It’s hard to imagine a world without a creative outlet. There would be no music, there would be no art, and it could be safe to say that there would be no point in living. Luckily, this is not the case, as the world is filled with creative outlets, and its jam packed with artists willing to take advantage of each and everyone of them. As one might see, many of these artists are musicians, looking to stretch their creative tendrils over every possible medium.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain, legendary singer, writer, guitarist and front-man for the 90’s grunge band, Nirvana, was also an artist. Cobain was born in 1967, as he called it, “the year that they burned the hippies”, to parents Don and Wendy. Through out Cobain’s childhood, his parents would incessantly argue and fight with each other, and he would use art as an escape from it all. Accounts of his youth show that Cobain was a very creative child, interested in art and music very early on, and that as soon as he could hold a paintbrush, crayon, pencil, or pen, he would hunt down something to write on. Often, he would paint comic book covers, or draw birthday cards for friends and family. Art played a huge role in Cobain’s youth, especially after his parent’s divorce when he was nine, an experience that changed his life.
Fig. 1: One of Cobain's various alien paintings. Circa 1983.

By the time Kurt reached high school, his work had grown much darker in context, as he drew a lot of inspiration from the punk rock scene that he loved so much. One can see an example of this in Figure 1, a long limbed, spindly looking alien. These aliens, somewhat reminiscent of sculptures by existentialist Alberto Giacometti, were a typical theme of Cobain’s work. They could often be found in his notebooks, journals, and doodled on his school work. The distortion of the figure could be used as a mental insight, as Cobain was at the time beginning to struggle with depression, and often had to put up with abuse from his mother (she was a raging alcoholic, and Cobain was beginning to pick up the habit).

The alien theme was one that would carry into Cobain’s future work. Take for example Figure 2, the cover that Cobain made for Nirvana’s
Fig. 2: Kurt's cover for Nirvana's "Incesticide".
“Incesticide” album. Released to appease anxious fans waiting for Nirvana’s follow up to “Nevermind”, “Incesticide” was an album of B-sides, so the record company essentially let Cobain have a field day with it. In fact, it’s said that is the only reason Cobain agreed to release the record, because he could do what ever he wanted with it; including the cover. Cobain’s alien painting features another spindly alien, this time with a eerie marionette clinging to it’s arm, and two poppy flowers growing next to it. This painting is open to interpretation, with the most obvious being that it was symbolic of his famous addiction to heroin, and that the alien and the marionette symbolizing Cobain himself, meaning that he was a puppet to the drug. One could also state the claim that the two poppy flowers stood for he and his wife, Courtney Love, and that the alien and puppet are drug dealers. Yet another claim can be t
Fig. 3: Known only as "The Forbidden Page".
hat the two poppies are symbolic of Love, and their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, meaning that their love was an addiction.

Kurt Cobain saw himself in a very negative light, as one can see from Figure 3, a collage he made in one of his journals. Cobain tore a figure of his face from a promotional comic book, then proceeded to tape it into the journal. Once this was done, he drew in the figure of what he believed he really looked like, an emaciated, sickly man. The clash is immediately noticeable, as his scarily thin body juxtaposes the macho, muscular version of what the public wanted to see. Above this, Cobain taped the six opening lines to a poem by Alicia Ostriker, titled "A Young Woman, A Tree." The Ostriker poem reads “Passing that Fiery tree – If only she could be making love, be making poetry, be exploding, be speeding through the universe like a photon, like a shower of yellow blazes”. Cobain may have put this
Fig. 3.5: Egon Schiele "Self-Portrait" 1911.
there as another self criticism, because he felt that he was creatively at a stand still. One can see an obvious resemblance between this work, and the disturbing work of Austrian Expressionist painter Egon Schiele. In Figure 3.5, Egon Schiele’s “Self-Portrait Nude”, he depicts himself as sexually pained, disturbed, confused, and undignified, all of which were themes that often showed up in Cobain’s own work.

In the spring of 1993, Cobain worked on projects that revolved around Nirvana’s late
Fig. 4: "Sex and Women and In Utero and Vaginas and Birth and Death" 1993.
st album; “In Utero”. For the rear cover of the record, Cobain created the collage seen in Figure 4, in which he titled "Sex and Women and In Utero and Vaginas and Birth and Death". To create this collage, he laid out a collection of medical models, a turtle, and Stargazer Lilies(which would also appear on his cover for the “Heart Shaped Box” single)on his living room floor. The piece can be seen as symbolicof Cobain’s own macabre sense of self, and of any sexual confusion he had growing up. After the piece was photographed, the label changed the color to a more yellow, almost sepia, tint, to keep with the theme of the album. This was one of Kurt's last peices before his untimely death in 1994, an event that is still under speculation from the public eye.

