****DISCLAIMER**** before I get into this subject I would like it clearly stated that I never experment with drugs until I had graduated high school and that anything they ever gave me, they took a great deal more. this was written as we currently live in a culture consistently promoting the notion of drugs being “no big deal”. Which I guess they are not if you can control them and use them recreationally. history consistently proves other wise. Maybe the machine works best all it’s sheep are lined up and ready for the slaughter?!? if you are 16 and getting high at 7:30 am or 4:20 gives you a sense of Identity drugs are a band aid for something bigger.
So through out history people have wondered what stimulates creativity, makes genius’ create great works of art and come up with “alternative” ideas to the norm. When looking back one can clearly see a link between drugs and creative thought. At least that is the one ideal a certain segment of society will point it’s figure towards. Wether it was the Beatles dropping LSD, Kurt Cobain shooting H, Hunter S Thompson doing all the above and adding a little extra, it seems there is a direct correlation between art and drugs. There are those who even state Plato took hallucinogenics while in the cave before or while writing the theories a great deal of modern society is based on. Ideas created through hallucinations of from shadows seen on the wall. That is a pretty heavy thought considering he is one of the major philosophers of western civilization.
Now I am no history expert but I know my fair share of things about creativity, I also studied a great deal about drugs. If nothing else to justify taking them. Anybody who knows me would tell you I had a liking for a tab of this or a pill of that through out my days. So who better to cut it you straight then a guy who created original art, broke boundaries and rules of what creativity was to give it you. Yeah I know I am tooting my own horn the proof is in the pudding as they say cause I have yet to see any other freak who created cool drawings like this out of written word.
So to start off with one of the many, many reasons I got into the creative arts, was SEX, DRUGS and ROCK N ROLL. I was greatly influenced by rock from the 70’s and artists from the cafes of France at the beginning of the century. At just over 40 I had my share of it all. Looking back you realize you make some mistakes and seeing the lives you now influence makes you realize you have an obligation to others, especially in a world that sensationalize the shit outta everything to a youth oriented culture. I will be the first to state and it has taken years to accept this, I came from a place of very low self esteem, I lacked self confidence and in truth at a very young age was told by the system I wouldn’t make much of myself. Which would not have mattered if I had not believed them, unfortunately I did.
So when it came time to make decisions in my life I wasn’t shooting to high. I was a skinny whimp, did not consider myself very smart, and wished for death long before life even started. What I did have was an explosive amount of energy and a creative mind. As such, as a young boy the heroes I looked too were often those who never fit in and had yet somehow managed to make it beyond the expectations of society. I found visual art at about 16 before that I was involved in the performance arts. I had a great deal of experience on stage playing in a band as well as acting. When I decided to make art my passion I chose it because it was something I believed in and thought it was something I could accomplish through my creativity. My heroes where drunks,drug addicts and underdogs. As such that is who I unconsciously role modelled my life after. I got no regrets but say if I had realized far more people accomplished nothing while getting high and messed up then ever accomplished I may have chosen differently. I also didn’t expect to live this long.
I was pretty straight through out high school (and it is you kids that I am writing this for) I was always involved in extra curricular activities and really far to busy for alcohol and drugs ( I was also scared shitless cuz my father would kick my ass if I did not at least try and walk a straight line ) It wasn’t until my second er third year of grade 12 that I started drinking and playing with the notation of drugs at which point I was 18 (the legal drinking age in Canada and yes you read that right 2nd er 3rd year of grade 12 hence the low self esteem). Part of it had to do with those I was looking up too as “heroes” at the time. For what ever reason those were the figures I could relate too. I guess they were the people I believed I could become and that stimulated my imagination. Really if you can’t succeed at being a starving artist there must be something really wrong with you. I was also set on living fast and dieing young, I think we all were.
it was about 1993 when my band broke up that i really started concentrating on art , believe it er not it was partly my “drug” use that created stress and lead to parting of ways, drug use in quotes because I dropped some Acid here and there and smoked a lot of pot which I would have never really considered drug use till recently. I started smoking more dope and dropping more mushrooms and things. I never thought it was a big deal and as a matter of fact I considered it pART of the job description. I always had a “wild” personality and use that to enhance my “image” there wasn’t too much I wouldn’t try or wouldn’t do. I remember hearing the words “ARE you on DRUGS!!!” long before I ever took em. At the same it would be a little known secret that when all the partying stopped I went to work and was studying my practice…. The Practice of creating ART with a capital A. often holding 2 or three jobs while working on it.
portrait on LSD 2014
By the time time I got into college I was already creating ART(much of which was left through out time and space). If you had asked me at the time a HUGE PART OF THAT was the DRUGS. I loved to loose myself in images. Drugs were a way to separate myself from the real world. I often skipped class gettn high all night and making art. I didn’t wanna be part of the art scene I had already been there and done that. If you were to ask anyone from college they would most likely tell you I was a slacker, truth is I had little or no interest in being an academic. As a matter of fact I wanted be recognized as anything but. I went to college for my fathers sake and for the chance to concentrate on creation for a couple of years. I was hell bent on proving the rebel madman could out create the system. I did it but it mattered not, WHY cuz no one took me seriously. It was easy to right off my work because of my antics. I knew that place would be a small part of my history and I would continue on regardless. I did so for many years after, making great art and living what I believed was the artists life. It wasn’t till about 5 years ago I started questioning my way of doing things.
