Wall Street Journal talking about how to be successful as a creative. To some, this might seem a completely out of reach task--earning and making a living doing what you love, and loving what you do, but others make it work. The conclusion of the article was that, like the old sneaker commercials, you should "just do it!"
While this might sound a bit simplistic, it's probably pretty close to the money (excuse the pun.) There are a lot of people claiming to be "creative types" who don't produce any work at all. As much as I hate to say it, sometimes even I fall into this category too. People love to sit around and talk about art and photography, music, or the like, but how many actually get out and do it?
If you talk to some musicians (seriously, try this sometime) just once, just for grins ask them something about a song that's on the top of the charts, right then, just as you are speaking with them. Odds are they won't know what song you're talking about. Why? Well, they don't keep up with charts. They're (usually) too busy making their own music, working in their own genre to worry about what Britney Spears is doing this week or the latest in Lady Gaga musings. They actually make music, they don't sit around and talk about it, so they don't keep up with the trends. Now, play a few notes and ask them what key signature it's in or how it was recorded/produced? Yeah, you'll get a different answer then. The same needs to be true for your photography.
There's nothing more powerful, more influential in your entire span of a career as an artist than you. Yes, you. YOU. There I said it again. YOU are the driving force behind your career. If you are sitting around, waiting to be "discovered," if you are waiting by the phone for that gallery to call, if you are sitting around thinking, "if only I could get my work into..." you are already a failure. Don't wait for the phone to ring, go out and, sorry to get all sneaker commercial on you here, but, "JUST DO IT!"
People somehow fall in love with this romantic notion of the "overnight success." They get visions of bands, rehearsing for years in a garage when, one day, by chance the postman walks by, oh and he happens to have a brother who is some "big record producer" and the rest? Oh yeah, that's history, right? I got news for you. History is what you make of it. Today's "in the moment" is tomorrow's history. History is how you define it, and you and only you can make things happen for yourself as an artist. If you want that gallery show, go out and get it. If the first gallery doesn't answer, try the second. If you fail, try again, this time, fail better. Eventually, success will taste all that much sweeter. Nobody remembers failures, everybody looks back on success but success comes through failure. You have to hear "no" a thousand times before the sound of "yes" can ring in your ears. That's just how it works.
Success can only come on your own terms. Only you can define success. What does it mean to you? What do you want? Where do you want to go with it? Nobody else can answer those questions and, if you sit around waiting for something to magically come along and *poof* answer them for you, well, that's making a choice too-it's nothing more than artistic cowardice, or letting the world define you. You're an artist, you're supposed to be a visionary, no go out and envision your own success, then make it happen.
Too many artists (myself included in this bunch!) talk about making work but don't produce enough. At the end of the day, it's all about the work, really. If you make two photos and you're lucky, well one of them might be nice. If you make two hundred, yeah, there's probably going to be a good one in that batch, right? Try making two thousand and seeing what happens. If you are a creative, the most powerful tool in your toolbox is the power to create. Use it. Go make stuff. Don't sit around yapping about it. The enemy of your productivity is the word "if." If only that gallery would call, "if" only I had more time to...forget "if" and just make. Create. Do what it is you do, each and every day. That, and that alone will make you a successful artist.
Each and every one of us has within us the power to make, the power to change, the power to be, and even the power to talk about it. Which one are you going to use today? Before you answer that question, I honestly hope you'll consider harnessing the power of YOU for all its worth.
Until next time...