Showing posts with label Psychology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Psychology. Show all posts

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Art vs. Real Life - Being a "Creative Person" Is a Bad Excuse

For artists there seem to the two worlds: the world of art and "real life". While it might be legitimate to enjoy the former more than the latter it's dangerous to neglect one's everyday duties and responsibilities ...

If you don't care about anything else than your art,
you're destroying your own life and that of your loved ones.

Sometimes artists seem to live in another world. Here are all the hustles, daily needs and responsibilities - and there is that world of beauty and imagination. There is that world of creativity and endless possibilities. That world without limits.

We tend to glorify that world. But is there really no danger in it?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Guilty Pleasure of Lowbrow Art

People often like to differentiate between highbrow art and lowbrow art and look down on the latter. But is it really that low? Doesn't it have an important function in our lives? Do we really have to feel ashamed for enjoying it?

Many highbrow individuals enjoy lowbrow art as some kind of "guilty pleasure".

Having a master's degree in literature, I often feel obliged to adore highbrow art. Which I often do. Yet what I sometimes also adore is lowbrow art, even though I agree with all those critics saying it's garbage.

And I know I'm not alone. There are many fans of Fifty Shades of Grey who are intelligent, highly educated people, perfectly aware of all its flaws. But they enjoy the series nonetheless. As some kind of guilty pleasure.

So if lowbrow art does find fans among people who typically aren't supposed to like it - Is it still lowbrow art?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

What Is the Purpose of Art?

There are many people out there who believe art to be useless. And, on the surface, it is. However, in truth, it is one of the most important forces driving individuals and whole societies to become better versions of themselves ...

Art may not save lives in a biological sense, but it does save souls.

There are professions people respect more than others. There are people who save human lives, and there are people who just shove piles of paper across their desks. There are people who help other people to live a happy life, and there are people who work solely for the goal of making money.

And there also are artists. What do they do?

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Art and Self-Confidence - Feeling Your Art Is Garbage

A man's praise in his own mouth stinks? But what if your art actually is good? Artists often tend to be overly self-critical and lose sight of reality ...

Self-criticism is a core requirement for being a good artist.

Sometimes when looking at one's own art it does feel great. Yet more often than not, we tend to be overly self-critical and see our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Nikolai Gogol, for example, one of the greatest writers of Russian literature, is known for burning his manuscripts, including the sequel to his famous novel Dead Souls.

In my experience so far, most artists face this struggle, be it writers, painters, musicians ...

So what can we do about it?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Portrayal of Men in Media

What our culture defines as masculine hurts: If a man fails at being that perfect, invincible hero, he's a loser. Shouldn't we creative people help finding new heroes and role models?

A "real" man is the shining hero, the dragon slayer who never wavers,
always able to overcome even the hardest difficulties. This needs to change.

It is very common nowadays to see women as the misrepresented gender. And I can't argue with that. Being a woman myself, I do perceive issues with the portrayal of women in media.

However, having an egalitarian mindset, I can't look past the simple fact that patriarchy suppresses both genders. In different ways, yes, but both genders suffer. And while much has changed for women in the past decades little was done for men.

No, Men Do Not Have the Same Rights


Sure, the portrayal of women in media is still far from ideal. But we do talk about the issue. Much. We have a discussion. And sometimes we even have shitstorms.

But as for men ... With the old ideals being questioned nobody seems to even know what it means to be a man anymore. As a woman, you can choose how to live your life when it comes to career and family. On paper, men can choose, too. While in truth ...

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Good and Evil in Stories

Interesting, complex characters aren't "grey", since grey is still only a mixture of black and white. Good characters have colour. And for that storytellers need to shift more towards an alternative worldview ...

The very idea that there is only one true god expresses that
there is only one right way to think and to live and everything else is bad and linked to evil forces.

One advice storytellers often hear is not to make their characters black or white but grey. Everybody seems to be fed up with shiny, good, pretty heroes fighting evil queens, overlords and their ugly henchmen. So the advice is to put both good and evil into one's own characters, to blend black and white into various shades of grey. This, people say, turns two-dimensional characters into complex three-dimensional characters.

However, what people often forget is that grey is, still, a mixture of black and white. It technically isn't even a colour. "Grey" is still a symptom of a two-dimensional, even deeply religious worldview.

Good, Evil and Religion


I'm not quite sure when this binary perception of the world first was created, but there's no denying that monotheistic religions eagerly make use of it. The very idea that there is only one true god expresses that there is only one right way to think and to live and everything else is bad and linked to evil forces.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why Contests Are Crap

Awards don't say much about the artworks they were given for. Contests promise to determine the best, but they rarely actually do it. Here's why ...

Contests say very little about quality. An artwork approved by other people often is good,
yet it doesn't mean it's better than a non-award-winning artwork.

I hate contests. I did participate a couple times, a few times I even won, and I hate them. Because, in my honest opinion, they often don't deliver the quality they promise. At least, personally I rarely agree with the results and see them as highly subjective.

The problem here is how the winner is determined ...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Why Do Artists Procrastinate?

You really can't compare procrastinating something unpleasant to procrastinating art. One of the most common explanations for procrastination is fear. Is it also true for creativity?

