Four Reasons Why Creativity Gets Glamourised

Pictured: Not a realistic depiction of an artist.

Pictured: Not a realistic depiction of an artist.

Although this is an article about things like art, writing, making comics etc.. I’m going to have to start by talking about something slightly different for a couple of paragraphs. There’s a good reason for this that I hope will become obvious later.

This was because this article was prompted by watching a videogame review/discussion show on Youtube. This was one of those shows that involved a group of critics having a laugh and talking informally about games – and it was the kind of show that makes videogame criticism seem like a really awesome thing.

But, rationally, I know that a show like that is probably a lot less fun to make than it looks. After all, there are probably hours of grinding prep work that go into every “informal” video (eg: collecting and editing game footage, planning some of the more comedic dialogue etc..). Likewise, there’s probably a lot of hassle with lighting, cameras, make up, video editing, production schedules etc.. too.

Yet, just looking at the show, it seemed really glamourous. It was the kind of show that makes you want to be a “real” videogame critic on Youtube (rather than, say, occasionally writing rambling game reviews on a blog). But, the reason I mention it is because it is the perfect example of creativity being shown as more glamourous than it actually is.

So, why does this happen? Here are a few of the many reasons:

1) Self-esteem: I’m an artist who makes daily paintings (albeit quite a while in advance of when they’re posted here). Although I really like making art, being an artist can be a boring, mundane, annoying and chore-like thing sometimes. Yes, I get uninspired sometimes (and still try to make art nonetheless). No, I don’t have a large, dedicated studio.

And, no, I’m not some kind of wild bohemian who drinks absinthe every day and goes to all of the cool parties.

Yet, this stylised image of a “cool artist” is something that some artists like to spread because, well, it makes us feel cool. It makes the sometimes mundane and ordinary task of making art seem like something a bit more meaningful or special. It also makes other people think that we’re cool. So, yes, unrealistic depictions of “cool” artists exist just to improve the self-esteem of actual artists. Whose lives are usually a lot more boring than either they or the media might make you think.

Likewise, the myth of the “talented artist” is another thing that makes artists look cool. But, the fact is that artists aren’t usually born with “artistic talent”, they learn it through regular practice over a significant period of time – just like any other skill. Even the most “talented” artists probably have at least a few extremely clumsy early works somewhere. Why? Because every artist is inexperienced when they start making art. Yet, people can be put off from becoming artists because of this silly myth about “talent”.

Likewise, artists who always appear to be inspired either don’t show off the things they make when they aren’t inspired, or they’ve learnt how to take inspiration, or they make lots of notes when they are inspired, or they’re experienced enough that even an “uninspired” painting looks good etc.. No artist is inspired 100% of the time! Any artist who claims to always be inspired is probably just trying to make themselves look good.

2) Creative people create things: Generally, most “glamourous” depictions of creativity can be found in other creative works. Films about writers, comics about videogames, novels about musicians etc… That sort of thing.

If you create things regularly, then creativity is an easy subject to write or draw about. Likewise, there’s probably a certain element of “I wish that the thing I do regularly was even cooler” or “I wish I was making films, videogames etc… instead, so I’ll write about it“, which might also explain why stories, comics etc… about creativity tend to glamourise the subject quite a bit.

Because, well, creativity is all about imagination rather than boring realism.

3) Because cool things are created: Generally speaking, the audience often only gets to see the cool-looking end product of the creative process (eg: the novel, the comic, the painting etc..). As such, it can be easy to assume that the rest of the creative process was equally cool or glamourous.

Although making a highly-inspired creative project can be an amazing experience, it’s rarely (if ever) as glamourous or cool as the actual end product is. Usually, it just involves sitting in front of a computer screen and/or a sketchbook for varying periods of time. In other words, it looks really really boring from the outside. All of the seriously cool stuff tends to happen within the writer’s or the artist’s imagination, rather than in the real world.

Likewise, creative people who have created great things whilst living wild and glamourous lives have usually made those things despite all of the “glamourous” distractions, not because of them. Creating cool things means sitting down and putting the effort into actually making those things.

4) Because it should be: Despite all of my earlier cynicism in this article, I can’t think of anything that is more deserving of glamourisation than creativity. After all, many of the world’s advancements in culture, technology etc.. have been the products of creativity (just look at all of the inventions that have been inspired by “Star Trek”).

All of our imaginations and lives are shaped by the numerous creative works we encounter throughout our lives. Creative works can help us to make sense of the world and to find meaning in life. Creative works can make us feel a gigantic range of emotions, like a real-life Penfield Mood Organ, using just images, sounds, words etc..

