Do Depressed Artists Make Better Art?

Do Depressed Artists Make Better Art?


When it comes to art school, I’ve heard some pretty crazy things For example a friend of mine told me that her art teacher told her to break up with her boyfriend because she was too happy And she would not be able to make good art and that only enough seems to be a common thing in art Not just the idea that art school sucks but the idea that depression and art go hand in hand and my point of view is that Well, I can’t exactly argue every artist is normally adjusted Like I don’t think there’s a normal person out there saying I’m going to sit all day alone and draw pictures That is the normal thing to do because it’s true, a lot of artists struggle financially Or struggle with mental health and a lot of that gets integrated into the kind of work they make but the idea that depression should be a driving force in your art is a Dangerous idea to me part of the blame comes to how we romanticize stories about artists throughout history painters have worked for merchants, nobility and the church all groups of people who were very wealthy and whose Wealth today is roughly equivalent to that of the furry community but the trope of the starving artists exists for a reason most painters were by no means rich and the story of someone struggling to be an artist is naturally going to be more relatable than that of a person who immediately Succeeded but is the work of the depressed artist actually more meaningful than that of the happy one? I think to answer this question. We need to answer a very long and complicated question. What is art? Art. Is. Communication. There we did it. every artist is going to have a different answer for what art is But to me I would sum it up with word communication it’s using any kind of medium no matter the amount of skill, or technical knowledge to try and express something some kinds of art are high communication like the most popular paintings films and literature are Probably going to be very clear with what they are trying to say But other kinds of art are very abstract as if bordering on the line of “is this even trying to say anything at all?” and when this kind of art is Successful, it is hugely successful Because the interpretation of art that is low communication can be so broad that People can find a lot more personal meaning to it so I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with a blank canvas that has a black dot on it, because to push the boundaries of art is a part of being an artist Just doesn’t mean you’re going to be a successful artist So in trying to communicate something with art whether that is very clear or very subtle what we are trying to communicate Place a big role If I ask you right now, hey viewer, what kind of art do you want to make? You would probably say “Um… uh.. I don’t know, whether I feel like?” but in practice using art to communicate whatever you feel like can actually be very difficult because it Is the equivalent of stripping down naked you’re opening yourself up to a lot of Vulnerability and weakness as people can openly judge your very personal parts. So instead as an artist It’s a lot easier to play dress-up instead you can imagine well What if I did this kind of art instead? maybe then people would think I’m a really cool guy and we can become obsessed with Things like finding the right art style because finding that right group of people to appeal to is also to hide yourself within that group of people even for successful artists this can lead to a lot of frustration For every painter in history who did make it as a success how many of them were also horribly stressed and worried that their work would not appeal to the people who had money and power And in the end if it really is all about making money and your own survival Then why not just be a furry? my point of view on all of this is about the thing that I find the most valuable in art is Honesty I think that when we see depression portrayed in art that can be hugely appealing because is a form of laying out absolute honesty In your work, it’s someone openly portraying their own weaknesses, fears and then as vulnerable people ourselves How is that not oddly appealing and admirable? And at the core, what we want from art is honesty We want to see what people really are like and who they are and oddly enough. That is a weirdly difficult thing to achieve Saying something like personal honesty can sound very heavy it can make it sound like every single thing you make should be very Emotional or very deep but really it can be very simple stuff how you feel kind of tired right now or how you thought something Looked pretty So you painted it odds are if you really feel like drawing a piece of poop right now You could do that and post it and people would love it because sometimes your personal honesty is a piece of poop and this goal of achieving honesty in your art is where Romanticizing depression can make it a downward spiral it is very admirable to pursue absolute honesty in your work, but it can be very dangerous to think that your suffering is your only source of personal honesty to think that this is the only way that you can express yourself openly and honestly, maybe to the point where you feel like you need to keep suffering to keep your success to essentially fall in love with your own depression the point I want to make with this video is not that Depressing art is actually worse or a thing that is wrong to make I think there’s a lot of value in Artists using art as a tool to talk about their depression The value for me that depression has in art lies in it’s open communication and for you as a person. There is so much more to you than just the depression I think judging from past video titles I have made, people wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety so then again Maybe I am just a bit biased because my depression did not make me want to make great works of art It made me want to kill myself And when you are depressed the idea of not being depressed can be horrifying because you might become a person who is dishonest Someone who is just forcing themselves to feel good and be something they are not because when you are depressed everything that is not depressing Doesn’t feel real like you hear a happy song on the radio and all you can think is “oh, come on” “Who are these people trying to fool? Huh?” “We all know happiness doesn’t exist.” But having come out of my depression I can say that I still have a lot things to say and I don’t feel dishonest and instead of becoming someone different someone I didn’t recognize I became the person I was before I was depressed You

