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Now there’s a sign of spring!

My last post garnered some interesting comments around the issue of medicating one’s mental state. The picture on the left is a variety cover that I did for the Strib back when I was on the features design staff in 1990. It’s the only newspaper peice that’s on display in the house. There’s a reason for that. The article is about the relationship between insanity and creativity. The illustration is a self portrait, although my hair was never that red. But it gives it kind of a Vincent thing, no? I’ve always felt like I was walking the razor’s edge of sanity. And I’ve always wondered if the same engine that drove the madness drove the creativity. It took me 53 years to find out that my anxiety, anger, hypochondria and sleeplessness could be ameliorated with medication. I know some people aren’t so lucky, but it works for me. But that bring up the question, if I modify the engine to run more smoothly, will it still provide the horsepower to drive the wheels of my imagination?
At the moment I’m coming to terms with the idea that I’ve not only been depressed, but that I’ve had some form of ADD for all this time. One of things that has always gotten in the way of my career as an artist is that I have a bitch of a time sitting still for the long periods of time required to render out an idea. That’s one reason my niche as a quick spot cartoon guy was perfect. When I was one of the production folks in my current job, I was very low in the productivity measurements. Part of that was because of all the time I spent helping other people solve technical problems and investigating problems for the then managers who were clueless about graphics software. But it was mostly about being bored as hell and not being able to keep my ass in my chair. I got promoted basically on good looks and charm. But now I’m thinking of adding yet another med to my list. I have a good friend who just was diagnosed as an adult with ADD and he says that the change was miraculous when he started taking meds for it. Would I start finishing projects, instead of letting them die after the excitement of a new idea wore off? Would the meds dam up the river of imagination. And most important of all, would I still be able to get wood?

12 thoughts on “

  1. I’ve got to say a couple of things as I sit here totally distracted from work. As an (obviously for those who’ve read my ramblings) very ADHD type with huge depression issues, I think meds can do wonders. They have to be the right meds for the right person taken at the right times. It was not good when I spent half my day crashing off Ritalin. It is not good if ssri-s change your personal vision. But balancing brain chemistry can be a great thing.

    Of course insanity and creativity go together. No one is interested in a “normal” view of the world. If you see what everyone else sees there’s no point in showing your art/writing/music around, it will be totally bland. The edge is a horribly uncomfortable place at times, but the view can be very interesting.

    Anyway, beautiful page design. Nice self-portrait. Are you sure it’s less nuts than mine?

  2. and on that last note of yours, at certain doses it wasn’t the “get wood” problem, but the “get off” OK for the partner perhaps but an issue (“how is this an ANTI-depressant?”)

  3. Thanks. I’m proud of this page. I did the design of the page and all three illustrations. I was at the paper as a temp and they decided not to keep me on because they were going to do a national talent search and I was welcome to apply but frankly they didn’t think I’d have much of a chance of getting the job. Mr. Graphics editor, whatever your name was…fuck you.

  4. I am in awe of your artistic talents. 
    I don’t know much about the other stuff, so all I can say is that you deserve to find whatever works to help you be in a place, mentally and emotionally, where you want to be and feel like a whole person.  Nobody can (or should) fault you for wanting that.

  5. The instant I saw that illustration I thought, “Vincent”, which is funny because my daughter is sitting not ten feet from me reading about exactly that beautiful, sad man and questioning me about him. Anyway, lovely work, my friend, lovely work.

    I have no answers. I think all you can do is fiddle around with various meds until you achieve the right balance. I once read a case history by Oliver Sacks about a man he called “witty, ticcy Ray”. Ray had a really aggressive case of Tourette’s that was interfering with his personal and professional lives, but which enabled him to be a brilliant drummer. When he took meds to take the edge off the Tourette’s, things settled down nicely for him at home and at work, but he lost his ability to drum like an inspired maniac. The solution that he and Dr. Sacks arrived at? Meds Monday to Friday, no meds on the weekend, so that Ray could continue to play brilliantly with his band.

    Balance, is what I’m saying, I guess. It’s all about achieving some sort of balance. I don’t know how easily you’ll be able to attain that, but it’s sure worth a shot. Too bad there aren’t more docs as inteligent and creative and empahethic as Oliver Sacks.

  6. Speaking of intelligence, I love that fact that I misspelled it up there. :::sigh:::

  7. and also, that’s just such wonderful art.  can you link it to a larger image?  i’d love to see it closer. 

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