Why do we Create Art?

About once every 12 months I wake up and there’s a giant WHY? in front of me. It follows me around until I give it enough answers. Sometimes it’s hard to make WHY? go away, while other times I just laugh and the intimidating three letters and a question mark runs for it’s life!

I give it vague answers like “life isn’t just about bread and water” and “art is what makes us human” but WHY? can be stubborn.

Does WHY? ever visit you and how do you make him go away?

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Im staying out of this one, have fun.

  2. Blah… just embrace one of the artist stereotypes and find your answer to ‘why’ in the bottom of a bottle. :P

    Actually when I start to ask ‘why’ is about the time my work moves in a good direction. Kind of like the calm before the storm reversed.

  3. All the flipping time LOL! and then I say “oh heck with it” but it doesn’t stay oh hecked too long. ;)

  4. “Does WHY? ever visit you and how do you make him go away?”


    Mines a SHE. ;)

  5. To be honest with you, that never really crosses my mind.

  6. Why, ha. Sometimes I ask myself why I create commercial art instead of following my inner voice, but then I remember … it pays the bills.

  7. Why? … why not?

  8. Why used to come to my house and follow me around too. I told it to get bent and get the hell out. Sometimes “Why” just isn’t a pertinent question.
    Right before it walked sullenly out of my door I threw one last word at Why. Love.
    Why hasn’t come back since and I say, “good riddance”.



  9. When you recognize your true passion, it’s hard to deny it. Sure it eases slowly into the background of daily life, but when I finally remember to pick up the brush (instead of doing laundry, or reading blogs or any other distraction) I am more myself than at any other time. I realize WHY I am even on this planet. It not only gives my life purpose and meaning, it puts the universe in order.

  10. Interesting. Lots of ammunition to fire at WHY? when he/she comes back to visit me.

    I spent much of the day struggling with art and the importance I give it. I started thinking art was useless, a plaything for the rich, wallpaper, a language that has become redundant, and a constant struggle to produce.

    But I always come back to thinking art is everything. It doesnt matter why people make art, just as long as they do.

    I have tried living life without making art and it’s not much fun. I know art isnt as important as air and water, but it’s close!

  11. Because we need the nourishment :) I’m so greedy.

  12. I find that I get bored if I don’t create art. I’m one of those people who get really interested in something only get burned out on it within a few days, weeks or months. Art is the only thing that has long been able to capture my attention. For example, I can allow myself to get addicted to a video game or series of books, but it never does last long. Art, for whatever reason, keeps my interest.

  13. My answer is usually: “Because I have to.”

  14. To be a channel for those divine qualities of Truth, Beauty, Order and Intelligence. To express these qualities to those already receptive to them. To awaken those who are not already aware.

  15. Donald Frazell says:

    OK, right now? Anger. Pure, rolling, furious, anger. With no purpose or passion, I would have no need to paint. For painting is about exploring who we are, not I, not my limited being, but trying to understand who we are as a people and how we got here.

    The same reason I study history, which is to learn why we are screwed up as we are, yet have so many gifts and brilliance. How we twist them from our peoples growth, to personal selfishness, and destruction. So many things we take for granted are not truly so, as that has again been revealed. The more we look inward to our own desires, the more our society decays in greed and arrogance.

    Maturity is first learning to take care of oneself, then finding true satisfaction through usefullness, purpose, creation. Outwardness is the mark of vigor and virility, of a man, and society. Not taking but building for the long run, toward an eternity we can never truly understand or have.

    And now the decadence has reaped its inevitable reward. Lies and deceptions, even to oneself, always end in collapse. And now anger, trying to keep from hate, which would only lead to more destruction. Back to my old painting, redoing my Judgement, which man has put himself up to. No of damnation, but of accountability, of answering for ones life. Giving justification for ones existence. Or being found wanting.

    There is plenty of motivation when one has found purpose. Putting it to use is another matter, for ones mind must be clear of ones own desires to see truth. It is up to all of us to find a way to contribute. Art has purpose.

    One must have faith

  16. “Why’s” always distract me Sometimes I entertain the why question but usually I prefer to pick up the brush, make something new and tell the “why” question to go bother someone else!


  17. Art is part of being human, why make films, write, sing or dance? None of them are necessary to survive but they can make you feel alive and connect with people.

    I think art allows us to be contemplative, consider ideas and new wasys of doing/seeing things and maybe be more right brained. So we get to use a side of us that is not always prioritised in society.

    And anyway ‘why not?’..that always annoys ‘why?’.

  18. It does visit me…but not in a bad way..just makes me think about just that. Why? I then answer myself saying because I have to, because it is what I am made of. The need to create…how lost would I be without it!

  19. I agree distressing delilah and hellyuk. I often why I bother, but I couldn’t NOT create. What I produce may not be important to the world, but the need to create has never been about the end product and what others think of it. That some like it is icing on the cake, but not the driving factor.

