George Orwell once described writing a book as “a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” Most of the artists I’ve run across would readily apply that description to their own creative process (particularly when they’re in the midst of it). Yet they will go on to assert that, however arduous and all-consuming, the act of creation can also be an amazing journey, a process of growth and transcendence.
It seems to me that audiences are rarely asked to consider how an artwork was created. After all, it’s enough of a job to interpret the finished piece, which can feel so fully realized—so powerfully present—that its origins are indistinct, if not invisible. But by gaining insight into those formative moments when an artist’s psyche is actively testing its own limits, one can develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the work itself—not to mention a greater appreciation of the considerable challenges every creator faces.