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    • CommentAuthor3!LL
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008 edited
    I've had some ideas over the last month or so develop based on parallels between anorexics and bulemics, and art. Most Anorexics have an inaccurate body image, so much so that when they look in the mirror they cannot see themselves realistically. I never quite understood this until I started thinking about the way I see my art, compared to the way others see it, in most cases non-artists, and specifically my fiancee' who has this argument with me on a daily basis. She'll think something is fabulous, meanwhile I'll describe it as it "Looks as if I drew it with my dick." I started thinking about innacurate self body image and how it applies, and thought maybe we're all anorexic in our own ways. I've met many artists whom I would give a limb to be, all of whom dislike their own work when compared to other's. My fiancee is baffled by the fact that I admire artists who she thinks (albeit biased) that I'm "better" than.

    Anyway, I don't know If I have a point, but I'd love to hear other's thoughts on the matter. I'm sure there are plenty of creative people here who dwell on the same issues.

  1.  (522.2)
    i'd say i was musically anorexic if that's the case! the stuff i write can always be better, isn't as good as it could be, needs improving etc. but other say they love it. my fiancee said one song i wrote she thinks is the most beautiful she's heard, i thikn it's pretty standard and not too emotive. hell, even the mighty warren ellis included one of my tracks on his podcast that i'm pretty indifferent to...

    you have a point, and it's a good one.
  2.  (522.3)
    Yeps, I always think my work is totally sub-par and inadequate. Yet I keep making it and people keep making nice comments about it.

    It's not that I'm anorexic, it's that I am selectively blind. I think I'd rather keep it that way. If my perspective on my work was accurate, I might have no need to continue to improve it. Oh, and I'd be a pompous git, but that's beside the point.
  3.  (522.4)
    Part of the problem is that when you're an artist, looking at your work, you have the idea in your mind of what you intended, and you see the flaws in the real artwork compared to the mind's eye version.
    An outside observer looking at the artwork lacks the 'perfect' image in his head to compare it to, therefore the piece in question is 'wonderful'.
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008
    This is a pretty fascinating concept.
  4.  (522.6)
    That is a damn good comparison, i think most new artists and even seasoned ones dislike the majority of their work. I wonder... Warren, if you read this, do you hate everything you do? Or, do you write a script for Black Gas and say... "god damn, that is some good shit!"
  5.  (522.7)
    i'm with what Rootfireember says, but still, it sounds an awful lot like a kind of anorexia, never reaching that perfect image/picture/body/sound...
    • CommentAuthor3!LL
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008
    Glad to spark some conversation.
    • CommentAuthorOtiose
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008 edited
    I think it has to with the idea of something being 'perfect'. Everyone tends to have their own idea of what equals perfection. An artist's mind could have a truly abstract idea of perfection. Or perhaps he or she feels that if they created it, then it simply cannot be great. Although there is the narcissistic artist who believes his shit equals gold....
    • CommentAuthorZeebo
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008
    I often ponder this very same concept, but generally come at it from two different angles.

    On the one side, I have my writing, which I often think can be improved after the fact. When I go back and read things that are only months old, I find glaring syntax errors and poor word choice. Other people say it's wonderful and occasionally give me awards, which of course always leads to me questioning their taste or the other entries. "Jesus, if this was the best they got, I must have competed with lobotomized shit-flingers."

    On the other hand, I have my professional mixed martial arts background. (I also consider fighting an art despite many opinions to the contrary.) In that case, you don't have the luxury of questioning what's going to happen. Either you know from the beginning that you're going to destroy your opponent or you risk hesitating at a critical moment and sacrificing your face to the Blunt Force Trauma Gods.

    I've tried reconciling the two and switching mindsets between them, but for the most part, that produces writing that sounds like I wrote it with every creative faculty in my left testicle, and fighting that ends up making me uglier, which I really can't afford at this point.
  6.  (522.11)
    I think the anorexia thing is a gross oversimplification of anorexia and how it works and affects the person involved.
    However, the discreprency between reality and perception is a valid point.

    That said, An artist will not , in general, die because they hate or dislike their work, and an artist can come to the understanding of the difference between their perception and the work.
  7.  (522.12)
    I have a serious problem as a writer: I don't notice if my work is crap until about two days after I wrote it. I read it and re-read and I say, yep, this is good enough. And then two days later, it's like it was written by an idiot.

    Does that qualify as anorexic of some kind? I dunno.
  8.  (522.13)
    As I understand it, and this may be a flawed understanding, Anorexia distorts a persons ability to view their own body image to the point where the signals to their brain are misfiring.