First off I had outlived the time in which I expected to be dead, secondly the world had changed a great deal, my model of artist was no longer accepted and thirdly it was the second time I had lived with out electricity in a few years (wether it was the drugs er dedication to the art I am not too sure ). None the less I was pretty much third world poor in a first world country. My out dated my career mood was nowhere, nobody was taking my art seriously cause I was I “high” and really had no other skills people would recognize other then being a “fucked up” artist. Which would be okay If I was content with my life, but I wasn’t. So I started weighing in the factor that. Although art, drugs and creativity had served me on the one side on the other I was a miserable failure and hated my life. I had no choice but to change. Now some people can do whatever they want and not be judged because of my personality I found drugs gave the people the excuse to write off what I accomplished , which means nothing unless they are the people you are hoping to make your living off .
The Paradox was something I couldn’t accept any more. I just wasn’t feeling good about myself cause I seemed to constantly be spinning my wheels. Something had to change. At which point I decided that regardless of the “benefits” I believed drugs had given my creative works, the trade off was no longer worth it. If that meant art had to be sacrificed so be it. So I started “cleaning up” my act.
So did drugs help me create art. The answer is YES , if they didn’t I couldn’t tell you other wise because that is the way I did it. Are there other ways I could have created a lifetime of art, YES. We will never know what could have been cause this is how I did things, right or wrong. You see thing I had failed to notice was there were creative minds that had created great things with out drugs. I had never thought about Henry Ford, Tesla or Leonardo.Creativity and drugs was the story I bought.
Sure it has long been proven that drugs and alcohol break the repression barrier between the conscious and subconscious mind ( see the work of Freud and Jung for further information) allowing us to access other parts of the mind. The part I neglected to study was that the subconscious mind can be accessed in many other ways as well. Meditation, dreaming, hell even exercise takes us into other states of being. All of these allow us to access different parts of the human psyche. the choice we have as creators is how we choose to access them.
Stimulants is probably the easiest way to access these parts, which is also why most people natural drawn toward them. the truth is we don’t need them as a matter of fact often the use of stimulants just creates a crutch the person believes they need in order to create. What we fail to to discuss is how those crutches and the use of them can end up effecting creators lives. Would Cobain and Hunter S have taken their lives if there was not some sort of negative aspect from drug use, of course there are all sorts of other factors, drugs didn’t help though
I have now been sober on and off for the past number of years, like I said before some people can control their substance abuse, I am one who can or chooses not too. I have now had a chance to see how drugs effects my creativity. Is it different? DEFINITELY . Would I have created the art I created had I not taken drugs? probably not. Am I still creative , yes it is just far more physical. That was one of the reasons I justified my drug use, maybe it has something to do with age. Are there a great number of artists I have seen their works change after they got off drugs. YES . Often the creativity becomes far less ethereal, could be age though. Truth is we will never know the answer. WHY because the people who created things while on drugs created them while on drugs and those who didn’t, well didn’t. is there a difference in what was created, YES. there is a difference in the people, the lives they led and their reaction to the lives they lived as well. really the choice is up to you. and that is what drugs and creativity is all about.CHOICE it comes town to the quality of life YOU WANT.
Sure you can be Nikki Sixx and shoot heroine for 20+ years and play bass for one of the worlds most notorious rock n roll bands and get through to the other side. You could also be Sid Vicious and die at 21. Worse yet you could die an unknown junkie after 33 years of use and hard living which is probably the most common scenario.
I have known a great deal more people who never did a thing on drugs then ever accomplished anything with them. Hell you might even write some of the worlds most beautiful modern literature and live till the ripe old age of 83 a la William S Burroughs. None the less no one can be all that happy crumpled in the fetal position vomiting due to a dependency on their next fix.Hell it’s a crap shoot I guess. The question to ask is what you want out of your life, sure I never had a hard drug problem I can admit regular drug use greatly effected certain out comes in my life. (so did negative thinking and lack of self belief).
So you may ask would I do it again, the selfish part of me says YES, because that is the life I sought. Sex, Drugs and Rock N Roll and I had my share. Now that I know there were other options would I change that too. SURE, this life didn’t get me everything I wanted. Like I said it is a crap shoot there is no guarantee things will work out as we hope er plan. I guess what it really comes down to is life style and the style of life you want. Reality is, life is based on habits and a habit regardless of what it is can be a hard thing to break and life can be a hell of a lot longer journey (or shorter) than we think. So for what it’s worth choose wise. It is not all as pretty as it is written in the papers and history book.