A creative influence: individuals discuss the use of weed for artistic purposes


Zara Iqbal

As she placed one foot in front of the other, making her way slowly to school, her imagination hastened and a series of distinct images flowed into her mind, creating a film. The rock song flowing from her earbuds thumped pleasantly in her head, and the different images formed in time to the lyrics. She found herself brainstorming different ideas of what to draw. Her surroundings were suddenly a little clearer, and she felt consumed by the music — liberated, in a sense.

She was 30 minutes late to school, admiring her surroundings and high.

She appreciated the random imagery floating around her head; to her, it elevated a soothing sensation that she as an artist believes could boost creativity.

For purposes of maintaining anonymity, we will refer to this student as Tiana.

“I can get more weird images running in my head while I’m high and I feel like I am more creative; weed can make you more creative,” Tiana said. “It kind [of] affects people differently, or every high can be a little different, I guess, depending on the environment.”

In contrast to Tiana, junior Zinnia Saha is an artist who has never smoked weed before, but questions the drug’s ability to enhance creativity. To Saha, creativity is derived from surroundings more than anything else.

“I think creativity comes from the world. I think you look around into the world and things are constantly inspiring you — emotions inspire you and I think it’s the human condition,” Saha said. “We’re trying to understand ourselves and the world better, and these simple thoughts stem inspiration and that is creativity, being able to look at the world in different ways.”

To art teacher Brian Chow, the moral judgement of using marijuana as a creative enhancer is left to the person admiring the art; from a personal standpoint, he believes that most viewers wouldn’t mind if the artist smoked while making their creation.

“[The consumers] just like the art,” Chow said. “If no one is harmed or nothing is going to harm you in the making of it, then they probably don’t really care so much. In art, there [are] no rules to that. There are no moral police or rule saying you can only make are this way.”

Accordingly, Saha thinks weed may have the ability to induce expression instead of generating creativity, the two being different.

Now a student in Art 3 who has currently been working on surrealistic creation, Saha has come to understand why some artists may turn to drugs: to dismantle human ration or logic and to get rid of tension or anything blocking expression. She believes the surrealistic goal of art is to uncover the depth of the world from breaking down politics, corruption, the nature of human beings and feelings in new and creative ways. Saha understands that a lack of human logic could result in the improved ability to express oneself.

“When we lose our rational, it stimulates a stream of losing tension or things that are blocking us,” Saha said. “It’s a way to look inside so that we can find a new form of expression.”

Chow acknowledges that there are multiple reasons why someone interacts with weed. People may want to rebel or yearn to “escape” the struggles of everyday life. In relation to his own creative process and art, Chow personally doesn’t believe in the use of weed.

“I’m pretty much straight edge. I don’t need that stuff,” Chow said. “I get high on life and through my own creativity — to me that’s more powerful. Being able to access my creativity and to express myself from the purity of not doing augmented or added sources … to me that’s super powerful and that gets me really excited about making art.”

Saha hopes that artists won’t use art as an excuse to  take advantage of the drug, mentioning that if they use weed for the purpose of enhancing creativity, they should keep themselves healthy as well.

Tiana agrees that weed could help with the creative process, but still thinks that relying on it in order to secure ideas isn’t something that should be done often.

“It [can] be pretty magical to smoke and see the visuals you get and draw it on a canvas,” Tiana said. “I feel like you should have creativity while sober … but I feel like I totally get [smoking to enhance creativity] — that’s stuff I do too. It’s fine, just do what you got to do [to] make the art that you want to make.”

Chow gives his perspective as a teacher, and says that there are alternative options in gaining inspiration or creativity as an artist.

“[By smoking they] may feel like they’re more creative, a little more themselves, a little more comfortable,” Chow said. “But you [can] do that through meditation, you can do it through rigorous exercise so I don’t see [smoking] really as an exclusive thing that you have to do. Well, I guess if it’s what you want to do, but, again, it’s a very pointed thing you’re doing. Could you try doing it with your own brain? Could you try doing it with your own facilities? Obviously, yes.”