completely over my head.
The nature of this relationship was intense by default. When you're dealing with someone who is:
A.) Passionate about a craft and
B.) Dependent upon the opinions and support of others for personal and financial success (let alone actual skill/talent)
Things get real quite often. In some ways, it is a romantic and poetic partnership, but the fact of the matter is It's not easy to be an artist, let alone date one. So if you find yourself swooning over a sultry songstress, a lyricist, a photographer , or whatever their creative outlet is, it helps to be aware of a few things.
- Your perception will broaden:
The thing that makes artists so intriguing is how they look at the world. Many artists do not see it with rose colored lenses or in a black&white state. Around every corner, embedded in every experience and person they meet, there is a chance to be inspired. The goal of an artist is to create something no one else has, and then to share it with everyone. I call this "the artist eye."
Typically, artists notice things others do not in ways that are sometimes hard to explain. I always notice colors, how they blend and fold into one another. This goes for food, clothing, sunsets, and skin tones. I see the world as a vivid painter's palette, and this reflects in my own creations. My ex was good at reading body language and reading behavior patterns in people, since he performed on stage for crowds.
If you date an artist long enough, they will begin to share with you their unique vantage point, and how they perceive what is around them. In doing so, you will begin to grow and develop a new layer to life. The artist eye is also good at pointing out flaws and imperfections, and can lead to some very harsh criticism...but hopefully you won't get to that side of things.
- If its real, you will be Drake’d:
"Drake'd" is a term I throw around from time to time, simply to illustrate the point of directly or subtly calling out a former romantic interests publicly in creative works, such as song lyrics. Drake name drops all. the. time. in his music and has been doing so for years. The most scandalous one came from his Nothing was the Same album, Courtney from hooters. While I'm not for literal name dropping ( I have yet to mention my ex by name in this post, nor will I do so), Drake is surely not the first to do this. However, I do understand the reason behind it.
Artists create from not only what they see (or don't see), but also from their own experiences. Music, movies, TV shows, books, poems, drawings, character designs (you get the point). A good chunk of it was inspired by the influence or the memory of a former flame.
Creatives pull from emotions, and love (sometimes mistaken for lust) is one of the most powerful emotions we experience as humans. So whether it was 5 minutes, 5 months, or 5 years, your time with an artist may indeed inspire a new work of art.
- Show support:
One of the most sincere things you can do is be there for an artist; to come to their shows, to be a familiar face among a sea of strangers, to be there with flowers and a gentle hug to let them know that it's okay. Even when they tell you it's not a big deal if you show up, that's a lie.
IT'S ALWAYS A BIG DEAL.
So show up.
Listen to their music, hang some of their art in your home, brag about them to other people. Spread the word about how awesome they are. Plus, you win major brownie points for being a reliable patron, whether it's acknowledged or not.
- "What do you think?":
Don't be a dream crusher, but don't lie either. Artists need reassurance that their vision is getting across clearly. When an artist values your bond and feel comfortable enough, they will ask for your opinion. Not because they want someone to kiss their ass, but to get a genuine assessment on their work. So. Be. Honest. Always. Find something positive to say, and if you are having trouble understanding, ask questions like:
What are you trying to say or do?
Can you walk me through your thought process?
Tell me your thought process.
Describe to them in detail your feelings about the matter and try to find a meeting of the minds. Don't flat out say you don't like their work, or say negative comment after negative comment with no positive reenforcement or words of encouragement. That doesn't help anyone, and those brownie points you got from showing up to support get deducted. Just a heads up.
- Reality is though, you may get put on the back burner:
If someone is serious about what they are doing, not just trying to be Instagram famous or popular, but the goal is to make a livelihood out of their craft, they will make sacrifices to reach their goal, which may include seriously dating. Who can really focus at all night sessions in the studio if bae is calling and texting "WYD?"/"I miss you" every half an hour? How can you get through photo shoots with models, if boothang gets jealous that you're around attractive people all day?
I have locked myself away in my room for a few weekends at a time to paint, even if that meant I had to flake on date night. I have also waited up late at night for love to get home from performing at a show, only to fall asleep snuggling a pillow.
The point is, space to create is necessary, and sometimes you're not included in that bubble, nor do you have a say in how much space they take. If you can't handle that, then you may not be ready to date an artist.
This isn't to say that it's the most dramatic, dating dynamic out there, but it's definitely a different experience, one to be appreciated and proceeded with an open mind.
Bri Simpson is the Creative Assassin at AB+L Radio. You can see and purchase her artwork on her website brisimpsonart.com and follow her on IG @bri.simpson