There is no greater stumbling block for an artist than rejection. Even after a great solo show is mounted, if there are little or no sales, it can send an artist into a downward spiral. How can anyone withstand these slings and arrows? As Robert Storr alluded to in the first interview, it is about what you do with failure. We will all fail at a variety of attempts and projects, but how will you retool that failure so you can even use it to move forward? That is a personal technique not taught by schools or mentors, but by the passion that exists with you, within any given individual. It has also been said that art should be something that you must be compelled to do by an inner desire, a force you can’t stop.
I think that is one way to battle failure, to never give up, but there are other ways as well.
Another way is to approach failure as a learning tool. If you were a scientist, failure would not be considered a mistake or setback, but needed information to make something better. In art it is similar, we could choose to look at mistakes, setbacks and rejections as tools to make a better presentation, a better series of works, etc.
Another way to endure and retool failure might be to grin and bear it so to speak. That is, to keep working, keep making art, even if you are feeling set back by failure or disappointment.
Have faith that the sheer continuance of working will generate a break through and you will work with a lighter burden.
Another way to deal with failure is to give up. Leave your studio. Go somewhere that is at least 3,000 miles away or the furthest you can go. Stay there for three days to a week, don’t make art. Just think. Then come back and begin again.
There are many ways you could deal with setbacks and challenges, but an awareness that you are in a battle might help, especially if you gather fellow friends, peers, who are all in this with you together.
John Currin talked about friends just getting together to help each other. You could call it a support group, but it comes in many forms, and could also be a salon, or a revolution or a reading group.
Finding a group of friends that is supportive is also I believe what might save our planet, our species! More and more articles are written about our relative isolation as a community in our jobs and homes as opposed to working together with friends all day and eating and dancing afterwards.
A community that eats, dances and works together is a happy one it seems. I hope that some of the suggestions in this book will bring you more relationships, more friends, maybe even more dancing, and more laughing.
After all, “it’s who you know”, as they say, so why not get busy having fun and meeting people!
It’s why we are here on the planet I believe – we are here to make more friends, to be generous and kind, to dance and sing.
Phrases like that may sound like the stuff of cliché, but as artists, we are the ones to actually make that happen, we are the ones to gather friends, to invite others to dance, and ultimately to invite others to experience a universal form – your form – of beauty, which of course, is art.