Is Creativity A Type Of Addiction?

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

What is the motivation behind an artist's creative drive? And how and why do artists continue to create despite facing difficult odds? What keeps the artist going?

Being an artist is a high-risk pathway, there is no definitive career ladder to climb, like in other professions. Perhaps, if artists did want a ladder, they would probably want to create the ladder before they started climbing it. For some... it probably wouldn't even be a ladder you could climb, there might only be the representation of a ladder?

René Magritte - This Is Not a Pipe

All this to say that a career in the arts isn't straightforward, and artists aren't the most straightforward of people as well. 

How artists develop a career path is not predictable. Everything seems to start from grass roots, but then they enter a chaotic world - a place where the definition of success is as objective as the art itself.


At IMA we have come to understand how the life of an artist today shares many similarities with the life of an entrepreneur. However, where it is almost second nature for entrepreneurs to pull a team around them to work towards to a goal, the artist keeps a solo pursuit.

How many of us keep creating and continue to invest time and energy, even when in the middle of rejection and a dry spell of sales. Are we just waiting for a moment and hope one day we will make it? Are we neglecting creation in favour of staying on top of our social media? There is not just one solution or method that works for all, which is why we see the gold standard as being longevity. The longer we can stay practicing arts, usually the better.

Understanding one's own WHY of being an artist, with firm reasoning, will form a strong belief in your art practice and help you continue your practice through the lull periods.

IMA co-director Amit Rai Sharma was recently invited to write an article to open the 2nd edition of the Museletter. Amit's masters thesis was a qualitative study on why creative people continue to create despite the difficulties they face. In his paper he discussed creativity in comparison to psychological models of addiction and motivation. So it only seemed fitting that for a publication about the arts he would choose to revisit this topic in light of all the learning that has taken place since beginning IMA Studio.

The following article presents a psychological perspective as to how and why creative people are the way they are.

“1 out of 100: an exploration of the artist through value-based cognitive models”