Last year around this time (December actually) I was browsing the Etsy Forums and came across a post that made me stop and think. I had been struggling with finding my identity as an artist (and still do everyday!) so this post really hit home for me.
posted a topic titled
. She relates a conversation between her and an artist friend.
I am still fairly new to this whole world of creating and selling said creations. Don't get me wrong.I am having a great time learning how to run my little shop, take photos, network, show in galleries, etc. I did feel a bit overwhelmed yesterday, so I went to visit an artist friend of mine. The business side of this process has really been a downer and I needed David to cheer me up. He is a very successful ceramic artist, but kind of a hermit. I arrived at his home studio where he was already sipping sangria at 10am and glazing a stunning sculpture piece. He is a shy man, who works in his studio, gardens, goes for hikes, and has a very small circle of friends. No website, no Twitter, no Facebook, no cell phone! I pointed these facts out to him and asked him how he promotes himself without these things, yet still has top galleries showing his work, collectors, television features, and consistent sales. He pointed out to me that he also has, a modest house, a used car, and a simple life.
David: "If I wanted to be rich, I made a poor career choice. I do my work, put it in a few places and let it be. It takes time."
Me: "What if you don't want to be rich, but you want to be able to live and do what you love, but there is so much competition out there. I feel like such a small fish in this huge pond. I'm afraid I will never be seen. I haven't even sold anything yet during this Christmas rush. I've hardly sold anything period!"
David: "Do the work, stay out of the results"
Me: "What the heck does that mean?"
David:" You are a small fish, deal with it. Just do your work, do it well and with integrity. Do the work to please yourself and maybe the rest will come, maybe not. Maybe you always drive a used car. Maybe you don't sell and have to work two jobs, so what! You work just to sell...you kill the spirit!"
Me: "But if I don't sell my work, I don't feel like I can call myself an artist."
David: "What would you say if I told you, You are not a woman?"
Me: "I would beg to differ."
David: " What would you say if I told you, You are not an artist?"
Me: "I would probably be hurt."
David: "There is your problem! Fact...you are a woman, yes? To say different would be laughable. You would laugh at my stupidity to say otherwise! Yet I say you are not an artist and it hurts you because you don't believe it is fact! If you don't believe how will anyone else believe? You are too worried about results! Do the work little fish."
I poured myself a large glass of sangria."
I printed this conversation out and read it at least once a week to remind myself the work itself is what is important - not the results. Of course I wish I made something perfect, breathtaking, etc each and every time I created something, but I know that is not possible. It's not possible for anyone! We all have struggles and frustrations in our process. It helps knowing that other people are in the same boat!