Can Psychedelics Help You Become More Creative?

Can Psychedelics Help You Become More Creative?

Some of the world’s greatest artists, from musicians like Jimi Hendrix to poster artist Victor Moscoso, have attributed their success (at least in part) to the use of mind-bending psychedelic drugs. In this article, we’ll look at whether or not psychedelic drugs can make you more creative, famous artworks inspired by psychedelics and the psychedelic art movement.


Can Psychedelics Make You More Creative?

There has been a resurgence of interest in the application of psychedelic drugs in clinical settings, including testing the therapeutic potential of drugs like mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD. Many contemporary scientists are challenging previous assumptions about the dangers of psychedelic drugs and looking into the potential of these substances in various dosages, as well as microdosing to increase brain function and creativity.

But do psychedelics actually make you more creative or do users simply feel more creative while they are under the influence? Let’s find out.

Which Drugs Make You More Creative?

According to researchers from Leiden University, magic mushrooms do make you more creative. The researchers observed the effects of psychedelic truffles on creativity at a microdosing event organized by the Dutch Psychedelic Society. Subjects were given two problem-solving tasks to measure their divergent and convergent thinking skills (i.e., their ability to develop multiple ideas to solve a specific problem). Interestingly, the participants scored significantly more highly after microdosing mushrooms.

Also, a 2018 study by Imperial College London found that individuals using weekly microdoses of psilocybin had some changes in their personality. Subjects were tested for personality traits before and after the study. The researchers found that subjects scored high for “openness,” the crux of imagination, non-conformist thinking and behavior, and aesthetic appreciation. They also found that DMT and LSD increased creative thinking and cognitive flexibility.

Microdosing and Creativity

Microdosing and Creativity

Microdosing involves consuming a minimal amount of a psychedelic substance, usually about a tenth of the regular dose. The dose is sub-hallucinogenic, which means the users aren’t tripping in layman’s terms. They can go about their daily lives almost as normal. Microdosing isn’t just popular among artists. Some of the trend’s biggest proponents are found in the tech industry, with large companies hiring microdosing coaches to help their staff unlock creative thinking.

Why Does Microdosing Make You More Creative?

According to the chief researcher Luisa Prochazkova from the Leiden University study, psychedelics allow users to think outside of the box. “Microdosing improves divergent thinking. Moreover, we also observed an improvement in convergent thinking, that is, increased performance on a task that requires the convergence of one single correct or best solution,” she explained.

Early Studies Into Psychedelics and Creativity

The History of Ketamine

Before LSD was listed as a Schedule I drug in the USA, it was the subject of widespread psychological research. Oscar Janiger gave artists LSD and art materials for seven years, during which over 250 artworks were produced. He later completed a pilot study into the links between creative and psychedelic experiences. While most of his research has been lost, he did conclude that there was a definitive and positive link between creative problem-solving abilities and the use of LSD.

A Musician’s Personal Take on Psychedelics and the Creative Process

A Musician’s Personal Take on Psychedelics and the Creative Process

My experience as a music composer who enjoys taking psychedelics every now and then has shown me it does, in a way, trigger my creativity. But I should be clear, it does not always work, and sometimes, not in the way I wanted it to.

Sometimes the feelings I experience are very different. Even if I intended to use the trip to write music, I just find myself improvising and jamming with myself or with my friends. I can say, from a personal, non-scientific perspective, that my personal psychedelic experiences inspire my creativity rather than contribute to my actual artistic work.

Whenever I'm on LSD or shrooms, I can jam and improvise, find creative ideas, and perhaps even write some lyrics. Nevertheless, in reality, the composition and the actual musical form will probably not be finished for a couple of days after the psychedelic trip has ended.

Also, to be fair and add some perspective, not everything that sounds amazing while you are tripping will sound so interesting the next day. Many times I was sitting for hours with an original musical phrase thinking I had found something unique, while actually, it was just a regular old-school line cliché.

What is the Psychedelic Art Movement?

All You Need To Know About the Amanita Muscaria Mushroom

Psychedelics have directly and indirectly inspired several art movements, principally the psychedelic art movement (psychedelia) active in the 1960s. Psychedelic art refers to artistic creations that portray the psyche through vivid colors, cartoons, and animation that recreate the experience of ingesting psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin.

It inspired album covers, graffiti art, and comic books of the era and eventually became more mainstream. Campbell Soup even used psychedelic artwork and slogans during their 1968 campaign, including a slogan that read, “Turn your wall souper-delic.”

Famous Artworks Created on Psychedelics

Some of your favorite artworks may have been created under the influence of psychedelics. Here are a few of our favorites:

Dune by Frank Herbert

Have you seen the latest adaptation of the sci-fi novel Dune by Frank Herbert? In it, the protagonist starts having hallucinations after taking the mind-altering drug spice found on the planet Arrakis, so it may not surprise you that Frank Herbert was an avid mushroom farmer and active proponent of psychedelic mushrooms.

The Mirror Rooms - Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama created psychedelic mirror rooms and surrounded herself with LSD users. She’s also known for her performance art pieces, many of which have involved covering herself in polka dots. She is very interested in the perception created by psychedelic experiences.

Vernon O'Mealley

New York-based artist Vernon O’Mealley has just exhibited a series of LSD-inspired artworks. While he doesn’t paint under the influence of drugs, he says that LSD helps him interpret music differently, leading directly to his art.

Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans

Andy Warhol’s soup cans and hamburgers made him famous, and many scholars attribute his weight loss, ability to stay awake, and obsession with repetition to his use of amphetamines. (While not part of the psychedelic family of drugs, we still believe Warho is still more than worthy of a mention).

Alex Grey – Divinely Illuminated Humans

Alex Grey is a legend of the psychedelic art world. His artworks are incredibly colorful and vivid, illustrating trippy experiences and human portraits in bright colors. He is also the author of Sacred Mirrors (1991), one of the most successful art books of the 1990s.

Salvador Dalí

Interestingly, Salvador Dalí, the artist behind the hugely famous painting Melting clocks, did not take psychedelics despite claims to the contrary. In fact, he developed a method of accessing his subconscious, called Paranoiac-Critical. Using the technique, he would stare at objects until they morphed into different forms, inducing hallucinations.


As we’ve discussed above, compelling evidence is being uncovered every day that seems to prove that using psychedelics (even in microdoses) can make us more creative. While you can’t take a pill to turn you into an artist, some substances can lower your inhibitions and improve your problem-solving capabilities. Always use drugs responsibly and start with small doses - you never know which ideas you may unlock!

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