We had the good fortune of connecting with Evangeline Crittenden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Evangeline, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Many years ago, I herd about something called “Four Burner Theory” by James Clear. Essentially, the theory is that there are 4 main “burners” on the stovetop of your life; Career, Family, Friends and Health. James states that in order to reach your full potential in a given area, you must fully cut off one burner, and in order to be as successful as possible, you have to cut off two.
This struck me as particularly harsh math, but it seemed to make sense. Each of those four categories have great potential to take up time, and time is the most non-negotiable resource for getting things done. I spent a long time feeling a vague lingering sense of guilt that I hadn’t ‘cut off’ any of my burners, and I worried that my unwillingness to make such a huge sacrifice was somehow a hindrance to my success as an artist.
But recently I have come to with a new framework that I believe still allows for a sense of balance without the harsh sacrificial mindset. (This framework was introduced to me by Mandy May Cheetham during a meeting for The Pickford Collective, an artistic collective focused on creative time management.) It is called The Runway Theory. Each project or area of focus is like an airplane, taxiing on a runway. When a a project is on the runway, about to take off, it is at the center of attention. There may be other planes waiting to become airborne, but only one can take off at a time. Once the airplane is in the air, it still requires fuel and attention but the focus is free to move on to the next airplane that is ready for takeoff. You can’t have too many planes in the air or you risk crashes, or burnout, but it is possible to have more than one thing going at a time as long as you prioritize within that.
My creativity is like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from many different boxes. It can’t be contained by one particular genre or outlet, nor should it. I act, sing, write, direct, edit, play guitar, produce, design costumes…the list is long, I know. And sometimes when I am in a position to sell myself as an artist, I fear that I will not be taken seriously in one arena because I have so many other avenues. But I believe the myth that having more than one creative avenue is detrimental to artistic freedom. Many artists know how to do more than one thing, and do it well. And many artists know how to not only find balance within their various creative practices, but outside of them as well.
I think it’s helpful to learn how to focus on and appreciate whichever “airplane” is on the runway at a given time. For example, if you have young children at home, that might be the plane that’s on the runway for awhile. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have an artistic plane in the air again, it just might be that’s the one that gets the attention for a given time. And if you’re really busy creatively, it might take a toll on your social life. But rather than focusing on all the planes that are waiting to take off, I think it’s most fulfilling to just celebrate and focus on whichever one is on the runway. I believe the way to achieve a sense of balance is to understand that “balance” is achieved over the long term, and things might be a bit out of balance for awhile during a given season. Appreciating whichever area is flourishing at any given time is a way to enable the possibility of balance in the long term.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I was recently trying to find a neat little bow to tie up my creativity with, and found (again) that it was impossible. But I like the term “Silver Linings.” I think my work contains a depth and sadness to it, while also extending into whimsy, imagination, playfulness, color and joy. My life experience has shown me that joy and pain are constantly circling each other, like a double helix. I like for my art to reflect this.
When I was a child, I had a poster in my bedroom with a little cartoon dragon leading a cartoon unicorn over a bridge, and the caption said ‘If you follow your dreams/In whatever you do/It won’t be too long/’Till they start coming true.” I guess if I had to describe my path, that’s a suitable image. I’m a cartoon dragon and cartoon unicorn, and the brave, dragony part of me is leading the magical, yet uncertain, part of me, over a bridge that’s probably, going with this analogy, my doubts.
The past year has been both challenging and invigorating for me as an artist. Many of my usual avenues of creativity have been either unavailable (live performance being the biggest loss) and my confidence as an artist has gone through some serious lows. At the same time, having limitations placed on what (and whom) I have access to has enabled me to make new discoveries and explore new forms. I have a podcast called ArtFelt, which is all about the creative process. Also, my band Glamour Pony has an upcoming album release which will be accompanied by a full-color storybook. The podcast and the book are “indoor activities,” which were largely prompted by the limitations of lockdown.
I am learning how to treat myself with more of a sense of compassion, rather than criticizing myself for not doing enough. i am learning to separate my worth as a person from my output as an artist. I am learning to apply my anxious energy toward useful action rather than procrastinating. I say “learning” because I deeeeefinitely don’t feel like i’ve mastered any of those. I’m just learning. Maybe I’m also learning how to accept that I’m still learning.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There’s a great hike up at the top of Temescal Canyon Road. It has beautiful coastal views and it’s just challenging enough to break a sweat but not so much that you’ll get terrible blisters.
My favorite taco truck in LA is in East Hollywood on the corner of Western and Romaine. It’s orange and it’s there most nights. Get the mulitas; they’re greasy and perfect.
I love a weekday drive on Angeles Crest highway. Weekends sometimes are a bit much but for a day drive it’s fun and pretty and feels like you’re far away somewhere.
The Griffith Observatory is currently closed for visitors but you can still go up and enjoy the view!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This shoutout is to Mandy May Cheetham, whose facilitation of the Pickford Collective has revolutionized the way I approach time management. Mandy is an actor, director, producer and overall boss. I’m grateful for her support, insight and encouragement.
Johnathan potter, Kabir Cardenas, EllaRichie deMaria, Charlie Wilson, Huro Saint