Why do people, especially the young and those in academia, idolize those supposed “tortured artists” who are hopeless, anxious, overly analytical, suicidal, and, well… depressed and depressing? Are depressed artists capable of expressing anything more profound because they’re sad or conflicted? Are they expressing anything unique about humankind and the world because they’re expressing themselves more gloomily?
Is there such thing as a tortured artist? No. This is a myth that needs to go.
Here’s why the myth that tortured artists exist needs to go.
According to the “tortured artist” myth, if you don’t have a tortured or conflicted soul, you aren’t an artist who has anything worthy of being expressed or incorporated into the artistic canons of history. And you can only create “brilliant” art if you are tortured because your art comes from your tortured soul.
It’s time to dispel this tired myth.
First, this myth glorifies depression and gloom as a driving artistic force. But in reality, those who are truly tortured and depressed don’t and can’t create art, as they are incapacitated in some way. They don’t have enough focused or inspired energy. While you can create art before or after depressive and negative episodes, it is highly unlikely you’ll be able to do so while feeling tortured and depressed. In fact, it is only those who are inspired and focused in some way who create— those who are inspired to heal, reveal, etc.
Second, this myth promotes the creation of artificial, insincere art, which is pretentious and boring, as well as annoyingly juvenile. *Yawn* Here’s the truth: using big words and learning high-brow artistic concepts, while being cranky and having a negative attitude about people and the world doesn’t make you an artist worthy of praise. Or mean that you are seeing things or experiencing things others don’t. It just reveals, well, that you’re pretentious, negative, and cranky. And that you’re uninspired, as well as uninspiring— and maybe even a bit insecure about this.
In short, there is no such thing as a “tortured artist.” Because truly tortured and depressed people don’t and can’t create art, even if they want to. And if someone is trying to embody this myth, don’t let their insecurities or pretentiousness fool you.
So, what are your thoughts? A tortured artist is a myth. No?
Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or share your thoughts on social media. Be sure to tag @kecreighton.
Today’s #DailyDraftsAndDialogues : A tortured artist is a myth. No?Tweet
I’m Currently Reading:
- The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark
- The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery by Sam Kean
- The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
See my shelves on Goodreads.
Subscribe to Daily Drafts & Dialogues
Fifty percent (50%) of all donations made on this website go toward literacy and or social justice initiatives at the end of every month. This month’s initiative: HELPING THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF UKRAINE. PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL. THANK YOU!