  20. Donald Frazell says:

    Creation comes in many forms, certainly not jsut art. Raising my kids adn mentoring others consumed me for years, and what could be more important or the essence of creation. Then slowly fixed the house up, garden, got fiances in order, now back to art. But considering what has been going on for the last coupla decades, art didnt need me or anything really relevant, now it does. Probably not me, but gonna be looking for it, and tout it. If I ever find it.

  21. I actually went to university and studied aestethics for two years just to answer the Question. I never found an informed Answer, or rather, I found a bunch of mutually incompatible answers.

    Finally I reached the conclusion that I just don´t have to give a shit. As long as I like art, and like making it, I´d better not question it´s value, but simply enjoy the ride.

  22. Assuming Mr WHY is that negative so and so, who is constantly asking why I am not doing something more important, responsible, commercially viable etc., then, I am surprised that he has the time to visit you, as he seems to be my constant companion. Must be on those days when I remember the answer that my mother gave me;
    ” Because”

  23. Very often.

    I had a moment where I had to choose if I wanted to continue on my art education or go someplace else. Right before that I asked myself and my teachers why I was doing this and then why I wasn’t helping children as a doctor in africa or something.

    At the end of the day it’s because I believe it makes a difference in a unique way that is needed. And it’s the only way feel good about making a difference.

  24. Oh, I hate the “Why?”! It drives me crazy that I question my own dreams and path in life.

    But I stick with it, because it’s the only thing I really truly believe in.

  25. oh, I don’t hate why at all! on the contrary!
    The whys are why I make art, if that makes any sense. The whys provide me with fuel, my burning questions are really what makes me seek anything, do anything, aspire to be anything.
    without why’s visits there would be no purpose for me.

    now I feel like there are 2 ways of seeing WHY. one is the self-deprecating way, as in “WHY the heck am i even bothering?” and the other is true self-exploration as in “I wonder WHY”

    :) happy why-ing

  26. I have to make WHY? go away? WHY?

  27. Yeah, an artist is prone to reflection and the question of Why? is probably common. But it is even more common philosophically and it leads to no real answers.

    The struggle is to use the Why? question to declare an answer you can believe in. Like another commenter mentioned, it’s about passion. The Why? question can exist to affirm one’s passion. As a choice, one’s passion is a self-empowerment.

    Check out my blog. I write about my angst a lot.

  28. Top of the why questions for many artist is ‘why am I here?’

    To answer your question though I would quote Robert Rauschenberg “The artist’s job is to be a witness to his/her time in history.” To be PC I added the her:)

    Good Blog, very thought provoking. I like to think as well as absorb.

  29. i am not an artist myself (although my boss might debate taht)..but i represent one (NO, i do not PLAY one on tv)…i often ask myself WHY…but not just about our artwork, but about this whole “industry.” Then i go to a show or have a collector come to the studio and hear the stories about how the artwork has affected them…how it makes them happy…how it tugs at their emotions…and the big grins on their faces remind me of WHY.

  30. That question usually comes to haunt me precisely when I’m feeling like I’m neglecting painting; so I usually have to submerge myself in it again to get it to go away, or more precisely to realize why all over again :) Sorry, I was reading through a reader so I only got to this post now!

  31. I do it, but I don’t know the why.

  32. Bah….I’m caught in such a loop of whys?, I could be the Queen of Whys?

    It all began on a wintry morning when the most wonderful of them whys….i wonder why?! popped in for cocoa…and then it turned into but Why do i wonder why….. and then ….But why the why the why……

    egaaaaaaaaaaah! Its a loop that i’m going to be forever stuck in i think!

  33. I AM PONDERING THIS EXACT QUESTION! I actually typed it in google and this page popped up.

    In the last theology class I took (It had nothing to do with art; I just attend a liberal arts college), There was a theory. I was also at the same time enrolled in an aesthetics course….

    It was theorized that humans had an innate desire to create, to capture the essence of life, because they were made in God’s image and LIKENESS. And what did God do? He CREATED.

    Now, I don’t go to church most sundays. Honestly I am much the skeptic. But I have been delving into my desire to create and achieve and conceptualize everything…. (I don’t even know if that’s a word it comes to me when I look at my drawings.)

    And WHY? does stare me in the face. So now I’m squinting my eyes back at it and wondering if this is the answer.

    Surely there must be a term or phrase; there must be a name for this theory. If anyone can provide it for me it would be very much appreciated… I’m still looking….


  34. Well after reading all of your responses to this little word, I feel like I’m in LOVE with the word WHY! Artist are amazing we are over flowing with soul, and truth. we should never ever STOP! If asking Why makes you create then ask it all the time, if hurts you and makes you feel uncomfortable for who you are, FLUSH WHY down the toilet!! You Lovely Artist You!!

  35. Anonymous says:



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