"The Suffering Artist" Cliché (Gaming)

by Robot Chickens, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, 13:11 (1427 days ago) @ CruelLEGACEY

While i’m sure you’re on to something with the whole romanticization of the “starving artist” cliche, I don’t think that exhausts the issue. I have met many posers over the years. People who try to play the part of a starving artist because it seems like a hip thing to do when you’re 22 years old. But 2 or 3 years later, they’re inevitably working at a bank or an office, taking care of themselves, moving on with their life. They grow out of it, because they soon realize “hey, this isn’t particularly fun”. It also isn’t always accurate. I know many artists who are successful. As I said right at the start of this whole thing, the stereotype that a true artist must be broke is pure BS, IMO. What some people miss is that it is very possible to be rich and still have problems, imbalances, issues that haunt or drive you, etc. And THAT is the element that every artist I’ve ever known, met, or heard of has in common; some greater than average fixation on something which at the very least borders on obsessive.

I have a friend who is a designer. He works passionately to make the user experience of receiving insulin from pumps the best it can be. He is also an artist- music, painting, woodworking. He's taking care of his and his family's monetary needs but he still produces some of the best art I know. He's found ways to balance his work, his family, and his need to create without having a personality defect. He is super thoughtful, self-aware, and although he is acquainted with suffering, he does not rely upon it to produce art at the cost of his other life commitments.

I think what you describe is a common experience for artists, but you subtly slip into universalizing this experience and defining what true art is out of this universalized experience. My friend does not fit this trend and I know he's not alone.

Further thoughts:

Experience is the fuel of art. Sometimes that is suffering, sometimes it's something else. Art resonates with us when it rings true in a non-superficial way. Often, that means we are conditioned to recognize suffering because so much of our lives mask suffering. Often, we are told to interpret our lives in ways that make it more palatable to others. When art honestly reflects our experience or shows us new ways to interpret our experience, we recognize it as true. However, suffering is not the gate through which art must pass to achieve this resonance in our lives. Joy** is hard to capture, but when we find it in art, it can be exhilarating. Art not only reflects, but it can point to something new.

All that to say, I'm not comfortable with the idea of reducing art to the byproduct of one particular fuel.

**My personal sense is that joy is must be acquainted with suffering (as opposed to happiness), but it is not dependent upon it. It's complicated though.

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