If It’s So Much Fun, Why Are Artists So Crazy, Depressed, Moody and Weird?

TC Auto Sales, Medford, OR Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
TC Auto Sales, Medford, OR

I read an interesting article about discovering the current stereotype of a city by typing “why is ————- so” and letting Google’s auto complete fill in the common searches. That led me to wonder what the stereotype for artists is these days.  So I keyed “why are artists” and then “why are artists so”  and guess what — people think artists are weird, poor, liberal, sensitive, emotional, depressed, moody, messy and important.  Crazy also came into play.  (At least some people think we’re important – but they didn’t know why, because they wanted Google to tell them. )

This experiment came on the heels of a day out painting plein air in downtown Medford.  I thought I’d found a quiet street but there were lots of people who came by and if they said anything they mostly said something like, “Looks like you’re having fun!”  Fun.  Okay.  It’s kind of true, but it’s pretty revealing about what people generally think artists are doing.   Art is fun when things are going well.  When you’re in a groove, when you’re so engrossed that you don’t need to eat, won’t answer the phone etc, BUT people don’t get that if we’re supposed to be anything but Sunday painters having a nice hobby in retirement that it takes consistent, persistent WORK.  And struggle.  In the moments when the best work is created there is a zone that is awesome, but to get into the zone you have had experiences that are to the right or left of the zone, where you over correct and have some painful crashes.  For me, to achieve the work I want to create, I’ve had to study and keep at it, and even now I have goals I want to achieve that I have to study and work at a whole lot more.  Not only that, the very best artists make art every day, which I almost do, but not quite.  The fact is, I couldn’t make anything that anyone would care to see without having put in in tons of time and thought and preparation over many years.  Fun, on the other hand, is  a nice dinner with friends and family.  Fun is playing at the beach.  Fun is relaxation. Painting is sublime, but it’s work.  It’s exhilarating and heart breaking.  It’s more fun than fun and it’s not fun at all.

Being misunderstood may just be why we’re so crazy, depressed, weird and moody all the time.   😉

14 thoughts on “If It’s So Much Fun, Why Are Artists So Crazy, Depressed, Moody and Weird?

  1. I ” Google” stuff too, and I also “Dictionary.com”

    1875–80; art1 + work

    the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

    work: exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.

    Sarah, your work is beautiful, appealing, and I especially like the way you give ordinary things more than ordinary significance. Thank you for doing it, doing it well, and sharing it.

  2. Excellent Sarah. Hope and despair is what it’s all about. I’ve been writing something about how courage is what it takes and how people who don’t paint would probably laugh at that. Courage? Fear? Are you kidding? But there’s hope every time you pick up a brush and the opposite of it when the brush doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Love the subjects you pick.

    1. Yeah Art is work, it takes hundreds of hours of practice and doing crappy work to get good, even if you were natural at birth you still need to remaster your skills, we are always comparing with each other which causes depression. We want to be like the artist we admire but they have years ahead of us and we want that mastery now, our self doubt, procrastination and insecurity causes frustration which causes anger and bitterness. We are depressed (well at least me) but we are also Very Happy in “The Zone” when we get there. We are Mentaly Abused (By Spirit) to get ideas from the other side on to this Earth Side. This talent is awesome. So there that’s why we weird. Thanks

  3. What a great post about artists and the creative process, Sarah. You said it all beautifully and simply. And I love your paintings.

  4. haha! this is something I experience too. Sometimes people say’ it must be nice to be an art student, all you do is draw'( what they don’t know is that I don’t sleep because of it too..

  5. Hahahaha

    I found this by typing in, ‘why are artists’ and chose crazy.

    Well i’m not crazy. I am not depressed. I am not weird. I do challenge the notion that suicidal thoughts are unusual. Talking to yourself is normal. Things like this.

    Daily, i think about suicide. I get pretty damn creative with it too, and argue the differences of a shotgun to the face or the chest, and the effect that a smashed up or missing face would surely cause my friend and family some sort of temporary grief, one of which they will totally get over within a period of time and go directly back to posting on facebook about the latest episode of big brother, or something to that effect.

    why is this normal? Well, itls normal for me, and i am totally NOT crazy, i’m just big on random fantasy situations and they inadvertently play out, constantly. For one to never have these thoughts, this would be crazy. We are curious of death and look into it, we wonder, and therefore think. It’s also a really easy out that we are all too scared to do, or in my case too damn busy with talking to myself and doing random shit…but seriously, if the thoughts start ‘making sense’ and you ‘agree’ with the plan, and understand it, well then you need to go find something to do because that shit aint a good place to be.

    I tend to draw. I draw hprrible things, mainly because i’ve watched my son murdered, watched a friend shoot themselves in the face, have been brutalized many times, and have ‘seen some shit’ in my life. It’s an awesome outlet.

    Random reply because ilm thinking about what to draw. Maybe i will make a coloring book. Hmm…

  6. ” lt’s more fun than fun and it’s not fun at all,” Is a great way to put it, Lol. I find approaching art can be daunting sometimes but when I’m in it its lovely, then a frustration can occur and its hard to keep going with it again. Sometimes working on a in-progress piece is hard too if you take too long of breaks b/c you lose the original motivation which first inspired you. I have been trying to find a way to channel that inspiration so its more commonly in my life and not so hard to obtain. Art is a talent of mine but I do tend to stay away from it at times because it CAN stress you out. It’s a part of art I guess. But does anyone relate, understand what I’m saying, or completely disagree with me? Thanks.

    1. As Chuck Close says, “Inspiration is for Amateurs, the rest of us just get to work.” And someone else said “Inspiration finds you working.” And someone else said something like, “when the pain of not writing {or painting etc} exceeds the pain of writing, then you get to work”. Deep breaths and carry on!

  7. look I am weird and crazy I love drawing people see me as a weird kid but its annoying and yes I ignore them I don’t know why people see artist as weird people I mean all I do is use technology eat food go to bed, draw and talk. its odd

  8. The last paragraph is the most realistic thing in my life. Like i act like me and say things that only i would say and then people say whats wrong with you without a second thought!!! Like i can understand them because i see people like them all around me but it doesnt mean just because your numbers are higher you are any saner than me. Im an artist and i enjoy my art and i am the happiest when it comes to be good but i also feel bad when it turns out wrong and thats when i have a need for people to understand.

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