“Yellow” by Nathan Sawaya
I admit it. Sometimes, when my own Art frustrates me, I compare it to other artist’s work. So many artists seem so much further along than me. Their work is stronger, they are more successful, and they all seem to have better galleries. Maybe if I tried to make my work more like theirs, I too would be more successful, more saleable, and happier.
I know I am not alone in sometimes having these feelings.
Interestingly, when you are thinking in this way, it never makes you feel any better. It is almost a way of distracting yourself from doing the actual work of making your work better. It rarely helps you improve your work because you are actually not even thinking about your art. You are thinking about someone elses.
Here are several ways of thinking about your art/career so that you will feel happier.
AUTHENTICITY IS KING.
Accepting your work, no matter what stage it is in, is ultimately a reflection of your own self-acceptance. There is no single, more potent approach to making amazing work than trusting you own originality. Those who refocus their awareness more on what they are creating, instead of what everyone else is making, will generate art that is more personal, and as a result, more unique. Pay attention to what you are doing and what feels right to you. Everything you need to make amazing, breath-taking work is already within you. It is just a matter of giving it the attention and focus it needs to become visible. And that success we all imagine? Another word for that is Authenticity. They are one and the same.
DON’T SKIP STEPS.
There are many steps in the process of becoming a successful artist. Making something you genuinely like is possibly one of them. Maybe selling or giving your art to someone who recognizes your value is one too. Galleries, teaching others, breakthroughs in the middle of the night, inspirations…there are countless incremental steps that will lead you to the creative success you desire. Each successful step taken should be celebrated and savored. Each step informs the next. You wouldn’t want to miss any of them. There is a logical order to your unfolding as an artist. It is not possible, even if you could, to jump ahead to a step without taking all the previous ones. Every artist before you has taken most of them. If you are solidly in this step-by-step process then you are already being successful.
OTHER ARTISTS’ SUCCESSES ARE YOURS TOO.
We are not involved in making widgets. We are not involved in figuring out a way to perfectly repeat ourselves. We are making Art. And yes, it is harder than merely perfecting one thing, one time. Thankfully, there are other artists who have gone before, who have achieved what we too would like to achieve. Do not let the success of others limit your happiness. We need others to succeed, to confirm again and again, to demonstrate the promise that exists within us all.
Another artist’s success merely collectively adds to the inevitability of our own. We just must be willing to savor and celebrate each of the sequential natural steps in our own journeys.
These three ideas have helped me when my work isn’t going so well.
How do you think about your Art when you are struggling with it?
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