There seems to be a common misconception among artists and even among the general public, for that matter, that I wanted to take a moment to dispel. Some are of the opinion that if they can just accomplish [insert goal here] that they will make it as an artist (although this applies to non-artists as well). The thing is, there will never be “one” gallery or “one” show or “one” award that will “make” you. I believe this misconception stems from what appears to be the overnight success of others. Anytime we hear about an artist or musician or athlete in the news for the first time (to our knowledge), we think they are an overnight success because we’ve never heard of them before and now they are famous. It wasn’t that they accomplished one particular goal and found instant fame. Sure, there is probably one particular accomplishment being highlighted in said news feature, but that’s simply because they need a hook for their story. The fact is, this person has been working their butt off “behind the scenes.” Just because we’ve never heard of them before doesn’t mean that this now-superstar wasn’t working two jobs or repeatedly getting rejected or struggling to make a name for themselves or all of the above at some point in time. I’ve heard of many artists that worked odd jobs and couldn’t get into galleries that are now successful.
In order to become a success at anything, whether you are an artist or not, is to diligently apply yourself to each opportunity. Sure, Larry Gagosian could walk into your studio, buy your work and make you a star overnight, but VERY rarely does that ever happen. And even in those instances, if you were to look backward you will see a series of small steps that led up to that moment. You have to build your career, brick by brick, layer by layer. There’s no quick-fix, magic pill, or get-rich-quick scheme that will do the work for you.
Although instant success would be nice, the good news is it’s much more realistic (and reassuring) to know that you are in control of your success. Rest assured that the steps you are taking now are improving your career rather than waiting around and just hoping for a lucky break. Take a look at what you’ve accomplished over the past year, or even over the past few years, and you will probably find that you’ve done much more than you ever thought possible. Now imagine what you could accomplish over the upcoming year, or five years from now, or ten. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown.
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