Blood, sweat, tears. Creative careers are the most difficult in the world. As artists, we put all of ourselves into our work. We’re constantly thinking about work, we’re putting in overtime, we’re mulling over the details, we’re reworking compositions.
We build from scratch, we inspire, we make something out of nothing, we make ugly beautiful, we create social change. Despite what the adults tell you when you’re a kid, hard work and dedication doesn’t always show tangible results. It’s a reason why many artists are susceptible to drug addiction, depression and suicide. There’s always a way to work through our pain. So let’s talk about ways that we can handle our lack of discernible accomplishments.
Let’s talk about what success looks like. Before we say we’ve failed, we’ll need to define what success means individually because the color of success isn’t just black and white. What do we want to do with our craft? Make a living? Inspire others? Activism? Define a mission and move forward from there. Artistry has been a treacherous road to travel for centuries. Some artists, Thoreau, Bach and Seurat to name a few, died with little to no prominence. So let’s stop comparing ourselves to other artists, especially the ones who are no longer in this realm.
We’ve all had it. Those days, weeks, when nothing seems to work. When, no matter what, the hard work we’ve put in doesn’t bring in the money or the clients. It’s tough. It’s heartbreaking. How do we pick ourselves up?
Focus on the positive
This doesn’t mean we ignore constructive criticism, it means that we focus on what good can come from any given situation. I’ve had my share of art markets and showcases where I didn’t sell anything over five dollars, sometimes nothing at all. As I’m writing this, it’s been a tough week. And, to be honest, it’s been difficult for me to focus on being positive. It’s easy to wallow in despair, even easier to quit. But the people who spent five dollars were moved by my art. The friends who visited me during the markets support me. My family appreciates my work. And maybe I am inspiring someone to keep going when they felt like quitting. I didn’t meet my business goals, but I’ve had an emotional impact.
Keep positive thinkers close
This is important. Attitudes and vibes are contagious. Some of us have the misfortune of being surrounded by people with bad vibes, who don’t support us. It’s important to limit contact with negativity because it’s volatile and can lead to destructive behaviors. Sometimes, the most negative person can live within our own minds. If you are the negative person in your life, then read the above bullet point over and over until it becomes a part of you. Encourage yourself, stick around others who encourage you, others with goals, others who are filled with purpose.
Keep going. Keep going. Keep going
Artists can live their entire lives without ever knowing how much they inspire others. We may never experience prosperity by our craft. And we may never fully recognize the influence that we have on the world. But trust that each of us is invaluable. So let’s make the world a better place by being in it and feeding the hustle.
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