~"I feel this society has somewhere lost it's sense of what art is. Art is expression. In expression, you need 100 percent full freedom, and our freedom to express our art is seriously being f**ked with." ~ K. Cobain.~

Brian Eno

Brian Eno, founding member of Roxy Music, record producer and engineer, and king of avant-garde music, was born in 1948, in Sussex, England. Growing up, he was always interested in art and music, and by the time he was sixteen, he was enrolled in art school, where he was able to spread his artistic wings. In 1971, Eno helped start the band Roxy Music, one of the first bands to fully utilize a synthesizer as an instrument, rather than another thing to make sounds with.
Brian Eno left Roxy Music in 1973 due to overwhelming creative differences with the other founder, Bryan Ferry, and to start his solo career. From here, Eno released several successful records, and began to produce and collaborate for and with other bands, such as U2, David Bowie, Devo, and the Talking Heads.

Fig. 5: Part of Eno's "77 Million paintings" series.

Fig. 6: Eno's "77 Million Paintings" projected onto the Sydney Opera House.
Fig. 7.

Eno’s recent artistic ventures include his “77 Million Paintings”, seen in Figures 5, 6, and 7. “77 Million Paintings” is a computer program that projects slides that Eno himself has made in various combinations, making it nearly impossible to get the same combination twice (hence the name). The program also plays various haunting musical melodies in random combinations. “77 Million Paintings” is Eno’s attempt at creating “Visual Music” by using generative programming (a program that is always generating something new). Eno’s “77 Million Paintings” was also projected onto the Sydney Opera House, as a means of bringing art to the masses.

Lou Reed

Lou Reed, vocalist, lyricist, and guitarist for perhaps one of the most influential rock bands ever, the Velvet Underground, is also an artist, which should co
Fig.8: From Lou Reed's photo exhibition "Romanticism"
me as no major surprise. The Velvet Underground, pretty much the original of all of New York’s art rock bands, could typically be seen hanging around artists like Andy Warhol (who did the album cover for their self-titled first album) and sculptor Walter De Maria.Born in 1942, in no other than Brooklyn, New York, Reed grew up listening to
Fig. 9.
Rock & Roll music, and even had an early job writing lyrics to radio friendly, cookie cutter hits. However, this was not at all what Reed wanted his R & R dream to be, so in the early 1960’s, Reed founded the Velvet Underground. Later on, he would leave the band in 1970 to lead a very successful solo career, releasing songs such as “Take a Walk On the Wild Side”.

It only makes sense that Lou Reed would foray into the art world. Reed is best known for his photography, as he has had many different exhibitions. Pictured here in Figure 8 and Figure 9 are shots from Reed’s black and white photo exhibition, named “Romanticism”. To shoot these photos, Reed had to alter a camera so that it would only take photos in the infrared zone. This use of infrared pushes our imaginations, forcing us to imagine eerie, extra-terrestrial worlds, worlds of ghosts and of loves lost. Mainly, the photos show no trace of human life, which is symbolic of the pure, natural emotion that Reed wishes to summon. To further his need to evoke emotion, Reed, didn’t title any of the photos in this collection, so that nothing would get in the way between the viewer and the photo.

David Bowie

Fig. 11. "The Remember" 1995.
Fig. 10.

David Bowie, born January 8, 1947, is perhaps better known as the futuristic rock star, Ziggy Stardust. He has artistically collaborated with both,Brian Eno and Lou Reed, and has influenced millions with his music. Many do not know that Bowie is also a painter, sculptor, and all around artist. Here, in Figure 10, we see a self portrait of David Bowie. This was painted in a very rough and loose style, almost as if Bowie was trying to emulate one of Van Gogh’s self portraits, which were also done in a similar fashion. Figure 11is a statue of an African head. Bowie copied the statue from a chess set he bought in Kenya, from a peddler on the street. Bowie cast it in aluminum, the had it chrome plated.

Creativity, and the way that people express it is very important in society, no matter how they do it. It is also important for one to express oneself as many ways as possible. A world without creativity is not a world, it is a hell.


"Kurt Cobain Biography"
Cross, Charles R. Cobain Unseen ​ New York: Little, Brown and Company 2008.
"Lou Reed: Photographer"
"Biography for Lou Reed"
"Lou Reed Biography"
Lou Reed's website,
"David Bowie Biography"
David Bowie's Art
"Brian Eno Biography"
"77 Million Paintings, by Brian Eno."