100 thoughts on “Do Depressed Artists Make Better Art?

  1. I was really down for a long while and during that time I did not want to draw because my fear of associating the drawing with the sadness I felt. So yhea its not good

  2. Well, I'm not an artist but I write. I write all the time. I recently been through some truly horrible shit that's scary and upsetting and depressing, well, basically I've been through abuse and I finally woke up to them. And like all abuse victims, we woke up to them when the abuse got really bad. I couldn't sleep, work, or just focus, really. And I can't write for shit during then. It's after I've begun healing that I'm
    able to write for shit. So no, depression doesn't help the creative juices. I couldn't have any creative musing then.

  3. Depression doesn't make me a great artist, it made me want to *kill myself*.

    I love this. I'll be quoting this to everyone lol

  4. I honestly don’t know exactly how I’d function, I find when I feel sad or negative I display that in art, but when I am happy, I draw positive subjects

  5. That art teacher needs to be freaking fired. Encouraging depression (no matter the intent) is straight up dangerous and should not be teaching.

  6. Read a book about El Greco and the Author was really big on the "to suffer is to understand art" and the first pages just went on and on about how sad Greco's life where, how he suffered and how that is why he achieved true understanding of art and that you can never be a real artist if you haven't suffered. I stopped reading after that.
    Van Gogh, the poster child of "depression makes good art" is a constantly miss used example. He did the best art when he was OUT of his depressive episodes and one can argue that we would have had more Van Gogh art had he been treated. You should never deliberately stay depressed or sabotage your happiness and it will not make you a better artist. Teaching people they aren't sad enough is beyond unethical.

  7. thank you for this video. this is something i've been pondering over in the past months as a musician and singer-songwriter, specifically trying to find a middle ground between performance anxiety and the will to get better through communicative art. though i definitely agree that depression is in no way a driving force of its own when making art, i think there's a correlation to be made as soon as you've taken a step back and are able to understand & express your own feelings in retrospect (personal honesty) instead of willfully forcing them on yourself for the cause (absolute honesty bordering dishonesty). but it's true that not all art HAS to be motivated by depression and negative emotions

    tl;dr make art to try and feel better, not to stay depressed

  8. I think that having experienced depression might make your art more interesting; at least, I will be able to relate to it more since I have depression. Considering how actually being depressed kills motivation and perspective for the most part, though, I don't think that the state itself does much besides get in the way. I love Evangelion's deeply personal and depressive nature, but the ending, which Anno made in a peak sadlad state, would not work at all if we didn't have End of Evangelion.

  9. Personally for me, I was making my animated web series (for a couple of years) while going through my worst depression and ended up with a messy series. Also it didn't help having a main character who was depressed and suicidal. I think if you're on the path of actually bettering yourself with depression you could make better art. You can build meaningful themes and really think about what is important. You can express that "honesty" and give out a good message. But if you're swimming around in your depression, just completely given up, you're just gonna come out making really negative art. You're gonna be mad and frustrated. Your message will be murky and not clear. I think using some of your depression is fine but you shouldn't be dependant on it because it is dangerous. The past year I've been working on improving my body, living a healthier lifestyle and just making big changes. Depression sucks but its just something you have to learn live with. If you're able to use it with your art without damaging the art or yourself then sweet but you must be very careful.

  10. I find it difficult to believe that being sad, being hurt or being depressed leads to the person wanting to draw something. However, if bad events occur and such make us feel sad, I can see and understand why artwork inspired from said events yield much more interest for other people.

