I got accepted into a international art show at a museum, two art quilts into a regional art show and I won “best of show” at a National Small Works display at a local gallery.
Two Definitions of “success ”
1. the accomplishment of an aim or purpose (internal reward)
As an artist I am driven by internal rewards. Much of my studio time is spent creating for long hours on a project that may never be shared with an audience. Currently I am working on a portfolio that includes vintage family portraits . This series allows me expand my skills and to explore some very complicated relationships. Making these quilts is an opportunity for intellectual growth and personal healing. Creating this series is it’s own reward no matter if anything I make gets shown or sold.
2.the attainment of popularity or profit (external reward)
As member of several arts organizations and my local gallery I have many opportunities to get the external rewards. When I am included in local (Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery), regional ( Above and Beyond at the Lakewood Cultural Center) and national displays of art quilts (Diaspora at the National Textile Museum) I gain a larger audience. In the future, this may translate into income from sales, lectures or teaching.
At my local gallery there numerous opportunities to sell. I am in the process of creating small gift items that quickly produced and can be sold at reasonable prices. My blog, web gallery, facebook and other forms of social media; are my virtual gallery. My work and my voice can be shared to a worldwide 21st century marketplace.
If the attributes of success are popularity (getting into shows), profit (selling or winning cash awards and accomplishing personal goals; than I am a “success” …………this week.
I wrote about Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book “Big Magic” in a recent post. The book describes the author’s perspective on living as a fully committed creative person. In the book Elizabeth recalls making a contract with herself as a teenager to be writer, to fully commit herself to the writing and not to “success”. She argues that as artists we should be fully open to magic of inspiration. Inspiration is the idea that floats into an artist’s head cannot be denied. According to Gilbert, a committed artist fearlessly pursues ideas.
An artist life is a cycle: Create, Evaluate Move On.
It’s the moving on that often trips me up.
It is much easier to use external rewards to set your artistic direction. If you get into a show or sell a particular image over and over again the world is letting you know you (your work) is liked. Who doesn’t like to be popular? Be aware: There is danger in this logic.
No matter how well liked something is, a true test of value is being authentic. Is your creation you? You at this moment in time? You sending out a message to the world or speaking to yourself? Be true to yourself and trust your vision.
“I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious. Authenticity has a that never fails.” quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s’ “Big Magic”
until next time……..