The Convention of the Tortured Artist

Pain does not create art. Experiences create art- and experiences can be happy too.

Art often reflects the thoughts and condition of humanity, and to believe that art is a result of only pain, that true art is only that which is made by a ‘tortured artist’, is to believe that our world is a very sad place.

The myth of the tortured artist is a strange take on creativity and creative thinking. It is the belief that all brilliant art is a result of pain, and is made by the hand of a “tortured artist”. There are, of course, many artists who have, in fact, suffered through the course of their lives, but the world has made the mistake of believing this to be convention.

Now, say the tortured artist stereotype is not, in fact, a myth. Artists of any sort must then seemingly endure trauma, suffering, self-hate or mental illness to ever truly amount to anything. Artists are then those who live as outcasts. Those who live miserable, tormented lives. Those who die tragic or unnatural deaths.

According to this myth, a happy person has no capacity for creative or artistic thinking. Why? Because they have no such traumatic experiences to draw emotions from?Because they haven’t suffered enough to be deemed ‘worthy’ of being an artist?

I believe that the idea of transforming pain into creativity and the concept of experiencing certain emotions due to a piece of art has, over time, morphed into the belief that art is solely an outcome of pain.

Art is a result of experiences-happy or sad. Or maybe it’s simply a result of observation. The myth of the tortured artist is often believed to be the norm when in reality, it is the exception.

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Take Away

You experienced death

But did you take away sadness?

You experienced success

But did you take with you joy?

You experienced pain

But did you learn courage?

You experienced relationships

But did you take with you love?

You experienced the world-

The mountains, the trees,

the cool autumn breeze.

The people, the places,

A thousand lustful gazes.

But from it, did you gain anything at all?