Staying Happy as an Artist

Staying Happy as an Artist:
Artistic peoples struggles with emotions and how they might process through them.
A set of Blog posts exploring the above topic.

Something I’ve found over the last few years both through my own self growth and in speaking to other artists is that it is incredibly hard for us to stay happy. I made a post about a year ago exactly *maybe its a spring thing* about making myself happy. A year later, I’m reminded that being happy and practicing being happy is a constant thing that one has to strive towards. Through all the bullshit that the world can contain, all the ups and downs that we are faced with, sometimes it is just best to put on a happy face until we actually start to believe the smile that’s on our own head. Often times this is easier said than done and I acknowledge that wholeheartedly. Still, it’s something to strive for.

I recently also read an article on how artists are at their most creative when they are having the most “feels.” Or rather, that all great artists need Solitude. To me that’s just sequestering oneself away with their own emotions.

All those big emotions, and most often times the bad or negative emotions. For me personally I find that while I do create things when I am “having a sad” or am depressed the overall works are full of sloppy lines, lots of dark values, and are more of just a way to purge whatever emotion I’m feeling. When I’m happy, I create much more freely, my line art becomes smooth and creatures flow from a place somewhere at the center of my mind with ease. So to say that they, being artists, create better when we are in a dark emotional state I feel is incorrect. I would however say that artists create best when we are feeling a lot of something.

Artists are passionate beings. We’re also our own worst critics. Sometimes more so than other types of people. When artists go to create something they often times put a piece of themselves into their art. Be it the emotion they are feeling, what’s going on in their life, what’s affecting them. All of these types of things can be seen in ones work if you look closely and if you know the artist in question. I used to have friends ask, “oh god… are you ok?” just by looking at what I was putting on the page. Artists absolutely wear their hearts on their sleeves…er…on their sketchbooks.

In being out own worst critics regarding the work that we create, that sort of self criticism will also often times leak over into the rest of our lives. Are we doing our job well enough? Do we look good enough? Are we really striving to reach our whole potential? Will my art ever be good enough? Are the things I create making the mark? What are we doing to inhibit ourselves and how do we stop?

Here’s a few steps I’m going to briefly go into on this post and then expand on them through the next few days.

List ALL of the things that are bothering you or that you are going through.
Now really look at that list. How many things are you really looking at? How many of those are BIG things that likely could use secondary lines to signify other things within the bigger things?

Listing things out has always helped me see what I’m really dealing with. More often than not, its a lot more than I expect. After looking at all of it it’s best to take a step back and:

Really Acknowledge all that you are going through!
There’s the cliche saying of, “admitting the problem being the first step,” but it’s true. Not even just admitting there’s a problem, but sometimes writing it down and getting it to paper. Let it sit on the paper instead of in your head. Or a blog post or a personal word document if you prefer a keyboard to pen and paper.

Once you’ve sat down and Acknowledged your list of things, pick ONE to start working through.
More often than not once we’ve got our list we try to tackle everything at once and rush through it all. It can be MUCH more effective, efficient, and kind to yourself to just pick one thing to solve and get off the table before pushing through the rest of things.

Questions for those of you reading:

-If you are an artist, do you consider yourself “the tortured artist?”
-What mental state of being do you find you are most creative or most productive?
-How does your art help you process your emotions?

Next Post: What do do once you’ve really acknowledged that list

Disclaimer: The information written here is based purely on my own beliefs and experiences. I am not a licensed psychiatrist, therapist, or persons of medical training.


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