Monday, February 25, 2013
Defining an Artist's Success
It's a much harder question to answer than one would think.
First, the answer shouldn't matter, but it does. If you have been doing well in terms of sales, do you say something? If sales have been terrible, do you bemoan this and whine? What does it matter?
If you have been focused on things other than sales, must you justify this and explain yourself away? OR, do you remember that you have a business, have bills to pay and must work diligently every day at meeting your commitments thereby seeing your labors pay off financially?
And then (as if it's not sticky enough) ...if you are selling consistently, what happens when you hear that phrase, "She sold out..." or "Too commercial" or "Her work isn't SAYING anything..." so, OF COURSE her stuff sells....
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
I know that I have said this before, but artists really need to define what "success" means in every endeavor they pursue with their art. If learning to be a better painter is your goal and you see that you are progressing and are diligently working at this, then it is easier to feel successful. As long as your goals are progressive and reevaluated often, your definition of success is something that comes from within and is determined by you alone.
Alas, though, we artists are such a sensitive group...and we are constantly judging and being judged by others. Surely, just hanging your work on a wall and placing a price tag on it is asking for judgement. So let's not pretend that the evaluative nature of what we do isn't there. We want someone to connect to what we have created. We want them to connect so much so that they are willing to plop some money down and carry our work home with them to live. It's the nature of what we do.
Every artist has their own distinct path. It's harder than it looks and requires more than you sometimes feel you can give. At the end of the day, it is still just you and the canvas (or the guitar, or the computer, or the piano..)and the work to be done. But you have to do the time and work and not just talk about it.