Recently I found myself saying the phrase “Chase the play…not the pay” while being interviewed for a recent Creative Ways Podcast. I’ve realised it’s the phrase that I use to explain my creative manifesto and the way I choose to live my life.
For most of us childhood was a time of freedom, a space for us to learn and explore the world through play. As children we needed no excuse or reason to come up with games and stories and we didn’t judge the effectiveness and success of our play by fixed outcomes. We simply enjoyed the freedom of play with unadulterated eagerness.
This idealistic view of the world is hard to keep alive in the adult world that emerges, one which requires us to have money to live. The job and the income become the way we are able to pay for the house and bills. This also gives us the ‘freedom’ to afford holidays we now need to recover from the very job that pays for them. Our ‘free-time’ is filled with hobbies and activities that cost us more and more money, and so we keep going for that next big promotion so we can afford a bigger and better car to get us back and forward from our many clubs and memberships.
Just imagine a world in which you have enough money to pay the bills, eat and live… but not much more…. except you will have much more of one thing… time… and lot’s of it! This is the life I have chosen, it’s not for everyone, and there are sacrifices, but for me it’s all about having the time to play and explore the world once more with the eagerness and excitement of the child within.
The paradox for me in the lifestyle choices I have made I find very amusing. Since leaving a comfortable career a few years back and with no real plan on how to make a living, I now have a life as an artist and get paid to do the play that I so longed for when I had a full time job. So me chasing the play has resulted in me being paid to do the things that I love to do.
Example: 5 years ago I was fearful of any sound recording devices, I simply hated hearing my own voice and would avoid radio opportunities and public speaking. An opportunity arose for me to chat with Leslie Dolphin on BBC Radio Suffolk. At the time I was unsure if I could take up the offer but then I recalled playing as a child with my brother, when we would record fake radio shows and weather forecasts on my cassette player. I decided to go for it and ended up really enjoying the experience. Leslie joked and said “You’ll get the radio bug”, and she wasn’t wrong. I went on to train for ICR FM, taking on a weekly radio breakfast show and then went on to do a weekly creative catch-up on BBC Radio Suffolk with Jon Wright… all of this for fun… and all of it play, like I did as a child. With these new skills and the experimentation and play I have had with radio I have since been offered work as a presenter for festivals like Digital Craft Festival and First Light Festival and as a speaker on creativity. All this from simply remembering that I used to enjoy playing with a cassette tape as a child. I chased the play!
I hope this gives you some insight into the life I lead and I’ll keep referring back to play in the future… hopefully you can see it in the creative decisions I make and the artworks I create.