Why Artists Are Never Happy

Why Artists Are Never Happy

We’ve all heard of the writer, whose ideas are flowing so quickly their hands can’t keep up, the story is basically writing itself; or the film director who has a conversation with an actor between takes and something just clicks, and it brings out the most incredible performance that electrifies the whole set. Now, I haven’t experienced many of those magical moments, and I used to think that’s cause I’m not creative enough, and that I need to find inspiration, whatever that actually means, but then I thought about it a bit more and realized that all of these moments of creative magic seemed to have one thing in common. The director for example, it’s only natural to wonder what they said to the actor that sparked such a brilliant performance. While ignoring that in order for the conversation to happen at all, the director first had to decide that the last take wasn’t good enough, and the writer, we might wonder what gave them such a free flow of inspiration to be able to write so fluently. But we don’t talk about how after they’d passionately dumped all their ideas on the page, they then decided to re-write the story many times, laboring over every phrase. So, here’s the theory, before and after every great idea someone’s got to say, “that’s still not good enough.” And maybe I’m a pessimist, but I think that that discontentment, is what drives creativity, not these magical moments of gleeful inspiration. What we’re essentially dealing with is modified perfectionism, i.e., the refusal to accept almost anything short of near perfection; and that’s not an easy way to live – it makes it painful to look at our own work and more likely to be emotionally affected when it does go wrong. We can get stuck, rejecting all our ideas before giving them a real chance. We can easily obsess over almost perfecting one small detail when we should be looking at the overall project. Because we see those flaws so clearly it makes it hard to put our work out there, hard to stick to deadlines, hard to keep a work/life balance. We may never truly accept compliments about our work because we’re too busy agreeing with our critics. And so actually wouldn’t it actually be nicer to avoid all that and just be content with our current work and abilities? We could chose the jobs that we know we can handle never going for one which we feel under prepared or under qualified for. We could do the bear minimum of work rather than spending our own time and money going the extra mile for the project and we could tailor our work to what has been succesful in the past rather than putting ourselves out there with something risky. Now I have done all of that and sure it easier. But the path is smooth and flat it leaves you kind of numb. Whereas the alternative is to say that’s still not good enough and take the path full of risks and fear doubt and exhaustion instability and stress and yes, it brings you plenty of those low points but with it the thrill of the highs. Its like we know that the stories we’re writing need conflict so why are we so scared of it in our actual lives? Now I’m not sure what to call this maybe I hate my work syndrome or constructive pessimism. Yeah, that’s better. Where we are quick to find the flaws but then we make use of them. Here’s are real world example, this room is a mess it has been for a while and it will continue to be. Now I could tell my self, that’s because I’m not good a cleaning or that I don’t have time. But that’s not really true the reason I won’t clear up is because I am content with the mess and contentment is the enemy of progress. But that doesn’t meant that discontentment solves everything. The other day I went rock climbing and was not content with my abilities at all. I could easily tell that I was not doing well I had that feeling of “this isn’t good enough.” But instead of using that as fuel to keep me going, I just gave up and thought, you know what, climbing isn’t for me. And that’s the trap so many of us fall into. Now I don’t mind if that happens with climbing to be honest but when I’m writing a script or giving feedback to a collaborator or searching for a filming location. I want to see the flaws rather than quickly going yeah, that’ll do But most importantly, I need to remember that all of this discontentment, all of this self doubt, doesn’t mean that we should quit it mean that we are actually onto something. Because the people who feel the sting of their own inadequacies and then keep working at it, they are the one who finally find the magic.

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100 Replies to “Why Artists Are Never Happy”

  1. @DSLRguide Aww, gee thanks I'm on the verge of tears after that last quote. When I get art criticism (Mainly from my own mind) I always think that no matter how hard I will work on a project that it will never match up. I didn't ever think of the more struggle the more you are making yourself better without even knowing it. So thank you so much for making this. I will use this to help improve my own art.

  2. Even the creators of some of the best things ever created feel doubt. Its something we all struggle with. I really hate it. But, instead of crumbling up a drawing because its not good enough, you could keep the drawing and move on so that you can look back at that "bad" drawing and see how much you have improved.

  3. Personal happiness is not contentment with your work and generalizing negative thought patterns is not a good way to achieve „we feeling“

  4. i do welcome of criticism but only from those who have mind… who are creative… who are experienced..not from any other guy who has no idea about creative work but sitting on BIG chair.

  5. yeah it's a never ending painstaking process… i want to give up but i just cant.. my self would never allow that… man… that was good inspiration for me.

  6. It feels so bad people to critise you with their basis of technically perfect masterpiece. There are a lot of art pieces that maybe technically perfect but boring, heartless and meaningless.

  7. well it's true finding and being quiet for magic in life is hard and even convincing ideas to other is more harder but not giving up in life is more harder and who does that is real one
    well I like this video thank

  8. I absolutely hate every chord progression I create on my acoustic guitar. And I do always feel like it’s never good enough. Everyone else will stare at me in amazement and I’ll sit there dumbfounded like, “you actually like this garbage”?

  9. I love everything what is starting with art. Now I’m practicing my drawing and painting skills more than 6 years. I saw a change. A HUGE, so if love drawing or ur creative, be patient, and you will see the end. <3

  10. I'm happy sometimes. But I'm afraid of being happy it never ends well.. I was having fun with my friends, and that night ended in screams and a broken arm. I was smiling. And minutes later, I'm crying. Happiness is pain. I'm not ready to deal with it.

