The Tormented Artist – A Question of Trust

The tormented artist has been a status quo in our society for centuries now. From Van Gogh to Francis Bacon, they all created out of pain, claiming that their creativity made them suffer. This model of living an artistic life and being a „true“ artist has become deeply anchored in our society today and is being taught as „the only way“. I, myself, have heard so many times that valuable creativity only stems from darkness and suffering. Young aspired artists think they have to give up their dreams if they are not anxious and depressed enough. They desperately clinge all their hopes onto darkness.

The tormented artist is addicted to pain and suffering or as Oscar Wilde (who I absolutely adore) describes the artistical existence: „one long, lovely suicide“

I don’t agree with him on this one. I think that being addicted to pain and suffering through your creativity and your gift as an artist is pure madness and not worth celebrating. I also don’t believe that our creative channel melts together with darkness. I believe that they are separate from each other, but get mistaken for being infinitely dependent on each other.

Creativity stems from our blood and our ancestors in the first place. Not from darkness. We as human beings were born to create and interact with inspirational powers. Our bond with inspiration is founded in trust and it’s our decision if we want to trust the darkness and the pain or if we want to trust the love of our vocation. I want to create from a source of love and curiosity and not from depression. We don’t need darkness to create valuable work and we most certainly don’t need darkness to create work about darkness. In my opinion, the tormented artist is an excuse to not stop being a drug addict or an alcohol addict, to not stop being haunted and moody and violent. Numberless artists toil away in total emotional and physical solitude – disassociated not only from other human beings, but creativity itself. In addition to that, they usually have an emotionally violent relationship with their work. They believe that their gift and creativity is only there to kill them and make them suffer incalculable amounts of pain, while its only intentions were to bring fulfillment and passion, something to live for. Not die for. Not suffer for.

I am not saying that we should avoid darkness or never create from there. I, on the contrary, believe that darkness is where a lot of other emotions stem from and I think it is important and fun to experience that place as we get to know ourselves better and want to experience the whole circle of creative emotional substances, but that’s what it is. It is not for the pain or the suffering, but for the fun and the experience and personal growth of it.

So in the end, it’s completely up to you and how you want to see it. You can work and create from love or from darkness, but whatever you choose please stop romanticizing the model of the tormented artist (that has something dangerous and mystical and maybe even sexy about it, I have to admit ;-)) because it is pure madness and I have met enough mentally ill people in my life to say that madness is not desirable.

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