Never give up…on yourself

by Amber Gould

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

I don’t know one artist that hasn’t had days when they felt like giving up. Sometimes success seems impossible. Holding onto it seems even more impossible. Even for a seasoned artist failure is familiar part of the process. What is it that motivates an artist to continue when every door seems to be continuously closing? Determination? Stubbornness? The awful pit in your stomach when you think about going back to your old job? Making a living doing what we love is the dream…well, for pretty much everyone. So once an artist of any kind gets a taste of making a living creating, it can put them in a quite a predicament. There is no going back.

We walk the twisted path of the arts we set out on with balance or fall victim to shortcuts, bitterness, resentments and eventually, failure. How do artists continuously muster the courage to continue? Not only in tough economic times, but also in a highly competitive market dominated by reps, decorative and traditional works and exclusive groups and guilds. It’s not impossible to do it alone, but it can be quite difficult to push through those barriers to get your art out there if you aren’t willing to keep trying, long after others have given up.

For me, staying on course ranges from the little things, like the sticker on my laptop that says never give up or the customers that connected deeply with a piece (whether the bought it or not.) Or the big things, like the attitude that I can’t define my self worth as an artist by the successful sales months or let the negative sales months take me down. Sales go up and down, acceptance and rejection letters vary but everyday I’m the same artist. I’m myself, I paint whatever flows out and it feels awesome. I’m not defined by someone’s no or yes. It doesn’t mean I don’t get discouraged at times, but it all depends on my focus (plus I’m really stubborn.) That’s what keeps me creating, pushing, writing, painting and enjoying the process even during “no” periods and slow sales months. That’s also what makes the good things so good.

I know I worked hard to get there because I kept going in the face of the periods of failure. I guess that’s what Churchill meant. Success and failure are fleeting little moments in the big picture of being a creative artist. If I love creating art I can always create art, even on a day that I feel like quitting. Actually the feeling of failure can inspire really interesting art. It’s the reason we love a good, sad song or why a dark painting draws our attention. The only one with the power to make me a failure to create new art, is…me.

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