The Tortured Artist

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The correlation between artistry and mental illness has presented itself countless times not only in contemporary artistic culture but has also been recorded in artists during the classical composition period. 

Because of the high ratio of artists with unstable mentality or issues with mental health it must be that it is a ‘fact’ that must be ‘worn’ or ‘suffered.’ BullS%^&

Hannah Gadsby, if you aren’t aware, was the motivational speaker we didn’t know we needed and she imparted her most gracious and graphic skills and knowledge to an audience of both creatives and non-creatives a like about the effect that glamourising ‘tortured ‘ artists can have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aE29fiatQ0

This is the best example of a superstar, if ever there was one. Not only is she able to communicate so intimately with a large scale and televised audience, but she does it with an incredible balance of humour and honesty. 

The part about her performance (that I have enjoyed watching numerous times) is how she deconstructs the misconceptions between mental health and artistry. Here’s the summary; they are not related.


I’ll let you guys in on a little secret….I too have experienced mental health problems……guess why……BECAUSE I’M A HUMAN! Whether someone is have mental ability issues could be a multitude of reasons whether or not they are related directly to their work or not is (A) none of your business and (B) not a debate for speculation. 


There are many people struggling with their mental health everyday across a multitude of industries and perhaps the stress on creatives is higher than other industries because we are expected to present perfection without reciprocating payment; but that’s a discussion for another time.


I just really want to point out how frustrating it is when people are under the delusion that for an artist to produce good art they must have some traumatic life experience and be in a perpetual state of misery and suffering, all for the sake of art, of course. 

I, personally, create music much more successfully when I am in a clear and positive headspace and I’m sure you’ll find most, if not all, artists would say the same.

Mental illness is not something to take lightly and to create environments in the arts community where people feel not only safe but feel like their feelings are legitimised is so important. 

You are not sensitive because you are an artist and you are not an artist because you are sensitive. 

You may be a sensitive person and you may be an artist but your mental health does not to be created from your work and you certainly do not need to suffer to create great art. 


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