The Symbolism: Cigarettes

“Why do all your recent drawings have smokers in them?”
An honest question, and probably spawned from concern for my own health.

Recently I have been drawing characters smoking cigarettes. They are teenagers.
My friend often looks at my drawings and views them as depictions of me, or what I want. He’s not wrong, but simply looking at the surface is gonna be confusing.
And so I explained.
To me, a cigarette leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Over time, it can also dull your sense of taste.
Likewise, a bad memory. If you keep going back to it, you get used to how it feels, then things that once made you happy seem dull. You can’t get away from it, and slowly poisons you.
People with past trauma often blame themselves and have deep regret, so they punish themselves with the memories. In that way, memories can also become an addiction.
Likewise, when you see a character of mine smoking a cigarette, it shows they linger on dark thoughts, and they have a bitter taste in their mouth. They can’t move on, because they keep the poison at hand.
I chose to use teenagers as my subject of art because that was the time in my life I most had trouble with regret and bitterness. That’s when it’s strongest, and that’s when the addiction usually starts.
I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Every artist interprets the world through their own eyes. But for me, this is the meaning cigarettes carry in my art.

Mitch

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