The myth of the tormented artist
This is 17 year old me: Half depressed and confused, half pretending to be. (Also, I just read all four books in the “Twilight”- series in a row.)
That time I also left a rather not so healthy relationship and a bunch of bad and painful friendships. I advanced to sad loner over night. On top of that I still had two years of school left (an institution that destroyed me a little bit more each day, not exaggerating) and oh wow – did I hate life back then! The only thing that kept me sane (besides Twilight of course) was listening to heaps and heaps of sad indie-music. I warn you: Don’t ask me about my taste in music: YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. I ruined the mood at my own birthday party a few years ago because someone asked me to put on my favourite songs. People went to bed crying – so they told me. The sadder and more depressed and addicted to drugs the musicians were, the better. My ultimate role model was the tormented artist. I never questioned the idea that art must be born in a place of deep unhappiness. Perhaps I was trying to make sense of my own unhappiness and accredited it some kind of value. It wasn’t until recently when I realised this: When have I ever created something after hanging out in bed just being depressed and listening to Amy and Pete all day? The answer is: Never. I love Amy and Pete with all my heart. Both of them are (were…) great musicians no matter what anyone says. However, I firmly believe that they would have been even better artists if they stopped doing drugs or at least – in Amy’s case – wouldn’t have died.
Photos are taken best with a light heart. If I am in a good mood it is much easier for my clients or models to relax in front of the camera. Am I positive and confident the ideas for the next pose or setting come much easier to me. It is really that simple. I don’t have to go deep into myself and fish for dark emotional matter to express in my photos. Let’s be real here: Does that ever work for anyone?!
I spent a long time feeling like my photography was inadequate because it lacks darkness and meaning. My photos are shiny and pretty (maybe apart from the ones above). They don’t provoke or offend anyone (I hope) and they won’t win a Pulitzer price (I’m fairly certain about that too). I have fun, my clients have fun, my creative team has fun, the people who look at my photos are having fun – and you know what? My life doesn’t suddenly feel less meaningful or rich or important because I stopped having a shit time.
*What inspired me to write this post is Elizabeth Gilbert’s excellent argument against the ideal of the tormented artist in her book “Big Magic”. If you are interested to read more about that and creativity I highly recommend this to you.