It's the hurdle of remembering the invisible, intuitive part that costs me extra effort.

One of the most common problems artists face is the creative block which I believe is in truth procrastination, as I wrote in another article. There is an endless variety of great ideas for dealing with creative procrastination all over the internet, but I never stumbled over an explanation why we procrastinate art in the first place. I mean, I did find explanations, but none of them felt right to me so far.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Are Artists an Intellectual and Moral Authority?

Famous artists are often treated like some kind of superhumans with an accordingly superhuman authority, even on subjects they have nothing to do with. What are the consequences?

We can't trust anyone expressing his or her opinion publicly.
And how can we consider someone so untrustworthy an intellectual and moral authority?

You see this quote often. Artists, let's say the actors Ex and Why, say that Donald Trump is bad, that everyone should work together to fight world hunger, cancer and dictatorships, that misogyny is horrible and so on. And for some reason the more widely known Ex and Why are, the more weight their words get. As if famous artists weren't just normal humans like you and me.

Getting famous people to support one's cause is an old, widely known and widely used marketing strategy that benefits both sides: People, organizations and everyone whose agenda Ex and Why support get more attention and more money (if they collect donations). And since artists usually support causes that are considered good by most people, they get more positive attention by the media, more popularity and eventually more money.

Famous artists are people looked up to. Their opinion matters. Even if it is wrong, opportunistic or just a marketing strategy. Isn't it questionable?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why Is Art Lying?

When we were little artworks taught us lessons about the world that turned out to be lies as we grew older. Every one of us has faced such disappointments in life. Every one of us knows how they hurt. So why do we keep passing these lies on to younger generations?

We keep passing on stories about great heroes from generation to generation. - Why?

Last week I had a discussion with a colleague who said she was disappointed in men. She is not the first woman I heard saying this. And definitely not the last. Moreover, I was disappointed in men too, and I've come across quite a few men who said they were disappointed in women. It seems that from a certain age on most of us are disappointed, be it in love or another area of life.

The culprit here is not other people or this oh-so-cruel world but rather our own expectations. Expectations shaped by the first years of our life. Expectations to some extent shaped by the stories, myths and motifs we were exposed to as children.

Sooner or later, however, we get a taste of the real world. We learn that all those stories about great heroes slaying dragons, true love and the good always defeating evil are lies. This realization is often traumatizing. So why do we keep telling those lies from generation to generation?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Why Do We Create Art? - What an Overdose of Caffeine Has Taught Me About Art

A caffeine overdose has taught me that writing is my reason to live.

About two years ago there was a day when I had too much caffeine. I suffered from insomnia and to fix my inability to concentrate I was taking caffeine pills and drank much coffee; additionally, I was stressed and depressed which resulted in lost control over the amount of caffeine I consumed. So when night fell I experienced the worst caffeine shock of my life.

To say I couldn't sleep would be an understatement. Even though with my brain I knew my symptoms weren't that dangerous (compared to the symptoms people actually die from) I still had a really bad anxiety attack. Well, it wasn't that bad that I lost control over myself. In fact, I was still pretty capable of pondering about whether I could handle it myself or whether I should call the ambulance. And in the end it all turned out very well for me: I didn't need any medical help, I somehow managed to force myself to lie down and wait all night until the anxiety ebbed away and I didn't consume more caffeine than one cup of coffee or black tea per day ever since.

So what does this life lesson have to do with art? Well, while half of my brain was still functional and allowed me to reflect on my condition the other half was convinced I would drop dead any minute. I had that instinctive, savage fear we usually have when facing serious danger. So my state was a bit like standing in a burning house with all your senses telling you you're going to die while with your brain still understanding that the burning house is only an illusion. The animal inside wants to run for safety while the brain knows you only have to wait.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Art and Ambition - A Wish Upon an Eclipse

The most important wish of all is not to lose sight of one's dreams.

September 2016 is an eclipse season. Astrologers say that these constellations of sun and moon bring big changes, especially to the signs affected by them. Both the solar and the lunar eclipse in September are either in or opposite Virgo, the sun sign of this blog (as September 17th is its birthday) and my own ascendant. In other words: Apparently it's my chance to make wishes. This is why I decided to write this rather unusual post.

So what does an aspiring artist and blogger wish for?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Art vs. Real Life - How Does Art Benefit Us?

Creating art is a very emotional process which may be the main reason why it's often described as "to express oneself".

Last week Na├»ve Gnostic commented on many of my blog posts via Google+ and we had several interesting discussions. Some of them were about the educational function of art, catharsis and that art sometimes feels like psychotherapy. Since I planned a post covering all these aspects anyway, I took it as a sign it's about time to finally write it.

By now I've written down quite a few thoughts on the relationship between art and artist on this blog. Trying to sum up my general experience, I'd say that creating art is a very emotional process which may be the main reason why it's often described as "to express oneself". For some creating art is a way of escapism, fleeing into their own fantasy world. For others art is a way to cope with their experiences and emotions, even traumata. There are even people who use art for some kind of academic exploration, speculation or even presentation of one's research findings. And there are also people for whom art is all this at once.

