What do most artists have in common? Most would say a beautiful and unorthodox way of perceiving life, an uncanny sense of expression, or a stockpile of masterpieces. What about adversity, poor lifestyle behaviors, and substance abuse? Where do the talented outcast of the world go to fit in? Art. Books and paintings, architecture and music all fall into the category of art. The beautiful expressions of renegades at play. Admired by many and scrutinized by most but all possessing the ability to rise above and produce great work. A thick skin is necessary. It may all seem glorious and delightful but there’s a much deeper and darker side to it.
When do you perform your greatest work? You might answer, after a good night’s rest or convalescent weekend or vacation, when you’re feeling motivated or incentivized. An artist may be willing to disagree. In fact many artist’s extraordinary treasures have been crafted after long nights of insomnia, depression, or drugs, a close death or difficult breakup. Horrid days of pain and anguish. Restless streaks of self-loathing and destruction. When the pain of life is just too much and needs to be put on display to the rest of the world. This is when the real magic happens. This is when the pen hits the pad and art is composed. The unstoppable flow of creation backed by the unpleasantries of life.
If you dive deep into literature and look beyond the surface you will find it to be riddled with difficulties and misfortunes. Either plainly displayed or subtly hidden, they exist. The great Dr. Suess’s children’s books were full of political views and historic events hidden behind a curtain of lovable fictitious creatures and dizzying wordplay. Every character is faced with some sort of a dilemma. This is real life and that is why it is such a common topic among books and other forms of art. A novel would be impossible without a conflict. The same is true to life, the average person hides from their conflicts, the rare breed of spectacular individuals that we call the artist embraces them and benefits from them.