Van Gogh was so sad he ate yellow paint to feel happiness; Woolf’s depression led her to walk into the ocean; Hemingway was at the forefront of the Lost Generation: the relationship between depression and creativity is fairly well known, and it’s often romanticized as being the key to creating good art.
It’s been said before that individuals with a more creative personality are more likely to be prone to depression and mental illness due to their openness and sensitivity to the world. It’s interesting, though, because creativity seems to turn into doubtfulness while consumed in mental illness. What even is art or creating? Or when we finally aren’t sad, are we supposed to remember what it’s like to make a masterpiece? In cases like these, it’s important to think about our relationship with art and what we consider “good” art. And this leads to its purpose.
The purpose of good art isn’t to romanticize depression or mental illness – it’s to make you feel something – happy, sad, curious, anything. When we connect to pieces, it’s because we feel that there is some kind of underlying truth, not because the artist has/had a tragic life or depression (although oftentimes, they do have it. And it makes for some pretty damn good pieces). In this case, mental illness can aid art in the event that it is extracted with control. But how do you control it? How do you use your mental illness creatively with romanticizing it or aiding in your self destruction?
To put it simply: You can’t. Health isn’t something that should be sacrificed for art. Instead, chase after the search for truth. What other issues have been bothering you that can be further explored without going down the rabbit hole? Is there any particular social issue? For example, I find being an immigrant to be an interesting concept to explore that doesn’t spiral me down to self-destruction.
Does being an artist cause depression or does depression cause creativity? Countless studies have been conducted in attempt to discover which one is the catalyst for the other, but it ‘s difficult to streamline the relationship; the two are so inherently tied together that it’s impossible to determine which is the chicken and which is the egg. So focus on exploring new techniques and putting a twist on the conventional.