Art and Psychology


It always has a reason why an artist creates a certain type of work or why an art lover appreciates certain genres. There's also the fact that art can be used as therapy. This summer I've helped filming a documentary about psychological painting. In one of the interviews it was mentioned that adult non-artists who come to a seminar and paint for the first time often struggle with using colours - an issue that can be fixed if they paint only with black for a while. This says much about the world we live in, I guess.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Violence in Games and Other Media: Artistic Irresponsibility and the Forbidden Fruit Effect

People tend to show interest in things that are considered "bad".

Do violent games and TV shows spoil our youth? Every time this question pops up it triggers heated discussions. So it was only a matter of time until I felt I had to say something on this topic as well. And so ... Here are my two cents:

I'd like to start the discussion with a few things I believe we all can agree on:
· There are many people regularly enjoying violent media, but only a small percentage among them shows violent behaviour. 
· Countless studies prove that there actually is a link between media violence and violence in society. Whether gamers and fans of other violent media like it or not. However, it can't be said for sure whether violent media causes violence or whether it merely affects a pre-existing potential for violence. 
· Apart from violent media there are countless other factors that can lead to violent behaviour, such as domestic violence or child neglect, poverty, violent neighbourhood and so on. People can be taught to be aggressive and to accept such behaviour as normal. 
· There are people who are more aggressive and people who are more pacifistic just by nature. 
· Researching the effects of media violence is a difficult task, because these effects can't be seen immediately.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Are Artists Unhappy People?

Unhappiness seems to be an artist's constant companion.

I stumbled over this question when browsing my idea list for this blog and decided ... Well, this is a question that keeps haunting me, so I decided it's about time to answer it.

The reason why I keep asking myself this question is simple: Whenever I read an artist's biography I always note that he or she had a pretty difficult life - if not for political or social reasons it were depression, a sickness, an addiction ... Or everything at once. I also note that people who seem content with their life and society often aren't very creative, just as if they don't feel the need for that. - Well, no, there is creativity in them, but it seems more practical: decorating their home, baking cookies ... No great, revolutionary stuff, if you know what I mean.

Last but not least, there's myself, the person I know best and watch all the time. Fighting suicidal thoughts since my teenage years, I wouldn't describe myself as a happy person. And as a matter of fact, I do feel a connection between my general unhappiness and my writing.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Self-Insert Out of Control, or The Creepiest Writing Experience Ever

Valley does what she wants. That's what she's like in the story, and that's how she behaves towards me.

Fanfiction wouldn't let me go. While I write novel-length fanfictions my original works somehow always turn out to be short stories. I've even managed to turn ideas for original novels into short stories. Don't ask me how I did that. One of my readers said about one of them that it seemed like a trailer. ... Well, I don't know. Maybe one day I'll actually make a novel out of my Log Out short story. Maybe. ;)

For now I'm cursed with fanfiction. In 2013 I actually planned to start writing an original novel, yet ... I came across Assassin's Creed III and its Protagonist Connor Kenway and I didn't have another choice than to write a fanfiction in order to release that squealing fangirl inside of me, so she'd let me alone. I still made the best out of the situation by writing that fanfic in English and thus improving my language skill.

And I also made an interesting experience with a self-insert character who started to make autonomous decisions.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Make Art, Not Procrastination! - 10 Tips to Overcome a Creative Block

Step 1: Go to wherever you usually work.
Step 2: Get started.

Procrastination ... It follows us everywhere, and sometimes it haunts us even when we're doing something we enjoy. I think the only thing you can't procrastinate is watching cat videos on YouTube. And as an artist, you can procrastinate art. In fact, I believe that a creative block is nothing else than procrastination. Just plain, banal procrastination. So just erase this romantic "creative block" euphemism from your vocabulary. It's procrastination. And in order to overcome it you have to treat it as procrastination.

You don't believe me? Well, this is how I experience a "creative block": First I notice that I didn't write anything for a long time. I don't really feel like writing, I haven't been feeling like writing for weeks, but I don't wait for "inspiration", open the file and stare at the white space. My head feels numb and squeezing out words from my brain feels just as reasonable as trying to squeeze toothpaste from an empty tube. All depressed because of the failure I decide to make a pause and watch cat videos on YouTube. I watch and watch and watch until I realize that it's time to go to bed. Nonetheless I open my file, hoping that "inspiration" will come, since night is its favourite time of day. Yet after staring at the empty space for some more time I call it a day and hope that tomorrow it'll be better. But the story just repeats itself.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Artists and Feedback - The Eternal Lecture of Feedback Tides

If you don't even know whether there's anyone out there even noticing your existence
it's really hard to remain self-confident.

Not to get any feedback for your art is depressing. And it's even more depressing if it happens after a phase when you could almost swim in feedback. I publish my written works since 2004 on the internet, so I had much time to observe my emotional reactions to feedback in different situations.

Of course my subjective feelings can't be applied to everyone. Yet I've noticed - and other artists may have noticed it as well - that not only the quality and quantity of feedback for a particular artwork play a role but also the artist's own attitude towards that artwork and how much feedback the artist gets in general.

Personally I've went through many emotional phases: