Take a second and think of the best albums, paintings and writings of all time. Think of the likes of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, The Sleeping Woman by Picasso or any of Shakespeare’s work. Now ask yourself this question: do you think that whilst these artists expressed their talents they also enjoyed the beauty of mother nature’s dry herbs? Well whether you answered yes or no to that question the truth is that many of our favourite artists have enjoyed cannabis during their prime.
Moreover, there’s also reason to believe that they used cannabis as a means of inspiration. Perhaps all of the world’s great art can be traced back to a nice bit of cannabis. Wouldn’t that be something. In this article we’re going to be investigating which famous artists and writers may have been (or are) weed enthusiasts, and take a look at potentially why that might be. As always, strap yourselves in. Let’s go!
Is Weed A Tool For Creativity?
Weed has been surrounded by myths and media for a long time. Due to its illegality, often cannabis is linked to demotivating the youth of today and to making consumers lazy. Whether this demotivation and laziness is due to cannabis or not is unclear. However, the truth is, many of the inspirational figures we learn about at school have had experiences with weed, and sometimes even harder drugs. Just look at The Beatles. If you listen to the White Album, which they wrote after their trip to India, you can clearly see the influence drugs had on that. They were unlike The Beatles that people were used to.
Research Into Weed For Creativity Purposes
In 2014, Vice published an article where they asked successful businessmen who smoked weed whether they found that it hindered their motivation. The major belief amongst them was that they found weed both relaxing and good for their work ethic. Different stands had different effects. However, in 2014 there was also another study that linked marijuana to demotivation effects. And let’s be honest, we’ve all experienced the couch-potato effect during a nice high. So who should we believe? Is weed a creative or inspirational tool or not?
Well, the reason for this demotivation is because there’s a belief that marijuana has detrimental effects to your episodic memory. Episodic memory is the part of your memory that plans for the future. This means that rather than plan, and think in advance, you’re stuck in the present. This is perhaps why weed is so heavily linked with demotivation, because you can’t fathom the idea of a future exam you need to revise for, or a future presentation you need to create. So is this not proof then that weed only demotivates and does not inspire creativity?
No. Not at all. Being stuck in the present is far from a bad thing. In fact, most meditators, yogis, artists, musicians, writers, all search for this state for their entire lives. Some call it flow, some call it inspiration, some call it creativity. This state of presentness means you can focus on the now, and not worry about the future or the past. When creating something new, you surely need to be focused on that thing completely and be ‘in the moment’. Therefore, perhaps weed inspires more creativity than one may think. Who’d have thought it?
Who Uses Weed for Creativity and Inspiration?
There is a huge amount of self-confessed weed enthusiasts, some alive, some dead. And others who have been gone for too long but have left marks of cannabis consumption in their work. So some of this is speculation, whilst others are more factual. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the influence weed has had on some of the great creatives of our time and the time before.
Pablo Picasso – Although it cannot be proven 100%, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that Pablo Picasso enjoyed marijuana from time to time. First of all, his role in the cubist movement was enough to suggest he had inspiration from a different source. His artwork contained colours and shapes that the art establishment were not used to. Furthemore, in 1966 he painted his piece ‘Portrait of Men Smoking Pot’. Surely this is evidence enough.
Bob Ross – Some of you may know Bob Ross from his well-known TV show ‘The Joy Of Painting’ where he would paint for the viewers. Many fans thought he was high during this show. In fact, sometimes he’d refer to the trees he painted as ‘little happy trees’. Perhaps that was a slight nod to the inspirational dry herb.
Salvador Dali – You only have to look at one of Dali’s paintings to wonder whether he was consuming marijuana. Just take a look at his painting ‘The Persistence of Memory’. However, he did famously say: ‘I don’t do drugs, I am drugs’. So perhaps Dali was born in a state of high already.
Charles Baudelaire – Charles Beaduelaire was a famous french writer and a self-confessed weed enthusiast. Due to Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, and Egypt’s marijuana history, France was a hotspot of cannabis during Baudelaire’s time. He even wrote of the drug’s effect, saying that “the most ordinary words, the simplest ideas assume a new and bizarre aspect.” Never a truer word spoken!
R. R Tolkien – If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching or reading The Lord of the Rings then you’ll have noticed that one of the wonderful attributes of the Hobbits is that they often smoke ‘pipe weed’ from their long pipes. Could this have been a writer confessing his marijuana enjoyment habits? The amazing imagination and variety of characters that Tolkien brings to life could very well have been inspired by weed.
William Shakespeare – William Shakespeare is the greatest playwright and poet of England’s history. But was he a weed consumer? Well, the truth is, during the Elizabethan period cannabis was legal. In fact, South African scientists found remnants of cannabis in pipes discovered in Shakespeare’s garden. And in his Sonnet 76, he speaks of using ‘noted weed’ for ‘invention’. Essentially, he is suggesting he used marijuana for creativity and writing inspiration. Also, the sonnet number was 76… what’s 7×6? It’s 42. If you add a zero for no apparent reason. That’s 420!
Louis Armstrong – Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential figures in American Jazz from the 20s to the 60s. And he also appreciated the drug, saying that he loved “the warmth it always brought forth from the other person. Especially the ones that lit up a good stick of that ‘shuzzit’ or gage…”. The flow state we were speaking of earlier that marijuana can help with is especially important in jazz because the music is all about improv, and not about planning.
Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan was part of the 60s-70s American Hippie movement, so it’s no surprise he had his experiences with cannabis. When asked by Playboy magazine what he thought of marijuana he said that it “bends your mind a little. I think everybody’s mind should be bent once in a while.” Maybe it was this mind bending that inspired such a long and prosperous career. His song ‘Rainy Day Women Number 12 & 35’ had a lyric in it that simply stated: ‘everybody must get stoned’.
Snoop Dogg – Snoop Dogg may be one of the most self-confessed weed enthusiasts out there. It’s hard to find a video or an image of him where he isn’t smoking on a joint. Whether he uses edibles, vapes it with a dry herb vaporizer or just rolls it up, it’s evident he’s consumed marijuana in all ways possible. According to a reddit Q&A with the man himself, Snoop Dogg smokes up to 81 blunts a day. If he’s able to write music with that much cannabis in his system, then surely it must be a means of inspiration and creativity.
Weed Can Make You More Creative
Well, there we have it. It is without a doubt that weed has played a part in a lot of creative’s minds over the centuries. Many of the figures we love and respect, who make work that we also love and respect, have evidently used marijuana in their creative ‘process’. That’s not to say that talent didn’t have anything to do with it. You won’t suddenly become Shakespeare or Louis Armstrong if you consume some weed. But, maybe it isn’t as demotivating as people say. And maybe it has the potential to unlock something in all of us.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article and, most importantly, found it educational. Until next time.