An Artist Who Can't Sell Their Art
Updated: Jan 23, 2020
Are you even an artist if you can't sell your work?? Clearly its not good enough. It's overpriced. Has no meaning. No one is connecting to it. No ones liking it. Who are you anyway? A Physio trying to be an artist? Self Taught? Clearly you need to go back to uni. Or better yet just quit alltogether. You're never gonna make it so why are you even trying. You've just wasted so much money and now your partner is going to leave you because you don't bring in any money and you're a lost cause.
Yep. Thats what that little monster in my head has been saying to me during my recent exhibition where I did not sell one piece..... nudda one. I feel like their is some unwritten rule where we're not suppose to talk about our failures until we have succeeded and then can use them as a nice and sweet anecdote to boost moral and tell people everything's going to be ok. "Just look at me, I made it". I think that's great and all, and I truly believe that if you never quit than, yes, you will make it. Maybe not quite in the way you initially meant to but you will make it. But what about talking about it as it's happening? Making people feel ok to share their truth and say "Yep. I've reached this great goal of mine but it hasn't worked out and now I'm lost". I wish I knew of other artists that this has happened to. I'm sure there are people out there who bundled up all their hopes with this one great event, only to be let done rudely and have no success at all.
I mean, I know its not the end of world. I have my head screwed on to the fact that there are definitely much worse life scenarios that would effect me way more. But I am sad. I am lost. I have taken a big ego hit. I feel embarrassed and want to hide away.... But I won't. I've always had this thing where when something bad or embarrassing happens to me, the more people I tell the lighter the weight in my chest gets and the easier it is to move on. I think this can paint a picture of me of being a bit of a clutz, maybe a bit of a failure. But I think it also makes me look courageous right? Like, you can't have a 100 belt notches of fails without having 100 attempts at success? So that means 100 times of being courageous and stepping into the arena and saying - "Hey, I know I'm completely vulnerable right now but I'm here ok" and then proceeding to be belted the crap out of. That takes courage. And resilience.
The thing that I have learned, or am learning, is that getting back in the arena could take you a week or it could take you 10 years. Its processing the failure and then getting ready to get back in there. What I'm worried about is not getting back in the arena, about letting myself sit in this loss and embarrassment for years without getting the courage to try again.
I think it takes working on your self worth and confidence that gives you the bandages to fix yourself up and try again. Through this journey I've started learning my triggers for covering up my fear and hiding away from things that are uncomfortable or don't come naturally to me. I now know that I drink alcohol to numb those feelings so I can avoid coping with them. Instead of leaning into that vulnerability and having confidence in myself to navigate through the uncomfortable-ness to arrive safely on the other side, I drink. I drink and stumble my way through and sometimes I make it, sometimes I arrive at the same destination with a lot less pain because I've numbed myself through the process. But it means I haven't grown. I haven't learnt anything. It means I'm weak and that I need to change something.
I'm not saying drinking for me is bad per say. Alcohol can be delicious and fun and relaxing. It's when I use it to cover up my anxiety and lack of confidence that it's bad. So, instead, I write, I draw, I talk to friends and family. I meditate, I exercise, I try and show myself self love so that I can withstand these hits and so I can continue on this journey because I can't imagine life any other way.
If you are or have been in the same position as I am now I say this; Don't give up. Don't let the monster in your head win. Your work is good, its important and meaningful and needs to be put out into the world. You may not have found the exact way to express yourself or the exact people that need to see it, but you will.
The formula to success = Never Quit.