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  • Writer's pictureRe:Jen Zen

Misconception: Artists Thrive Off Depression

Some of the most famous artists are those with a depressing life story. Their desire to self-isolate, the swirling thoughts of gloom, and their desire to express their stormy emotions should be a recipe for profound and thought-provoking art….

… but not always.

Every person on earth deals with anxiety and depression in their own ways. While these melancholy feelings can manifest into art, for many artists it saps away their motivation. There’s no energy and they are left with self-frustration. They feel that they should make art. They have time. They have the means. But they just… can’t and they don’t understand why.

Personally, I began my journey with art because of depression, but that is no longer the case. Where I used to bury my nose into a sketchbook to find some escapism, nowadays I handle things differently. I turn to art for joy. The odd thing about depression is although we know something can or will uplift us again, it seems like an impossible task and shy away from it.

Recently, all of us are experiencing fear, rage, uncertainty… and we are seeing an explosion of different people reacting, well, differently. Some are seemingly absurdly cheerful as they force themselves onward. Others are constantly angry, triggered by the most minute situations. A few are constantly moving, trying to do a thousand things at once to stop themselves from thinking and give themselves focus. And some can’t fathom getting out of bed, much less picking up a pencil.

As artists, we always compare. Whether that is your work vs mine or this style vs that style, we always see the differences and hyper-focus on them. When someone is struggling so hard to do even daily tasks, they may look at those pumping out drawing after drawing incredulously. And that makes them feel worse. They should be doing the same ...right?

No. You do you. I know it is hard, but try to stop beating yourself up. If you are sad and need space and alone time… that is OK. Take your time. Go at your pace. You are not alone and you are handling things the best way you know how. And if that means you can’t do it today, that is OK. We can try again another day when you feel ready.

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