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As previously discussed in Part 1, cynicism is one of three dimensions of burnout.

Cynicism is often the first dimension to indicate your risk of burnout. Also referred to as depersonalization, cynicism causes you to feel detached from your work, so detached that you may begin to feel numb.

Some psychologists believe that cynicism is a coping mechanism your brain uses to protect you from the overwhelming negative emotions you’re experiencing. As creative cynicism intensifies, you may withdraw from your craft altogether, and in time, you may no longer derive any pleasure from making art.

Creative cynicism can leave you feeling uninspired and out of touch with your craft. For many, art is a way to express your emotions creatively. It is difficult to create when you're cut off from the source of your inspiration (your feelings).


Though you may be suppressing your emotions, they still exist. Emotions aren't meant to be suppressed, so they will continue trying to be expressed, making you feel on edge or irritable. Occasionally, your defenses may even break down, causing sudden outbursts.


Ways to Beat Creative Cynicism


"Tick Tick..." Original by Kiara Chanel

Acknowledge Your Feelings…then Deal with Them

The most important thing you can do when experiencing cynicism is acknowledge your feelings. The key here is to understand your feelings and find ways to cope with them. Acknowledgment does not mean ruminating on problems and creating a cycle of bitterness. It’s also important not to rely on toxic positivity to gaslight yourself into denying that there is an issue at all.


Therapy is always a great option, especially when trying to make sense of your feelings. It’s important to acknowledge that therapy can be time- and cost-prohibitive, but some therapists charge on a sliding scale. Apps like BetterHelp and Talkspace also offer reduced prices and convenient access to therapists. Some apps can help you meditate or take time out for mindfulness. Many find journaling an effective way to vent your thoughts and feelings without having to censor yourself.


Find an Art Community

Sometimes, just knowing someone else has experienced the same thing can be a relief. It can make you feel affirmed and seen. Many art community members have years of experience and are happy to share advice. If possible, try to find a mentor. When people discuss success, mentorship is often left out of the discussion. Many successful people owe a lot to those who mentored them.


Socialize with Your Friends and Family

Socializing with loved ones should differ from how you socialize in an art community. While it’s great to have like-minded people to discuss your work with, it can be refreshing to be around the people who know and love you. You should always feel comfortable sharing things that upset you, but you may want to keep it to a minimum here. This time should be a break from your stressors. You should be enjoying yourself.


The goal here is to fill you up. So, if you’re more of an introvert, this can be a good time to do other non-art things you enjoy.


Establish Boundaries…and Enforce Them

Are you frustrated by the way you're treated? It’s time to set boundaries—the earlier, the better. Setting boundaries upfront makes things less likely to go off the rails later. You also need to get comfortable enforcing boundaries. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make Art for Fun

Making art for money can feel like work...because it is. If you have the time, stop and create something, anything, just for yourself. People use art as therapy for a reason. Allow yourself to have fun without the pressure of wondering if anyone else will like it.


Cynicism can be difficult to identify because it involves ignoring and suppressing negative emotions. The key to genuinely addressing it and avoiding the pain of true burnout is to acknowledge your feelings and develop coping mechanisms. Once you've acknowledged your feelings, self-care can do wonders to turn things around.

Modern society has made it easier than ever for creatives to share and commune with one another. Building a community and staying connected to those who understand your particular struggles is important. Take care of yourselves! See you at Part 3!

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"Bouquet of Flowers" -Odilon Redon ca. (1900-1905)

MOOCs ("massive open online courses") are opening the world of art. Eight hundred universities are offering thousands of courses for the low, low price of nothing.

MOOCs allow access to a diverse array of subjects. There are many art courses available on different platforms.

There are instructional art courses, classes about art history, and theory seminars. You can learn at your own pace and on your own time.

Did I also mention that these courses are free?

Chancellor Green Hall - Princeton

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Updated: Apr 10

Made by: Kiara Chanel

Modern creatives contend with unique pressures that make thriving difficult. Creative burnout is more prevalent than ever. In 2016, creatives working in the entertainment industry were surveyed, and 15% of them said that they experienced severe depression, while 44% admitted to experiencing moderate to severe bouts of anxiety.


For many, creating art is a deeply personal experience. When business (something meant to be inherently impersonal) mixes with art, there is often incongruity.

The internet has made it essential for businesses to move fast. Trends move like lightning, and production has to match that pace. People are now used to things being readily available and easily accessible. Consumers demand constant production, whether visual art, music, fashion, photography, or television. This unrelenting demand is difficult for corporations to keep up with, and it's not really feasible for independent creatives.

It is also difficult to get people to pay for art. People don't know (or possibly don't care) how much effort creatives put into their work. They want the lowest price possible. That makes sense to a degree, but there has always been a difference in price between a manmade item and a mass-produced one. Those lines have started to blur and people believe they should pay Shein prices for handmade, custom clothes.

A lot of people appreciate creativity but don't appreciate those who create. Many non-creatives struggle to understand the utility of art. Most Americans don’t believe that artists contribute much to society. In a country where people are cogs in a machine, art is the oil that keeps cogs from wearing down.


Art is so integral to society that art therapy is used to treat burnout in several professions. Ironically, art therapy is used to heal others, but the creators themselves continue to struggle. Creatives tend to suffer in the areas of income security, career progression, and employment benefits.

Due to the precarity of working in art, most artists aren’t just artists; they have day jobs. Time is a resource; working 40 hours a week means something else must take a backseat. If someone wants to devote time to an art career, they’re stealing time from something else to do it. For many, that sacrifice is self-care.


Even when someone is a full-time artist, they likely still aren’t just an artist. Modern creatives don’t often have patrons who will pay for their living experiences while they create. (If you do, can you help me find one?) Most artists must be their own marketing department, talent agent, accountant, graphic designer, business manager, and anything else they need.


Exacerbating these issues, creatives are now competing with generative AI that can instantly regurgitate mimetic versions of their creations. In the hands of someone operating in good faith, AI could be a fantastic creative tool, but in its current iteration, AI is used to pay creatives less or simply remove them from the equation and pay them nothing.


While this seems grim, it’s important to understand that these are simply factors that can lead to burnout; they aren’t the whole truth. Many people appreciate and patronize the arts; there are countless creative communities worldwide and online, and the arts will always be needed. Creatives may simply need help finding their way through burnout.

What is Creative Burnout?

People tend to equate burnout with exhaustion. While exhaustion is a symptom of burnout, several other dimensions must be considered. Burnout is challenging to quantify, but Christina Maslach, Ph.D., has spent years researching it and created an inventory that helps to measure it.


  • Cynicism (Depersonalization)

  • Reduced sense of accomplishment (Inefficacy)

  • Emotional Exhaustion


Technically, true burnout occurs when someone experiences all three of these symptoms intensely. That being said, experiencing any of these symptoms is bound to hurt creativity.


  • Burnout (experiencing all three symptoms intensely)

  • Overextended (high in exhaustion)

  • Disengaged (high in cynicism)

  • Ineffective (high in inefficacy)

  • Engagement (low in all three symptoms)


Why does this matter? While it may seem pedantic to specify which aspect of burnout someone experiences, it is essential to identify what they’re going through to treat the issue effectively.

This post became a bit long, so I decided to break it up into a series. I'll discuss each dimension of burnout separately. I'm dealing with my own intrusive thoughts, the main one being, "Sis, nobody is trying to read all that." The series is a compromise between myself and the voices.

What Burnout Profile Do You Fit Into?

  • Overextended

  • Disengaged

  • Ineffective

  • Burnout


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