I learnt something really important the other day. To overcome artistic failure, it isn’t about how much happiness you want. It’s about how much suffering you’ll take to acquire that happiness. And success – in all our myriad of definitions of it – depends on that.
“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.” – Mark Manson
To Overcome Artistic failure right now you simply have to understand and accept that failure is inevitable and that your Successes can be a direct result of your failures.
While we’re filming That Tattoo Show we accept that failure is a part of the process of getting better. Mistakes happen & no matter how hard we try sometimes we get things wrong. But its what we do when faced with that failure that matters. We identify the problem and either solve it or – at the very least – come up with a different idea and try that. Then we repeat this process until it works. Watch one of the early version of the show and you’ll see this process of failure, reinvention and refinement in process.
EVERYONE FEARS FAILURE
What people do with that fear is very different AND very important. Some use it to push themselves forward while Others feel the fear and never try. For many artists, the fear of failure really ‘kicks in’ when they ‘go pro’.
Just doing art as a hobby is much easier. You don’t have to share if you don’t have any of that annoying commercial pressure. Trying to be a professional artist not only raises the stakes, it brings with it visiblity. Once people are watching you, you suddenly feel like the world is critiquing your every move. Suddenly you CAN fail.
But who says we have to be afraid of failing? And if we are afraid, how can we use that fear as motivation rather than intimidate?
ARTISTIC FAILURE IS HERE TO STAY
You might as well come to grips with it now, but failure is here to stay. It’ll happen, that’s a fact. How you respond to it is up to you. If failure didn’t exist, we’d be great at everything and life would be boring. Nothing in life is worthwhile without skinning your knees a bit. What makes us an expert in our field is the fact that we’ve failed countless amounts of times but are still standing and have gained wisdom as a by-product. So the more we fail and endure, the more people will look to us as an authority in our industry.
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and getting dragged into the downward spiral, make note of all the things that happened that led to your failure and promise yourself to take action toward a better outcome next time.
“What you resist, persists.” ~Carl Jung
If we’re so afraid of failing that we don’t even try then we’ve forgotten something very integral to the basic human condition. That we MUST fail in order to learn.
As children we fail all the time. We get up, dust ourselves off and try again and we learn. Eventually we master the task at at hand and move on to the next. At some point from from childhood to adulthood we forget a simple truth. Failure is not an endpoint, it’s the mid-point. It’s life’s educational tool, and we need it. So how do we get past that fear of becoming a professional artist in a practical, daily manner?
IT’S NOT ALL FUN & GAMES
Contrary to what a lot of people believe art isn’t all fun and games. Its challenging but Overcoming your failure and challenges can actually be very good for you.
Underneath the pretty colours and intricate details are struggles that can only be understood by those within the artistic community. My biggest tip for overcoming feeling of failure is to share them with artists around you. You’d be amazed at how much better you’ll feel just knowing that all the amazing artists you know suffer from the same problems you do. And they sometimes have incredible advice and insights that could really help you overcome your anxiety about failure.
Overcome Artistic failure. Three Tips:
1. Risk the little things first.
You need to get used to the fear and accept it’s presence so start with some little things. The sooner you can get comfortable with the idea that fear is a constant presence in your life the sooner you’ll be on the road to overcome artistic failure..
Try starting with something that has nothing to do with your art. Cook a meal from scratch or take a music lesson. Something that you’ll probably fail at but that doesn’t matter if you do.
2. Remember and record your success
Creative people tend to daydream. Its how we problem solve. But we rarely achieve the level of success we dream about. However, it’s possible that you’ll find yourself more successful than you thought you’d be. At that point you’ll probably be looking back and wondering ‘how did I do that?’
It’s important that you write your successes down, and keep a list somewhere you can refer to. When you start to feel the fear of failure creeping back in you can look back at the list and remind yourself of your previous success. It’s a very handy way to get your courage back.
3. Fail and write down why.
Often failure has very little to do with our own abilities and skills, and everything to do with timing, location, and the whims or abilities of others. You need to remember that certain circumstances are out of your control.
Write down your failure and identify the cause. If the cause was you, then you can plan to succeed next time. If the failure was outside of your control, then it’s just one fo those things. We can still learn from those failures, of course. We just learn something different.
Don’t expect people outside your industry to understand. You won’t be able to properly express the complex conflicts between mind and body, frustrating and disappointing results to outsiders who just don’t understand what being an artist really means.
DON’T IGNORE JUST THE NEGATIVE VOICES, IGNORE THEM ALL!
From the moment we ‘go pro’ in the 21st century our art is on public display for the world to see and comment on. And of course, with all the positivity and awesome feedback, comes the negative stuff. Mean, insensitive comments from negative people that very easy to get wrapped up in. This is poison to creatives, making them feel that their art is worthless.
The very simple truth is that – to overcome artistic failure – you have to learn to ignore these negative voices. To do that you have to ignore the positive voices too. I know that may seem like an odd idea so I’ll explain.
Understand that compliments – nice as they are – very often come from a place of no knowledge of the subject at all. Why should they? You don’t have to be a professional art critic to enjoy art, right? And that is exactly the same place that all that criticism is coming from. A place of NO expertise and NO understanding of art.
So if you recognise that the good stuff – however nice – is realistically worthless then you can ignore the bad stuff for exactly the same reason. Just put no value in either side and you’re free to move on and create.
Don’t let imposter syndrome or those pesky trolls prevent you from doing the very thing that makes you happy. Whether that be drawing, singing, dancing, or whatever. Just go and live your best life & Overcome artistic failure.