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.


A Happy Little Marble Floating in Space

In the past few hours, I have come to a surprising realisation. I am a pessimist.

During my fifteen years on this planet, I have carefully perfected the art of being able to complain about anything and everything. Maybe its something small- either the sun is too bright, or I have far too much work, or I feel as though people don’t listen to me. Perhaps its something big- I’m sad because of all the beggars I see on the street, frustrated by the way women are treated in this world, or shocked by the hundreds of acts of terrorism committed each year.

Our world is, to us, a massive place. Everyday, hundreds of terrible things happen- to us, to people we know, to strangers. Perhaps a building is bombed, or a person killed, or a child kidnapped. Cruel, intolerant and oppressive acts take place. Horrible injustices are committed.

Everyday, terrible things do happen.

But wonderful things happen too. Everyday, friendships are forged. Everyday, people fall in love. Everyday, people help one another. Everyday, human beings connect with others, accept others, support others and love others. And that in itself is a beautiful thing.

In comparison to the Universe, our planet is minuscule. Some go on to say that is is completely insignificant. But what if we were happier? What if our planet was a happier place? Our happy little marble could then make the Universe a more joyful place.