You didn’t sell anything at your show or open studio. It can make you feel like crap. When this happens to me I am not sure if I feel bad about my work or myself. Probably both. It tends to dampen my enthusiasm about even trying to make art anymore.
If you ever feel this way, it is probable that you are thinking the World of Selling Your Art and the World of Making your Art are one and the same. They are not. They are actually very, very different from one another.
Here are the primary differences:
World of Selling Your Art
• You have no control in the outcomes of this world. It involves too many externalities that you cannot possibly control. This world is more about other people than it is about you.
• There is a tendency for artists to connect the value of what they make or even themselves based solely upon their success in this world. At best this is a roller coaster ride that will carry your self-esteem along for the ride. One day you are up, the next you are down.
• This world keeps you either in the future, worrying about what will happen or in the past, worrying about what already has happened. There is little time to for you to be present in this world and ultimately this is why it is sometimes so difficult.
World of Making Your Art
• You have total control in this world. The practice of Art making is an exercise in self-determination. Practically all aspects of your practice are within your control. This world is mostly a celebration of who you are presently. It is more about you than anyone else.
• Since your practice is totally under your own control, it becomes possible then, to consistently stay inspired and engaged with whatever it is that interests you. Staying engaged, becoming enamored with the unfolding of your own Art over time and the tremendous feelings of self worth that accompany this accomplishment makes you automatically successful in this world.
• The World of Making Your Art is all about the present. When you make your work, when you are really in it, the past nor the future enter into it. This is one of the primary reasons making Art is so gratifying. Making Art is Life being lived to it’s fullest. It makes us feel more alive and more like ourselves than possibly anything else we can possibly do.
So if you are going to choose to spend time in the roller coaster World of Selling Your Art, at least understand that it is probably not going to inspire you the way Art making does. There are also going to be a lot of people in this world who are not particularly interested in you. It most likely will not offer you a sustainable way to feel good about your Art.
This World can be so distracting.
So much so that sometimes it is easy to forget about the other World.
The World of Making Your Art… the world where your practice resides, where everything is in your control and where the possibility to feel utterly like yourself, so alive, are already there.
All that is missing is you.
In gratitude, Nicholas