I can’t think of anything else more deserving of glamourisation.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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Four Ways To Feel Like A Glamourous Artist

2014 Artwork Glamourous Art sketch

The fact is that being an artist unfortunately isn’t usually the most glamourous path in life. Yes, there’s the occasional “famous artist” who ends up in the media and there are a lot of thoroughly cool bohemian artists throughout history.

But, most of the time, creating art can just feel fairly ordinary. And, if you watch any videos about art on Youtube, then you’ll probably just see lots of footage of ordinary people painting or drawing.

Like with writing, there’s a lot of cool cultural mythology that surrounds art – but the basic process of making most types of art is quite similar to writing. Basically, you just sit in a room and work on something for anything between a few minutes and a few hours.

Lots of cool stuff can happen, but it only usually happens in your imagination and on the page (or canvas). And, yes, most serious artists don’t get into making art because it’s “cool” or whatever.

In fact, this whole thing is probably something of a litmus test to see whether you actually want to be an artist. If you’re getting into art purely because you want to be “cool”, then you probably aren’t going to stick with it for that long.

If you want to be “cool”, then buy some interesting clothes, listen to some trendy music or become a micro-celebrity on Twitter or whatever. There are plenty of easier ways to be cool than spending years learning an art form and practicing every day.

Still, even the most practical artist probably wants to feel glamourous and cool every now and then. There’s no point having an amazingly cool cultural mythology surrounding what we do and not taking advantage of it every now and then in order to keep our spirits up.

So, here are four ways to feel like a glamourous artist when your artistic work feels like the most mundane and “ordinary” thing in the world.

1) Art history: Whether you read a book about art history, watch a documentary on TV, watch history videos on Youtube or just look at articles on Wikipedia – it can be useful to look back at the periods of history when art was a much more vibrant thing that was widely loved and respected by everyone. You know, the periods of history when artists were the “rockstars” of the day.

Whether it’s editorial cartoonists in 1920s-1950s Britain, whether it’s the “Young British Artists” in the 1990s, whether it’s the Pre-Raphaelites in 19th century London, the impressionists in 19th century Paris or even well-respected Ukiyo-e printmakers in 17th-19th century Japan – there have been plenty of times throughout history when artists have been as widely popular and glamourous as celebrities are today.

Don’t ask me why, but doing even a small amount of research into these parts of history can really boost your spirits and remind you that being an artist can be a cool thing. Not only that, it might make you wonder what the next art-obsessed period of history will be – who knows, you might even end up being part of it?

2) Write a manifesto: Yes, this is pretentious as hell, but there’s nothing like writing an art manifesto in order to feel “trendy” or “cool”.

If you’ve never read one of these before, it’s basically a short list of numbered bullet points which sum up an artist’s philosophy about their art or their type of art. I tried to write one for this blog (based on my “fast art” article) in February, but found it too laughably terrible to post here.

Anyway, art manifestos are usually written in a very melodramatic and pretentious way and they can often be unintentionally hilarious. But, especially with any kind of “modern art”, they’re pretty much mandatory and they are somehow a sign that you should be taken seriously as an artist. Don’t ask me why.

Still, if you have any new ideas about art and you’ve written a manifesto, then you can at least say that you’ve started an art movement. And I can’t think of anything cooler than that.

3) Make cool art: If making art feels “dull” or “mundane”, then this might be a sign that you’re making dull or mundane art. You’re making art that doesn’t feel “cool” to you.

So, go on – make something that really amazes you. Make something (even if it’s just fan art) that you, and you alone, think is really cool and interesting.

Believe me, it’s impossible to feel like what you’re doing is “boring” or “uncool” when you’re making a painting like this:

"Chainmail and Chainsaws" By C. A. Brown

“Chainmail and Chainsaws” By C. A. Brown

4) Watch TV Shows: No, don’t just watch any TV shows – watching the news will probably depress you and watching reality TV or talent shows will probably make you lose all faith in humanity.

No, watch sci-fi/fantasy/detective/drama shows which feature a group of characters who do something incredibly cool on a regular basis.

Then, and this is the fun part, try to imagine your daily art practice as being something comparable to what the characters in this show do. After all, it’s something unusual you do every day, like how the characters in the TV show do something unusual every day. This is kind of weird and hard to explain, but it can really help to revitalise your enthusiasm about your art.

If you’re still not sure what kinds of shows to watch, then I’d recommend an American sci-fi show from the 1990s/2000s called “Stargate SG-1”. It features a group of soldiers and scientists who use alien technology to travel to a variety of interesting planets and also save the world on an occasional basis.

Seriously, if you want a “doing cool stuff every day” kind of show, then you can’t go wrong with “Stargate SG-1”.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