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Friday, April 15, 2016

Artists' Phobias

Sometimes I think artists have the greatest number of personality disorders of any cultural group. Some art colleagues and I had an interesting discussion the other day about phobias and started tallying up how many artists we knew that also had peculiar phobias.

Unsurprisingly we realized that most artists that we knew had at least one if not several odd or peculiar phobias. Perhaps phobia is too harsh of a word. Perhaps "quirks" fit better, but some of them sure seemed a lot like phobias to me! 
Among the list included quirks that ranged from a woman who could not create art unless her lengthy hair was in a ribbon. A man who could not paint anything but boxes whenever he used red paint. A fellow who had to sweep his studio floor before working...even if he worked in his studio five times a day. The rest could go to hell as long as the floor was swept clean. Oh and we can't forget several artists who can't ever talk on the phone because it freaks them out too much. 

I've known artists who can't create unless they are naked, and artists who can't create unless they are fully clothed including socks, shoes and a hat. I've know artists that are incapable of working in a clean studio. The messier it is the more creative they are. In exactly the opposite direction I know artists who cannot create unless their space is utter perfection. 

I am not absent from this either. I freak out if my hands are dirty. I don't mean like a compulsive disorder where I am constantly washing my hands. But if I get paint on them, or clay or any of a hundred other substances, I must after a time go clean it off or else I start to feel claustrophobic. I can't wear rings, wrist watches, get temporary tattoos or paint my nails (yeah yeah, I had to do it once for Halloween and no I wasn't in drag!). I knew an artist along this line who was a singer and she absolutely could not wear anything around her neck. Even a tight collar would freak her out. 

Our minds can be incredibly perplexing. And it seems that the more complex, the more creative they are. I am sure there are a thousand case studies out there about this that are much more scientific. 

But if we are going to acknowledge our creative abilities, I think it only fair that we acknowledge our umm...quirks also. 

The interesting thing is that I have posed the question "Artists what are your phobias"  to the art community at random on many occasions and I rarely if ever get a response back. Its almost like we are afraid to speak of these things. 

If I ask an artist specifically and they know they can answer with confidentiality, then a whole plethora of quirks emerges. But speak of it publicly and the walls of silence suddenly surround them. 

I'm not afraid of my phobias (yes I have more than the one I listed), nor am I afraid of any twists or turns my brain may make. I think its what makes me a creative powerhouse. Yeah I'm not afraid to call myself both crazy and a creative powerhouse. I don't say either as a brag, but as a simple statement of fact. I'm nuts, but because of it my brain goes to places that are pretty hard to reach. But when I go there I come back with a wealth of great ideas and concepts that I try to work with and turn into amazing art. 

So stop fearing the unknown of your minds. Embrace your quirks, make them work for you instead of against you and create some kick ass art with them.

And please, if you have stories to share of your own phobias, post them to this article. I'd love to hear about them!


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