    They do not see what others see in a very real way. Its not a mind set after all, but an illness that creates an active and self destructive illusion.

    Past that, and this may be a bit of hyperbole on my part. I have a bit of the same reaction in this analogy to use of, say a term to describe sexual assault used to describe the experience of reading a comic someone did not like. I am sure everyone knows what I mean.

    It conflates an artist's dissatisfaction with their result compared to their intended work with something much more horrific.
  9.  (522.14)
    This IS a fascinating concept, but I think what we're groping for here is dysmorphia more than anorexia. "Body dysmorphia" is the part of eating disorder sufferers that prevents them from see themselves becoming Auschwitzian. We could call this artistic dysmorphia, and I agree that it is a very real thing.

    It's the best part about doing gallery shows. You get to sidle up to people, who are looking at your art, and find out what they see.
    • CommentAuthor3!LL
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008
    Oi, I knew that was coming.

    Yes I understand that in it's complete examination, Eating disorders are awful. Being a shit artist, not that bad.

    However, When it comes to the specific bit of Unrealistic Self-Image, I believe they are the same, especially in the case where someone's self worth is tied directly to their ability to create, no matter what the platform or media. Are all artists saddled with this problem? No. Are all women saddled with a negative self image? No, but probably more of a ration than the artists, especially as in our modern society one's appearance is very much tied to self worth, especially here in the states.

    So I do apologize If I offended anyone. I know the effects of eating disorders firsthand, and again never understood the mentality behind them until this idea started bubbling.

  10.  (522.16)
    I think there is some truth to the comparison. The artist's satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their work can parallel a person's drive to any sort of self-improving or destroying act.

    If they are generally positive about what they're doing a bit of dissatisfaction can lead to improving. "man these jeans are tight I could stand to work out" or "wow was I off drawing that hand, I better work on those." they may be exaggerating a bit, but they're still close enough that it's healthy.

    Then you get the ones who have lost perspective. For the exercise analogy they keep finding some part that isn't thin enough or toned enough so they work themselves to destruction. (or at least a hospital and a shrink) For the artist they constantly harp on a certain detail to the point that they lose sight of what's good about their work. At that point the artist sinks into despair and eventually gives up.
  11.  (522.17)
    I've thought about this too, but I think it is more like what Rootfireember was saying--

    Part of the problem is that when you're an artist, looking at your work, you have the idea in your mind of what you intended, and you see the flaws in the real artwork compared to the mind's eye version.
    An outside observer looking at the artwork lacks the 'perfect' image in his head to compare it to, therefore the piece in question is 'wonderful'.

    PLUS what the audience views as amazing and engaging is actually (when you think about it) a rather lovely and satisfying reflection of your natural creativity filling in the blanks in your attempt to gain this "perfection" (which, whether you're aware of it or not, is often based on something you have loved in someone else's work)...

    Either that, or everyone is lying to you and you're doomed to creative misery and failure.
    • CommentAuthorOtiose
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008
    Feel as though I am about to ramble on....

    <blockquote> attempt to gain this "perfection" (which, whether you're aware of it or not, is often based on something you have loved in someone else's work)</blockquote>

    Although anorexia is a disease. Could an anorexic be seen as a person (body modification in a sense) trying to sculpt their body into their ideal image. An image probably created and distorted by constantly being bombarded with what is considered beautiful by the media. There are so many stories about people having cosmetic surgery just so they can resemble some random famous person. Maybe people need to realize that it is just as important to be yourself. You dont have to spend thousands of dollars to look like tom cruise or marilyn monroe to attractive, and you shouldn't have to feel like you need to draw or write like someone else to be a great artist.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJan 15th 2008
    I think they are very similar, but I don't think the cause is the same. I would say that an artist will always view their work differently from an observer because it requires a second mind to bring independent experience and philosophy to make the work whole - this goes for anything from painting to prose to comics to film. As the artist only has what he had to start with, he's at a distinct disadvantage to enjoying the piece, but not because of poor or distorted self-image.

    That said, I was having a near-existential crisis earlier tonight because of my inability to draw hands, and it did, silly as it may sound, make me feel kinda worthless as a human being after the fiftieth attempt at sketching my own fingers. So maybe there is something to this - it's a very interesting theory, and an unorthodox comparison, to say the least.
    • CommentTimeJan 16th 2008
    I don't understand what's wrong with drawing with your dick.