Fighting with Depression (acrylic on canvas 72’ x 48’, 2016) is a canvas that I created when I was dissatisfied with the lack of recognition my work received. By the time I finished the canvas I felt already in a better mood, so I added the swallow´s nest in the storm lantern. Don’t ask me what for, it was an impulse.
Tortured artists are a group so fabled that researchers have set out to discover if there’s a verifiable link between mood disorders and artistic ability, but the results have largely proven inconclusive. Although major depression and bipolar disorder are associated with creativity, evidence does not indicate that having a mood disorder enhances an individual’s artistic ability. Interestingly, the study also found that close relatives of people with disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa disproportionately worked in the arts. Either way, creativity and artistic expression have been shown to have a significant benefit to people with depression.
For this purpose, I’ve set out to share with you my personal guidelines for NOT getting depressed as an artist.
- An artistic activity offers you a path to grow as a person. See that as the primary goal of your artistic occupation.
- Being an artist is not a hobby, it’s a way of life that affects all the facets of your existence.
- Only work on topics that are meaningful to you and do this in a manner that appeals to you.
- Don’t waste too much time on self-promotion. It keeps you away from your creative drive and usually costs more money and energy than it’s worth. Make your work available but stay away from events that want YOU to pay for selling your work instead of taking a commission.
- Finnish your projects. Nothing is more disheartening than a drawer full of sketches and project outlines that never came to fruition.
- Have a life. Visit artistical events, read books, go out with friends, have a close relation (and take care of it).
- Avoid losing too much time on the internet’s rabbit holes (especially the fakebook). That only leads to self-incrimination in the lines of “again I’ve got nothing done”). Have a blog but only write on it when you have something meaningful to communicate about (and not because you MUST produce a weekly post or the google algorithm will start to ignore your blog). Read other people’s posts: they can be a mayor source of inspiration.
- Avoid substance abuse. It doesn’t make something coming out of me that wasn’t inside me to begin with. Some artists claim that their creativity only flows when they’re on something. In my opinion, it makes me sloppy, alienates other people, and is a deathtrap.
- Money and fame have been the downfall of as many talented artists as did poverty and marginalization.
These are my 10 personal commandments that keep me going as an artist.
Maybe some among you want to share what keeps them sane as an artist?