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The Emotional Impact of Art for the Artist

Although art is, perhaps obviously, most often meant to invoke a reaction from its observer, the emotional impact of art for the artist himself (or herself) should not be overlooked. The act of conceptualizing, performing, and sharing the piece can be wrought with strong feelings throughout, with a wide range of reactions experienced in the process. The following is by no means a complete list of possible artist feelings, but highlights a few of the strongest impacts that art has for their artist.

Catharsis

Whether in painting images, composing lyrics, writing stories, or exploring other forms of artistic expression, often the motivation for such expressing is derived from the prior life experiences of the artist. With certain intentions, this action can become therapeutic. Catharsis is the idea that using one’s pain as the muse to form art can be a healthy release of dark, painful feelings. It can be very emotionally grueling, but beneficial, for an artist to take out some of their unpleasant memories to help shape the artwork. Many artists throughout history have portrayed some rather grotesque scenes, but found it helpful to release some of their inner darkness onto the canvas and out of their soul.

Joy

Hopefully, an artist enjoys creating art. After all, most people would be very happy to find a vocation they are fond of that is financially sustainable as well.  Even in the case of the “starving artist” archetype, the concept is that regardless of monetary gain, many artists view the creation of art as a worthy endeavor, to the point of providing them a fulfillment and satisfaction that they cannot find elsewhere. Some feel it is their very purpose to create art, and it gives them a joy that nothing else can replace or emulate.

Belonging

Maybe for the creative-minded outcast that sat alone in the corner of the cafeteria in high school, later discovering a peer group of artists was a life-changing, purpose-driven event. One could dare say that, for many creatively bent people, a community of fellow art-creators stands as their only chance of being understood and accepted within a supportive community. It is no secret that finding a “tribe” is an important human function, as evidenced by cliques that form and the rampant success of violent gangs in their recruitment. For artists, creating their art and collaborating on visionary projects can finally offer them a true sense of tribal communion, even family.

Stress

Then there is the part where the artist puts their art on exhibit. When examining the emotional impact of art for the artist, it is necessary to consider not only the effort to create the work, but also display it, and take on the vulnerable act of displaying it to the world. Although every artist would like their audience to enjoy it, there is often an understandable human anxiety involved when it comes to the moments before knowing how observers will react. What will the critics think? Will it sell? Should I even care what anyone thinks? These are significant questions, and ones that can cause quite a bit of nervousness for any artist.

Art is an extraordinarily intractable, complex subject. It would only follow, then, that delving the emotional impact of art on the artist would, too, be quite a complicated survey. Nonetheless, as some artists fit the mold of the emotional “sensitive type” and others fight to buck such views, further inner turmoil and triumph is inevitable, with an audience in line to see its fruits.

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