How far is too far?
In almost everyone’s minds, drugs and crime go hand in hand but what if this perception was changed. What about the relationship between drugs and art? From some of the earliest moments in children’s education, at least in the United States, we learn that drugs are these substances that when introduced to our bodies will only leave us with some sort of physiological, maybe even a psychological effect. We equate drugs with negative connotations, harmful acts of violence and the detrimental associated symptoms, such as addiction, heart attacks, psychosis, and even death. Often times, after learning about drugs in school we only associate the term, with those that are illegal such as heroin or cocaine, we often times forget that some substances that are legal such as alcohol, and even caffeine are drugs.
Many artists have a drug of choice, whether it be legal or illegal. We very rarely hear about how some artists choose to use drugs to help elicit their own creativity. When artists do share their experiences with drugs, they often times explain how they have now experienced some combination of powerful emotions or even hallucinations that can help provide new insights into their lives and perspectives.
Drugs can help all sorts of artists, from some of the most notable artists such as Vincent Van Gough all the way to the criminal users of drugs, such as those who express themselves through graffiti. For example, Van Gough was an alcoholic and drank absinthe almost daily, although often times he was not completely intoxicated when he painted, he would incorporate these drugs into his paintings.
Personally, I have seen first-hand some positive effects of illicit drugs such as LSD, also known as acid, when taken to help prompt sparks of creativity. One of my close friends is an extremely creative painter but on the occasion she will begin to complain about how “nothing is inspiring her” or that she “just does not know what else she should try to paint”. After having a trip, she is no longer at a loss of what to paint, instead she often has new revelations about herself or the way she sees the world. When she chooses to paint while on the drug, it evokes a new surge of imagination and innovation. Sometimes it pushes her to try using different types of materials to incorporate in her canvases.
I believe that at the end of the day, if no harm is coming from an individual’s use of drugs, illegal or not, in their own safe environment, why should society be able to keep them from producing the art the way that they want to.