Coping with artistic depression and What gets in the way of creating an art business
Are you someone who struggles with artistic depression?
Two important things about artists.
- Artists are dreamers. They do it because they have a vision of the world and a compulsion to express that vision of the world. They are driven to create.
- Please see point #1
For many of us, it’s got nothing to do with wanting to be rich or famous. We’d like to do it all the time, but life gets in the way. We need to eat/clothe the kids/wash occasionally….
And that costs money.
However, being an artist doesn’t mean that you have to not make a living from it. That said, some of us like to be able to have our cake and eat it. I am a minister and I wouldn’t want to stop being that for anything. But like many of the other things I do (cyclist, musician, magician…) I can do ministry through my art. And do…frequently. Lucky old me huh?
So I don’t really have a problem with the necessities of life.
I do have a problem with trying to afford the equipment though, so I have to make some sort of a ‘living’ by selling the art to provide for my enthusiasm. Also, part of the money I make goes towards new projects in my Christian ministry…currently I am developing a board game library!
Some people I know also want desperately to make money with their art because it is their dream…please see point #1
In fact the desperation is so great, it stops them actually getting there.
This is what happens:
They start to live in the future too much. Because as artists we see potential, we almost see into the future of what a thing might become. So we draw that image backwards into the now. This is our Achilles heal. We begin to live in the future. We forget the now. We dream of success…or rather the success of painting or drawing all day, every day. And then when our now doesn’t match up to our not yet, we become depressed.
Artists are emotional creatures (I guess this is the real #2). When we feel depressed we can either produced work which reflects that depression, or else we stall, and feel we will never create another piece again. And this causes a spiral effect…we get depressed because we aren’t seeing our dream fulfilled…we can’t create because we are depressed…we will never see our dream fulfilled… and so on.
The (possible) cure!
- Recognise what is going on. You will never get to your dream if you let this spiral continue.
- Recognise the only way to the dream. You are an artist. The only way you can become a self sufficient artist is by producing artwork. No one wants to buy from an artist who isn’t selling anything BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOTHING TO SELL! It’s like a store that is empty wondering why no one comes shopping in their store. No product=no sales=no future.
- Stop living in the future, live in the now. Become obsessive about painting or drawing or creating something every single day. This is what you want your job to be? So do this as your job. If you can’t think what to make, copy someone else’s work. You don’t have to sell it, just copy it. You are at the least learning hand eye coordination, but more importantly you are learning to really look. Grab a magazine…or an image from the web and produce it in your favourite medium…or least favourite!
- Now lets doing something else…lets examine those dreams. They aren’t impossible, but it will take a while to get there. You need planning. Imagine what the last step is before you get your dream, now the step before that one…and keep working backwards. Eventually you will get to now. Now don’t mess around with planning every single step, you need to produce art. But do look at the very first step you have to take. Imagine, what are all the ways in which that first step could happen? Keep imagining that FIRST step. Then if that or something that helps you to achieve that first step happens, grab it and run with it. Imagining that first step ways of achieving it will help you to stay aware of what needs to happen right now. More than that, you will actually find you move forward a little bit when it happens. It doesn’t seem too far away. And you can get on with your art while waiting for it to happen. And guess what, as soon as that first step happens, you proceed to the second step AND DO EXACTLY THE SAME THING. (I should add a this point that as a Christian I pray and leave it in God’s hands too, and I see things happen! Its amazing…try it. Give God that problem…see him come through for you)
- You could also get together with other artists. Try locally, or online.
Here’s the thing. You can either spend each day of the next year spending roughly 1 hour a day getting depressed, and therefore never producing a single piece of art (that’s days of depression). Or else you could spend 1 hour a day producing art. How much could you produce…how much could you sell?!