    But forcing others or yourself to be sad to become a better artist is the worst thing I've ever heard. What the actual hell?!

  11. Perhaps but after your dead and your story.woth it , the art work will have a different meaning to someone else. in the end, it's all meaningless and art today is just another way of advertising yourself. Perhaps art meant something long ago. But now the corruption and how everything is fan art. Does it matter ur depressed or not? Cuz no one cares unless your put on a sticker on your artwork advertising for mental healthnesa, but at that point it's propaganda.
    In the end whatever works for you. Some people work better depressed and art helps them to feel something again. I stop watching at 346 so I don't know if u address this later.

  12. When i passed 2 months of "depression" i just found out that my art was shittier
    Now i actually look out for flaws, judge my work while still enjoining it and i still keep track of my friends, just a spoiler though, i'm a hobbyiest artist, so it might not work the same for ya

  13. i think its obvious why these people choose to nit became a furry. you see, a lot of people didn't have enought power to use a fursuit, in 2018 alone 1 milion people died from using a fursuit

  14. I would say that depression would unmotivate you to do art, but anything that will unmotivate you in just one day can lead you to not make anything in the long term.

  15. To me, art is the creation of a thinking emotional being meant to invoke emotion in another thinking emotional being. I find this definition since i find it works best to describe it.

  16. I've had sketches that I did out of depression of a boy huddled over surrounded by dark figures not looking at him, and I always throw them away. and now I know why

  17. Depression gives you self-doubt, and loss of confidence. You doubt if you wanted to post this certain art or not, because people might start to hate or criticize your art. How did I know? Personal experience.

    Depression makes you think you're a failure.

  18. Vincent van Gogh is the icon of depressed artists but he actually made his best work when he was in the hospital recovering best he could from his mental illnesses. People generally make better art when they love life, including the sad parts, and want to express it. But when you're depressed you don't want anything, you just want to stop.

  19. Great work as usual. This is an important subject so I'm glad you talked about it. Interesting point about honesty and pretentiousness. Maybe there's meaning in going through depression and then coming out of it in making art, but certainly not staying depressed in order to create!!

    "Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they’re like poison to the filmmaker or artist. They’re like a vice grip on creativity. If you’re in that grip, you can hardly get out of bed, much less experience the flow of creativity and ideas. You must have clarity to create. You have to be able to catch ideas.” (David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish)

  20. I’ve wanted to be able to draw for a long, long time, I want to take ideas in my noggin and turn them into tangible things, which would probably make me happy, since I’d finally have a medium to express myself, and let me say that being in a state of constant misery may be the worst possible emotional state imaginable for someone who wants to learn to draw, since anything you draw will be just as bad as the last, you’ll never get good, etc. etc. and you watch youtube all day.

  21. 5:59 I doubt someone can be the same person they were before. Experiences change and evolve you into a new person. The person you were before didn't have the experience of being depressed. I think it makes you a more empathetic and compassionate person to have experienced something.

  22. His honesty is really what makes his videos, or should I say art, so relatable and inspiring to watch.
    Today on youtube, instagram and every social media most people try to show all the fun and happy parts of their lives, leaving out some of the real and hard parts.
    This channel's videos are interesting, but the personality and truth behind it is what stands out and made me subscribe.

  23. I never made better art when depressed. But I did make art far more often. Why? Because I wasn’t doing any of the things you should do on a daily basis, like homework, cleaning, bathing, eating, sleeping. So in a way I was more productive and improving faster. But I wasn’t acting right, and art was really just an excuse/distraction from the fact I was letting my life fall apart. I’m much more satisfied nowadays, despite drawing maybe two or three times a week, because even though I’m barely improving at art, I’m also eating, sleeping, wearing clean clothes with washed hair, and I’ve got all Bs and As. I’m not perfect of course… but I’m functional. So in my experience being depressed can make you better at art, but not a better person.

  24. But, if i become the person i was before depression, i would be a literal child. My mental health has matured me (and my art) from an arguably young age and idk if this good or not

  25. I think what they're going for is melancholy, not depression. Melancholy is actually a normal state of mind for someone who has lost important things in their lives, whereas depression is just an emotional void.

