Today’s post went in a totally other way I acutally planned it because of the sad things happening the last days. When I planned the post I wanted to write something about the vulnerability of artists’ souls and why so many brilliant personalities in music, arts and film are coming to such sad endings. Is there a link between creativity and mental health which make creative souls struggle more often than others. Or do mental health decide who becomes a successful artist? But the main topic should have been my own inspiration in music. I changed the topic due to the very sad news of this week.
I tried not to write to much about the things that have happened but some links may contain triggers for affected persons. For confidential support on mental health please call for help at the crisis advice services of your country.
Why do creative souls struggle the most?
Different artists and bands write the soundtrack of our life. And especially the songs that brought us through the dark times mean the most to us afterwards. Texting about those things in an authentic way needs own experience with those situations and feelings. One of the seven elements of a creative character is emotional volatility. “They sense the world around them very strongly, and they tend to worry […] some of them even like to worry” – according to Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen of BI Norwegian Business School.
Or as Pink said once “I am not working, if I am too happy.” Arts or music can be fantastic ways to cope with your own demons. So it is ok to worry a lot because you have an outlet for your emotions in your creative work. That is why I have to “work” in my leisure time because I need an outlet for all my worries, troubles and struggles in daily life. But I am happy that I decided not to make my living by my creative work.
As you may have read in my personal introduction I am working as a financial analyst next to my work as an artist. This structured work helps me to get the head out of the clouds. First I did not chose it this way. On the other hand I always wondered how my favorite artists and bands endure singing those songs about personal lows again and again to entertain us. Dealing through arts and music with problems to let them go works perferctly well. But I have some works I do not want to see at the moment or share them with someone. If I made my living of my art – I guess I would have to.
Putting a tiny bit of your soul into every piece of work
Create something always means to put a tiny bit of your soul into your work. But do we handle the works of our with the care we should? One thing that always made me refuse to hire somewhere as a designer was that I am too sensitive for criticism – or at least for how it is done today. Reading articles of film or music critics today makes me really mad – and it is even not my work they are pulling to pieces. Why not try to write in I-messages (“I find it…”, “In my opinion…”)? This works perfectly well in business meetings.
Today it is 6 years ago that Amy Winehouse was found dead. One of the great voices in the soundtrack of my life. I remember listining to her songs in my fashion school while drawing. I see myself singing “They tried to make me go to rehab…” after the divorce of my first husband and me which was one of my personal lows. When I listen to music, I listen just to the music and the lyrics. I am not interested in details about the artist like what is their favorite lunch or something like that. If listening between the lines of the lyrics you will even hear more intimate stories.
But what shocked me because I could not ignore it was how the yellow press documented Amy’s struggle. And they did so because we wanted to read about these stories. A happy and sober Amy did not work. Scandals sell. Earning as long as she was around. I missed her voice during that time hoping she would manage to change her track. Now we will never hear her voice again.
What inspired me about Amy and her music was this vintage flair without sounding or looking old fashioned. When I prepared for my final exam my first plan was to combine music and fashion in one collection “Music was my first love” (as you know I decided on children’s clothing instead). I sat down this week finishing an illustration I started back then. Remarkable about Amy was that you could tell about her feeling by her styling. The higher the beehive and the thicker the eyeliner the more she felt insecure about herself.
Holding on – why is everything so heavy?
This week we sadly lost another great voice – Chester Bennington. Linkin Park is not only one of the bands in the soundtrack of my life but one of the very rare examples where the taste in music of me and my husband meet. What we admire the most is that Linkin Park developed their music and style from one album to the next. A new musical style with every new work an Chester’s incomparable voice as the constant. But while other artists are cristizised for too less development Linkin Park often was blamed for this experimenting by both critics and fans.
As said before good art or music is always a bit of surprise – I like albums which make me wondering whether I like them or not when first hearing them. Songs that need to be heard carefully for every detail. And music that makes you listen carefully. Album you need to get used to first before you can play them as backround music. So keeping in mind what I said about today’s critics when reading what Chester said in an last interview to people calling the last change in musical style a marketing strategy:
“For any band to take musical risks because you like what you’re doing in spite of what you know some people will say they don’t like, it doesn’t matter if they like it or not. What matters is that you took the chance to do something that you felt was important to you and that’s what being an artist is all about.”
Coping with actual problems
I followed a discussion on facebook about Heavy a few months ago. Some comments of so called fans where so hateful I just asked myself if they ever created something themselves in their lifes knowing how such words can hurt. I do not think that you need to like everything to be a fan but you should accept every work of your artist. Speaking about your opinion instead of telling it as a fact can help a lot to express your feelings without hurting anyone.
When doing the research for this article I found also interviews that the topics of the actual album One more light are more present than the problems the former album dealed with. While the common opinion in the mentioned facebook thread was that Chester’s voice did not fit the music I found he sounds so vulnerable. Since the releasing this song brings tears to my eyes. As I used to listen to at least one song of Linkin Park a day Chester’s death feels like the death of an old friend. And it reminds me to the loss of my brother who fought the same demons all of his life. I guess this song will bring tears to my eyes from now on forever. But I hope that we all will find a way to treat artists more respectful in the future.
I just made a new sketch for this post as a tribute to Chester.