  11. I write… i actually googled once the quickest way to commit suicide, drank half of the world's alcohol reserve, my family thinks i'm lazy… weed is illegal in romania, imagine the days

  12. I don't like how the modern art is spreading negative things, instead of positive things. I like the positive art and art that help you how to aid the negative times.

  13. People: it's not good for artists to be happy.. Because if they're happy, they feel contented and then they don't feel the need to create new art.

    Me: pass me 7 pounds of sadness.

  14. Big BOGUS,
    Ignorant thinking 😂😂😂
    It's just a mindset.

    Go on stay negative and you will. 😊

  15. I do art im sad its just cause idk its a good way to show how u feel without saying it kinda therapeutic and i guess i got really good

  16. There is so much going in my head after watching this.
    The term: "don't be to harsh to yourself" it's used when someone is asking too much to themselves, but that's the bad part of wanting to be something else, your art is never enough for you, that's why you have to constantly critisize yourself, it's painfully but that's what really makes you shine.

  17. I always tell myself one has to be deranged to be an artist, becaus yes artist are obsessive and are defeneatly addicted to the rush derived from creative epiphanies…speaking for myself my social life suffers from this lifestyle I spend my days doing what I love and often my social life takes the side. That being said, not only artist find themselfs in this situation of eternal search for perfection. Scientists or any other individual fully invested in its work would fit in the same mold as artists.

  18. Damn, bro. Good job making an interesting subject boring. Your voice is about as interesting as the insurance ad that preceded the video.

  19. Art is a journey. Kind of like parenting a child. Of course, there will always be struggle and success. However, the intangibile thought transforming to a visable concrete thing that is enjoyed by others is worth it.

  20. sometimes I wish that I could be happy as an artist but I remembered that if I can be happy as an artist, I would be contented by my art and wouldn't strive to be better

  21. If you’re binge watching videos about how you’re a failure today, stop watching and go outside and smell the flowers, or clean up a mess, and hit the sketchbook. Enjoy the small things in life and let the creativity flow. It’s better to try than to quit.

  22. Haha I'm an artist and a musician…. Co-Incidence ? I don't think so!

  23. Being a natural artist myself, I tend not to be satisfied with my own artworks. Once I get done with a piece I'm working on another. The cycle sometimes lasts for weeks

  24. Being criticized sucks
    No matter what you do for a living
    Anyone that is subject to it….it hurts bad
    In today's world of social media… they get it every day
    You are out there, getting hurt constantly…
    like getting shot on a daily basis
    and they cant shut it out… because they are in the spotlight.
    Their minds are on all the time… and then they try to numb it
    It is sad.
    In a normal life… it is hard enough to deal with
    Imagine getting it all the time… no matter what

  25. Me almost giving up trying to paint because I have an idea but I just don’t know how to make it come out onto paper

  26. Me during the painting: huh this is actually good
    Me after painting: wwttfff is that omfg there are so many mistakes smisnsbsosjbzhcbd

  27. I struggle so much with this… my skills/talents art,fashion,writting ,music… how can i do it all… being an overthinking perfectionist

  28. Here's something that I've started to do: Frame an old piece of art, from the very very beginning. Make sure it's absolutely horrendous compared to your art now. Put it somewhere you'll see when you draw. When you scroll through social media for example and start comparing yourself to other artists, instead of comparing your work to theirs, compare your work to that framed old work. Progress is motivational, it shows you how far you've come..

  29. I know this is old but I just wanna say that every artist will always have what I call a "golden peak", where they hate everything they draw, then create something amazing that they just can stop drawing. All you need to really do is experiment with styles, and you can have this kind of moment too 🙂

  30. No this isn't true. Artists are just as happy and sad making art. Of course they see the flaws, try to improve an artwork, but suffering isn't the driving fuel for artwork. I think it's the thrill of finding something new and the impact it will have on us. Sadness can be used to bring forth ideas to express our sadness and pain, but even then it's the feeling of creation that is leaving a meaningful, impactful weight on us at the moment we make an artwork.

  31. Im not really happy, im more kind of like…excited, cuz i can draw anything i want in the world, its not really relevent to the video

  32. This was refreshing to watch. Melancholia is part of my experience as an artist, as is perfection to a large degree. I don’t understand these other artists who talk in this bubblegum goofy manner about their work. Especially when they talk about ‘just paint and it will come’. No that does not work for me, especially when I need to have preliminary plans before I start things. Also I relate here to what you say about healthy perfectionism. My paintings are impressive because I’ve taken the time and gone through the torture of planning out composition, tones, etc before commuting to canvas. My art is not fluffy, it’s serious business to me.

  33. When you aren't happy, there's something wrong.. I'm drawing since three years and sometimes I really feel bad for my art, but then I sit down and look at all the progress I made in this year. I see how much I improved and where I could be in some years. That makes you happy and all this artist on Instagram and tumbler or even YouTube where at some moment at the same point as you. I want to see the people thinking 'wow she's just 16!" and that's what I see in their faces at the moment. No one will look at your art and go "weelll this artist, that are way longer into art than you, are much better!". When you are still in school, talk to your art teacher. Maybe they draw like crap on the black board, but they will actually help you to improve and give you a great critic. When you read this, don't let your dreams crush. I'm am just 16, but if you want to talk, I'm here. ^^

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