Existential Dread of an Artist

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Consider this – you have mastered the art form that you have been practicing for ages, become the artist you wanted to be. You can now play your song perfectly, draw a flawless portrait, write a phenomenal poem but somewhere deep down you feel empty. Still under the impression that the day is yet to come, you spend your time longing and anticipating the day.

Some of us even forget that such a feeling of freedom exists, turning the process nothing but a monotonous caricature of a living nightmare with singular, desolate and rare moments of peace.

Photo by Timon Klauser on Unsplash

This hollowness is not unknown to a lot of artists – people who try to express. The emptiness even when you are being celebrated and are coherent among your peers is the true existential dread of an artist.

The experience of making art should free you. The mere purpose of art is to communicate. Stories are our essence, thoughts give us a meaning, opinions craft our identities, this cognitive awareness is what being human means.

Where we find ourselves convoluted is that we often tell stories that are influenced – adulterated. Although influences are what actually shape an artist and drive his originality, there is a thin line one needs to be aware of.

Telling a story just because an idea is popular or is trending separates you from being a niche among artists.

What I am underlying here although is that there is a true joy, a subtle relief that is inherently bound with the experience of being an artist. The release a genuine act of communication brings is just as climactic as falling snow.

Commercial success is a shot in the dark for the artist. One cannot predict the how’s or when’s of the game; if it is supposed to happen it will happen, otherwise no matter how hard you push yourself, the chances will never be in your favour.

Of course you can push your art, utilise the weapons of technology and study the intricacies of human behaviour to trigger certain responses to your thoughtful, well planned and exceptionally executed cues. Marketing in itself is another art form that takes a natural instinct to get a hold.

This should not be the goal though. Falling for what is expected of you, or what you ought to be doing renders the purpose of making art soul-less. The freedom that this process should bring you is abstract and not limited by a given proportional detail or some random comparison fundamental. It is lewd even for art.


I reiterate being aware of the thin line. It is easy to lose the subjectivity of your expression. Being objective is important, rather critical, but once the scope to look beyond into the abyss is lost and everything is streamlined, art turns into a product. And art doesn’t die when it is finished, its death is brought upon by the incoming barrage of tags.

Art is done when you put it under a label, and artist in a box.

I see many people struggling with their passions and dread their existence while so caught in the eternal blistering sun of consequences. But it feels way too lame to me. Of course, things get very serious sometimes – a little too real at times. I myself have been at the receiving end of things most of my life. I do understand however, but now all of it feels comedy to me.

The dread lies in the balance. The person who has mastered this underground, undefined and under-spoken art form of balance has the upper hand. Resolving issues turns into a routine, and with the order comes a super-human control over what to let in and when to let it go, and with this control comes in the societal validation and peer acceptance.

You can consciously initiate agitation within yourself, and it will be as genuine as mother nature itself. You can feel exactly what you need to, can assess the situation critically, be very observant of the behavioural changes, and most importantly you can watch yourself change – sometimes into a different being altogether.

Your principles shatter in front of you with no ethical dilemma misguiding or spoiling your change. It is truly organic. The difference being that irrespective of how intense the experience is, you are still in control.

Making art becomes a form of journaling, and you are not biased or hindered in anyway. You write exactly what you feel. That is when the realisation comes - what a stupid tag ‘an artist’ is, and how lame you have always been.

I guess you have to go through the intense turmoil of the storm in order to feel the calm sea. The dread is what makes you you.


Here is what I am projecting –

Art shouldn’t be the reason for your misery. It should soothe you, create a diversion through the mist of frustration. Art should relieve you.

Where we fail is at creating a balance between the ‘professional’ and the ‘artist’. But when are great artists truly professional? They screw things up, make a mockery of deadlines, personal goals are a vague concept, and life is just a living, breathing flow. This chaos being their source of art.

This balance is intriguing. It has been a subject of my conversations far too many times now. I feel myself pondering over the meaning and validity of a balance, and if I even ever stumble upon one, I lose the sense of it all the very second moment.

The thing with artists is that they are dumb, way too dumb for themselves.

The stupidity gives birth to their genius and their genius is a mass of confusion – a disoriented array of lines and melodies.

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