  26. People just don’t see when artists shift from depression to overcoming it and using emotional experience in art

  27. Art is Art.
    Is what we do in life, it's what we are, its what art is.
    Its art.
    Just like how music is music.
    Or how writing is writing.
    Talking is talking.
    Its what it is.
    Poeple can call it diffrent things and define it.
    But it is what it is.
    Gross
    Weird
    Cool
    Awsome?
    what ever it is its beautiful.
    That's my statement.
    Art is beautiful.
    And everything, is a work of art.

  28. This is encouraging to hear. I have depression and let me say how its pretty much didnt help me with my art all the time. It just made me want to sleep all the time.

    depression can help me express some of these complicated emotions but dang it doesnt always help me pick up my art supplies and draw them out.

  29. Thank you <3 this perfectly describes my selfmade problems I am struggling with in my art. I believe you helped me open my eyes for these problems

  30. Great video. I don't know if this necessarily applies to written arts. I personally have MDD and, in my experience, my writing has been sharpened through it. However, to be fair, my depression makes me think that the only value, I have to offer is in my intelligence and art.

  31. Depression is actually a counteractive to Art. I know from experience. when I went through a stage of depression nothing got made.

  32. Ahh so that's why I really dislike happy things, it doesn't feel real. You put some key things into words, thanks for that.

  33. I personally have to feel upbeat to draw…the more depressed I become the more I seclude myself and pull away from means of self expression because what ends up coming out is just a reminder of my depression and I feel like it makes me feel worse sometimes. When I feel shitty I write stuff that puts it out but I don't like drawing. I feel like my drawing has always been a way to express good things.

  34. Being creative from a content well balanced life lets you more freedom to take risks and to express yourself in new ways, meanwhile if you're depressed either you quit arts because they are damn hard or you make your life entirely dependable on your art and its success, You start using art as a copying mechanism, and that only leads to be more depressed and awful art because you stop improving because you are too scared because your entire mood depends on how you make your art. It's a spiral.
    You can actually benefit your art from a sad moment in your life because they often work as a wake up all, you are dealing with a new pain in your life so you can invent a new way of dealing with it. But the key here is that these are just sad moments in one's life, you are dealing with some pain from a not-depressed life, you have the emotional tools and resources needed to deal with that pain.

    But being depressed is no help for improving at anything. If you are reading this and you think you might be depressed, please, seek professional help

  35. When I'm really sad I have a lot of [depression related] concepts that I want to draw, but I can't make anything good because all I want is to scribble as fast and hard as I can and hope that the drawing ends up being good — which doesn't happen. And when I'm ok I feel technically and mentally capable of creating good pieces, but I struggle a lot with the lack of creativity.

    Thanks for the video, Mattias. I'll start studying doggo anatomy and furry textures asap.

  36. I quit doing art and music for 2 years because I was depressed, I just felt so obligated to do it that I didn't find joy on doing it.

  37. My art isn’t better when I’m in a depressive episode (said depressive episode can actually make me not want to do art) nor when I’m happy. The emotions in my art change but ultimately it’s the same

  38. Depressed artist here: I have a hard time writing when I'm not depressed; and a major part of that is because art is how I vent and power through tough situations. Sure, I can improve the ideas in the meantime, but as for sculpting new ones; they just don't come out the same when I'm not struggling.

  39. lol
    Depression is the lack of energy to bring yourself to do things which are necessary or wanted.
    So, the answer is no. Please, take care of yourselves.

  40. Depression is the WORST thing for art because it LESSENS motivation most of the time.

    The artists who draw during this time who are doing so to distract themselves from the sadness.
    Even then most destroy the work due to it brings up those negative emotions they wanted to get away from.
    The ones who don't sometimes end up killing themselves due to these emotioms like Vincent Van Go who could have made more art if he didn't because he was making beautiful art long before his depression stage.

    The fact any art teacher says this makes me mad from both an artist and medicial student standpoint because nothing about that shit is true or healthly for any artist.

