I recently came across an article from Hyperallergic that made an interesting point I’ve considered but never put into words: there are unique challenges that come with being both an artist and a parent.
“In the popular imagination,” artist Daniel Gerwin writes in the article, “artists are not supposed to be responsible parents, changing diapers, and picking up their kids from school on time. Mainstream culture wants artists to be the romanticized ‘other’: shamans, enfants terrible, drug- and alcohol-fueled selfish geniuses who play the foil to a stable workaday existence. Our archetypes are the childless Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock, or Picasso, whose concerns revolved primarily around himself.”
Yet, increasingly, artists are defying this stereotype, bringing up children while trying to find their place in the art world.
Challenges for Artist Parents
Gerwin’s article focuses on the fact that artist residencies often effectively exclude artists with children, who typically can’t get away from family life for weeks or months on end to pursue those kinds of opportunities.
But he also points out that the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying shutdowns have made it difficult for many artist parents to balance those roles.
Even outside of the present circumstances, balance can be a struggle, especially since so many artists work from home studios. Good time management is key for running a successful art business, but it can be difficult to stick to a schedule when you factor in the sometimes unpredictable needs of children—especially young children.
Add in the struggles of traveling to galleries and events, and it’s quite an undertaking.
Despite the challenges artist parents face, Gerwin points out that bringing up children can be a powerful addition to the artistic experience. In his case, for example, he says, “having children has made my work lighter in its sensibility, more playful in its form and color, and deeper in its explorations.”
Many artists throughout history have even used their children as models, including Claude Monet. And contemporary artists, as Gerwin illustrates, have drawn endless inspiration from every aspect of parenting, from pregnancy to family life.
How Do You Do It?
If you’re an artist with children at home, how do you manage everything? What are your struggles? Has parenting influenced your art? Do you have any advice for other artist parents? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.