aka Anji’s Guide to Surviving Artistic Failure
Well, the campaign didn’t make it.
*looks over the poor thing and pats it*
Happens. Not all art connects. Or is at the right place at the right time. I’m not sure why the show failed to fund, but my suspicion is that galleries have little appeal for folks today, in a world of short attention spans and iPads. Which is really too bad. Gallery and museum spaces fulfill an incredible spot in human culture. But like libraries, well, they’re not very shiny, now are they? They require you to slow down and stand in front of a piece of art and take it in.
That changes you. *she says, thinking of standing in front of the David in Florence, Italy*
But what this failure in particular means is that I will not be doing any more gallery shows for the foreseeable future, self-funded or otherwise. I’ll be focusing on my commercial photography. I don’t know how I’ll be releasing my fine art photography yet, but I’ll burn that bridge when I get there. What I do know now with certainty is that galleries are now a complete dead end for fine art photographers.
In the meantime, I have been getting a lot of notes of condolence and they are wonderful, but they seem to be coming from a place of, “Oh, you must be devastated!”
Except I am not.
I realized that I am clearly reacting to this all in a way that is passing strange to some of you. So I figured I would share why I’m not curled up in a ball under my desk, sobbing hysterically and eating chocolate and a gallon of Hagen-Daaz in reaction to the campaign not making it.
This isn’t my first time to the rodeo. I’ve failed plenty of times in the past. As a result, I now have a four-step process for dealing with artistic failure/loss. And I realized, DUDE. I should actually not keep it to myself. So here it is:
First: allow yourself to grieve. Yes, that means if you feel like crying a little in the bathroom because it didn’t work out, *that is fucking fine.* Then go wash your face and breathe. Because it doesn’t matter and it’s not the end of the world. Really.
Second: red wine and strawberries, aka do something nice for yourself. In my case, doing something nice last night meant eating strawberries in heavy cream and drinking a glass and a half of red wine.
Third: go to your happy place. In my case, this meant cuing up Jill Scott’s Golden on the iPod this morning, followed by multiple George Michael dance songs. Because music is the fastest way to change my mood on earth and it reminds me that life is beautiful, even in the face of disappointment.
Fourth: move on to the next thing.
THIS STEP IS CRITICAL.
In my experience, dwelling on what didn’t happen, on if onlys, is the quickest way to block the fuck up.
DO NOT DO IT.
If you are at all committed to the life of creating something, you already have another project (if not twenty *looks mildly guilty*). If a project doesn’t work out, it means that something better is waiting out there for you.
Could I be full of shit? Could your mileage vary? Fuck yeah. But my experience has always been that failure is merely a project overreaching or being wrong for that moment in time. It always leads to more: more knowledge, more experience, more strength.
Besides. At the end of the day, I made the art for my own delight. And Alice and her friends did that and more.
Look at that.
Originally published at ANGELA N. HUNT. You can comment here or there.