“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
The reason I am so adamant about measuring success only by your own standards, is that it can be so so easy to give up in this intense creative world. Sure, everyone’s standards of success differ – some may consider success simply having fun, others affluently selling their work, and really everything in between. But no matter your measure, if you let fear and the opinions of others seep into your photographic work, you’ll no longer be creating genuine and fulfilling work.
By dictionary definition, success is ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose (it’s also ‘the attainment of popularity or profit,’ but let’s focus on the first one for now.
I think the path to creative success begins with a pride in your work. Are you creating work that you love, that fills your creative craving? Maybe your work isn’t always your definition of complete perfection, but can you look at your latest image and think ‘this is it, I’m getting it, this is where I need to be?’ If not, why not?
The other day when the StuckinPastic group was chatting during one of our (in)frequent hang outs, one of the group revealed themselves to be a metrics watcher. It was a subtle comment, but as someone who also watches my social media metrics, I recognized myself in that comment; and frankly I didn’t like what I saw. Continue reading The Problem with Metrics
In LEGO, We Connect has been up for three weeks and I realize that I had some pretty lofty goals for the show. With each passing day I gain a little more distance and have been better able to judge what did and did not happen. So often as an artist you are too close and too emotionally involved to be able to judge what success looks like.
I am going to say right off that by any measure this show was a raging success. The amount of press coverage we received was phenomenal and the news still seems to be trickling through the inter-webs. The opening was well attended and everyone who came had a great time. The response to the work was overwhelmingly positive for all three of us. There was even one significant sale. Seriously who can ask for more?
When it comes to building a career it is never about instant success. Success might seem like it happened overnight, but it is always built on a series of small advances and forward movement that helps to strengthen you and help you grow as an artist. When I asked Vesa why he agreed to come to Seattle all those months ago, he told me simply that he always says “Yes”. What a great philosophy to live by, I think I will have to do the same. You never know what doors will open for you when you say “yes.” Sure there will be risks (both emotional and financial), but without risk you never know what is possible.
For me this experience has definitely enriched my life by the friends I made and the giant step forward my work took. The experience of editing and printing large can never be overstated. It was so far outside my expertise that it was frightening and exhilarating in equal measures. But the joy of seeing my photos large on a wall, rather than on a phone or tablet, cannot be over stated. The press coverage that the show received (and will receive, but more on that later) is only going to help me to continue moving forward. I have faith that a sale might still happen, but that is not how I am measuring this shows success.
So what does success look like? It looks like everything else…do the work and enjoy the process.
I realized after I wrote this that not everyone has people banging on their door like Avanaut. So the chance to say “yes” may not seem like a possibility. But I have found that opportunities seem to present them selves if you are open to them. If not, you can always do what I do, ask for them. If you are interested in displaying and possibly selling your work start small. Look for a local cafe or small group show. Get involved with your local photo community, build your on-line network and generally make yourself available for anything that may come along. It’s a brave new world out there! ~ xxSJC