Brooklyn-based artist , who experiments with a range of psychedelic experiences to create vivid paintings, prefers the the idea of “self-dosing” to microdosing. “In other words, using the amount of recreational fuel or medicine that I need, and then adding more if so desired,” she explained. She doesn’t consume psychedelics while making art, she explained, but emphasized the importance of starting slowly, and seeing how the brain and body respond.
Hayuk relies on a long list of creativity-boosting methods to supplement her practice. These include sleep deprivation, meditation, music, movies, hot yoga, food poisoning, getting lost in the woods, and sometimes, psychedelics. They all induce what the artist calls inspiring “shifts of perception.” Like mushrooms and LSD, sleep deprivation can “make for some excellent visuals when my eyes are later closed,” she said.
Her relationship to psychedelic experience can be compared to that of legendary artists who came before her. The beloved cartoonist , for example, has openly discussed the effects of LSD on his practice. “It changed the whole direction of my artwork,” he said
in a 2010 interview with the Paris Review
, noting that psychedelic experiences led him to his signature style. “I got flung back into this cruder forties style, that suddenly became very powerful to me.”
, famed for her mirrored infinity rooms and polka-dotted Self-Obliteration performances, was known to surround herself with LSD users in the ’60s. And though it’s not known whether the artist herself ever took the drug, the concept certainly inspired some of her work from that time.
Beginning in the 1970s, a distinct subset of artists began seeking to illustrate the creative and spiritual worlds they’ve imagined during psychedelic experiences. Alex and Allyson Grey, who met on an acid trip in 1976, have spearheaded the Visionary Art movement, which is based on the premise that art is a manifestation of the divine within. It “encourages the development of our inner sight,” Alex Grey has written
. “To find the visionary realm, we use the intuitive inner eye: The eye of contemplation; the eye of the soul. All the inspiring ideas we have as artists originate here.”
This past summer, the Greys began construction on the Entheon—a sanctuary of visionary art soon to be erected in upstate New York. The building’s façade was conceived to look like an infinite chain of pearlescent faces and the roof will be covered in a kaleidoscope of eyes.
For other artists, though, psychedelic experiences remain a means to unlock creativity. Hayuk, for example, was inspired to forego a traditional career path and to experiment with new media after her first meaningful experience with LSD: “The colors were bright that night,” she remembered, “and I could see beyond patterns and flatnesses that went into layers of infinity. I realized I knew absolutely nothing.” It inspired her to take a break from painting and begin creating performance and activist art, as well as sound sculptures.
Sculptor —who creates wooden sculptures that experiment with the mutability of geometric shapes—let his curiosity regarding psychedelics lead him to a shamanic experience
that guided him through a series of “visions.” He saw that “everything is in constant geometry” and in a constant state of flux—reducing and expanding, multiplying and unifying.
This experience became another tool for creating his work. “It opened up another layer to the world. It opened up a completely different way of me looking at my own art even,” he said.
“I didn’t feel anything mystical or out-of-body,” Israel added. “It was more the opposite. It’s like the most body you will ever be.”