Conditions in which British artists achieve their best work

Alison Dewey, Hannah Steinberg, Mark Coulson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The conditions in which artists produce, or think they produce, their best work seem to have attracted little systematic study, and public support for the visual arts in the United Kingdom is relatively meager. In this study we have tried to identify issues, by means of semistructured interviews, which particularly concerned a sample of 20 professional painters. Their names were taken from lists supplied by the heads of 2 schools of fine art and of an an charity. The material was analyzed according to a form of thematic analysis into themes and subthemes. The results showed great individual differences, but the following were mentioned most often: loneliness, isolation, the toxicity of paints, dyes and solvents, backache, the lack of recognition by the media and fellow artists, depression, and artist's block, which can be prolonged. Suggested remedies included means of having contact with other artists by, for example, more studio complexes and artists' societies; wider access to information on dealing with health hazards; and strategies for overcoming depression and artist's block, such as meditation, dreaming, and looming deadlines for commissions and exhibitions. More research into these and other concerns might eventually help artists to maximize their artistic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
JournalCreativity Research Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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