Do drugs make for better art?

Recently I watched a news item on the BBC News website which asks whether ex-drug addict artists could produce good work? Or at least, it asks, could they, once drug free, produce art of the same high standard as that which they produced under the influence? The article is very interesting and it puts forwards valid points for both sides of the argument, yet it concludes that, yes, they can, and the art they produce whilst under the influence is valid (and perhaps just different).

This gets my creative juices flowing

This gets my creative juices flowing

This article interests me for many reasons. Firstly, I find that I can’t draw or paint as well if I’ve had alcohol and I don’t feel particularly inspired if I’ve had a glass of wine. So to me that indicates that drugs do not help creativity. If anything, it feel as if I am having a break from creative thinking if I’ve had some wine to drink.

However, if I drink that other legal and common drug, caffeine, I feel very inspired and fired up for work. I love coffee. I feel content and complete if I have a large Americano mid-morning. After that coffee, I feel the ideas come to me, the energy flows and the desire to create is heightened. So for me, drugs, depending on the type, both help and hinder me with my creative outflow.


This doesn't make me want to get my paintbrush out

This doesn’t make me want to get my paintbrush out

I can’t comment on potent or illegal drugs not having taken any myself, but I remember someone with depression telling me once that they are only creative when they aren’t taking antidepressant medication. They found that the antidepressant medication stifled their creativity. When they were depressed and anxious, but without medication, the ideas flowed. So is that the choice? A life free of anxiety (and full of sedating-type drugs) or a life full of art (and stimulating drugs or no drugs at all)?

It that stimulating drugs (caffeine) and an over-stimulated mind (madness) spur creativity yet sedating drugs (a big glass of wine) or mind-calming drugs (antidepressants) stifle it?

As has been observed here before (and by many others), many creative people suffer from anxiety and depression (the cliche of the ‘mad artist’). So perhaps there are a lot of creative types who face this dilemma.

I think I have to accept my life as a caffeine-fueled creative madwoman if I am to continue as a part-time artist. However, I will enjoy a glass of wine when I want a break from thinking about paint.

That explains why I, and other artists, love coffee shops so much.

Strong coffee and sketch pad - the two essential ingredients for an arty farty image

Strong coffee and sketch pad – the two essential ingredients for an arty farty image


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