  41. You’d never know an artist is depressed because depressed people never tell u they’re depressed because the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness makes telling people how u feel seem as if it isn’t even worth it. That’s the difference between feeling sad and depressed

  42. As an artist with clinical depression, I love how you clarified that the appeal of artwork about depression is the Honesty that goes into it.

  43. a question to you though, since you brought up the dot in a white canvas. You said art is communication which I totally 100% agree. A good communication is one that coveys what each others mean correctly. Then, how is it a conversation when the artist put a dot with a purpose of "A" and the audience think B C D all the way to Z?

    This is just a question because I obviously have a strong opinion about those modern arts where there is no effort put into it and get praised. (while anime, manga or cartoons are frowned as being not art)

    love you video and message tho

  44. ok so I will tell you a story

    So I usually like SUCK at art like I can barely draw a stickman good, and one day (yesterday) ,I saw I got a C+ on my history test, and that was the worst grade I got for a test, and since the semester was ending, I couldnt retake, andd my parents really got disapointed at me, and I was disapointed at myself. Tomorrow(today) in history class, we were drawing something about colonies and stuff and was gonna play a game about it. We were gonna draw a character to play in the game, and I was having a hard time holding my tears. And I realized my hand was actually drawing a REALLY GOOD (well good for my standards) person, and I was drawin different and pretty cool patterns, making more effort on drawing I could have ever did and that effort actually turned out good. And guess what? In the same day, I saw this video… in my recomended. Like it was very clear. Idk what to say about this… but… this is a REAL story and I dont know how much of a consequence this is.

    look I dont really know what he says in the video cuz I didnt watch it but I had to write this…

  45. A life full of experience makes for a good story. An artist who had experienced a lot is bound to create interesting art pieces, whether they are depressed are not.

    I have known two people who have gone through a lot. My grandfather died a happy man and was extremely good at his respective medium of art. I also have a friend who currently is in a troublesome mental state but is also good at his respective medium of art. Both of them experienced so much throughout their respective lives, I believe these experiences helped them become a better artist.

    So for me, no I don't think depression makes good art, meaningful experiences do. Experiences don't have to be related to your preferred medium of art, it can simply be something like your first time traveling abroad or the feeling of getting rejected. So go out there and live life, be ready to experience one hell of a rollercoaster.

  46. hey mattias, i've been a subscriber for quite a long time now, and it makes me really happy to see you positively dealing with your own struggles and getting better
    as I said some times before, you've really helped me in dealing with my own problems, and your channel (and the second one!!!) became safe places to me, and inspiration for my own creative stuff
    it's just really good to me seeing this video, it feels like a conclusion of a episode of your life, and I hope that you continue to get better and posting this kind of stuff that really clicks with myself

  47. It's a dilemma for me. I don't like doing anything when I'm depress in general but if I wait until I'm happy to do something then I'll archive nothing either.

  48. I'd say I'm a pretty crushed person, with no desire to die but no desire to live either, or to do much of anything else. But this generally doesn't interact with my art in any way; it only tends to stand in the way of seeing any point in practicing over doing anything else that feels just as much like nothing. Maybe it makes me more willing to explore morbid subjects without flinching, but that's about it. It doesn't make me any better, practice does

  49. You have to experience life in the depression, and make the art inspired by it in your mania! Its a necessary creative cycle.

  50. For me, depression just quells every aspect of my art, right down to thinking about my art. I'll go for a few weeks without working on anything because I've briefly forgotten its something I do. Then comes thoughts of art combined with a general lack of motivation, the desire to create once more, and finally a roadblock that sends my spiralling back into the gray abyss.

    …it's not the most efficient way of doing things.

  51. My mother is a therapist, and we once had a talk about what depression is. She said, that chronically depressed people are literally unable to do anything. Everything tires them out, and they often barely have the motivation to even leave the bed and start the day. From reading other comments, and having faced depression in the past myself, I can confirm this statement. So yeah… depression doesn't make you a better artist, it makes you wanna quit everything and become a vegetable lol

  52. I think that becoming depressed AND THEN overcoming it is what make the art style really great. It's not the condition that made good art, but the experience.

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