Do you ever wonder if you’re living in the right place to explore your creative gifts? Do you think location even matters? Having lived in the same city in the same apartment for 22 years now, I’ve been struck by some wanderlust of late so this is has been on my mind. Is there an ideal environment for building a thriving creative career or optimizing your creative expression?
There are a lot of factors to consider when one looks at location as a creator, aside from the mythical tales of the now legendary writers gathering together in a café in Paris or painters flocking to Nice. As dreamy as it sounds to envision yourself as part of that legacy – and yes, Nice is noooice 😉 – it’s really about finding the right place for you – if there, in fact, is one.
Before you begin your search, you might want to write down how you want to feel in your home – in general and with respect to your creativity. Do you want to feel inspired? Surrounded by beauty? Connected to the cultural community? Respected for what you do? You see, I heard once – well, probably more than once – that we do things or want things because of the way we think they will make us feel. So, when you focus on the way you want to feel, which is what it’s all about anyway, you can leave the door open to the possibilities. I mean, you can say, “I want to live in Paris.” Cool. And it might be just what you need. It’s a really fun place. But – and not that this will necessarily be your reality – after you’ve moved into your 100 square-foot apartment and stepped in your fiftieth pile of dog poop you might reevaluate things. But you wanted to live in Paris, right? Or maybe you wanted to be surrounded by creativity, culture, history. And there are lots of places where you can find that that might be more comfortable for you.
In some fields, especially solitary ones like writing, you can live anywhere. In this age of technology, it is possible to live in one country and conduct the majority of your international business remotely. Heck, if you really wanted you could conduct all your appearances by Skype or something and never leave the house. In collaborative fields, like film making, it helps to live in a location where the people you are inclined to work with are going to be, where an industry is already established. Unless you’re already famous and wealthy and don’t have to hit the pavement. Then you can live on a ranch in Texas and let the job offers come to you and you just fly to set on your private jet.
Dreams aside, there are cities that are known for dominating certain creative fields – Los Angeles for film, New York for theatre, Paris or Milan for fashion. But, depending on your ultimate goals, you may not have to pay half a million dollars for a 600 square-foot flat.
There are places with thriving film industries outside of L.A. – not that L.A. isn’t great. You might not get paid as much, if at all, but you can certainly have fun getting connected, gaining experience, and learning about your craft. After a few years you might want to go to the big city but maybe you’ll find that where you are is just the right pace for you.
You see, even when we have a passion, we can choose to engage it on different levels. It can be the all-out I-want-to-be-the-best-in-the-world kind of thing, it can be an as-long-as-I-can-pay-my-rent-I’m-happy kind of thing, or it can be an I-don’t-want-to-spoil-it-by-worrying-about-making-money-so-dabbling-on-weekends-is-just-my-thing kind of thing. So, you can still participate even if you’re not in the thick of it.
Whatever your intentions, there may be locations – whether they be other cities or simply other neighborhoods – that are more conducive to pursuing your creativity. Do you need to be around certain resources? Do you do your best work in a coffee shop but there’s nothing within walking distance? You can change that. Have you put the bulk of your money into recording gear so you can’t afford a car but the public transit system where you’re currently living leaves something to be desired? You can change that. Are you inspired by art galleries and museums and your town is a little lacking in that department? You can change that. I know, for myself, even if I’m not in London or New York, I probably couldn’t live in a place that didn’t broadcast the Metropolitan Opera and other world-renowned theatrical productions in the local movie theatres. I would feel like I was missing out on too much.
In my hometown, I was heading to a concert last week – a concert which I was ultimately not allowed to attend for reasons I won’t get into but are unfortunately not at all scandalous on my part – that took place in another area of town I have been in before but rarely visit. And I was pleasantly surprised. It occurred to me that it was within walking distance of the main theatres and entertainment centres – right now I have to travel at least half an hour to go to most events which isn’t far for some people but seems kind of tedious to me. There was a lovely park across the street. There were plenty of cafes and restaurants to hang out in. And, since it’s the city’s French quarter, I would get to speak French, a desire that has been in me since my trip to Europe. So, while it’s possible a different city is the only way to cure my restlessness, sometimes a small change can make a big difference.
I wrote in a previous post about honoring your excellence, and part of that is finding your tribe, that community of people who will support you, help you grow, and think you’re awesome. And sometimes a place just feels right… or wrong… and I think it matters. I was recently musing about how you can, in fact, fit a square peg into a round hole if it’s made of something soft like marshmallow but it doesn’t mean it belongs there. We can struggle trying to adapt and morph ourselves to suit our surroundings or we can find a place that suits our natural way of being. A place where we really fit in. A place that feels like home.
If you’re an aspiring make-up artist for film and television, say, and you’ve been trying to get connected to your community – attending networking events and offering to volunteer your services and all that to get more experience – and it’s just not working, consider this. Maybe you’re going about things wrong way – you might want to assess your approach and see if maybe you’re a little too aggressive or not forward enough or just acting unprofessionally. But maybe you’d be more successful somewhere else. Maybe there’s another place where you will fit right in and be welcomed with open arms and you can thrive.
Now, not everyone has the freedom or finances to move, but if you do and you feel like you’re just not gelling creatively with your current environment, why not make a wish list of what you think you need and have some fun exploring. It’s a big world out there! And let me know what you come up with. 🙂