Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Success and What That Means

Welcome 2013! I'm back on the blog, after a bit of a hiatus. I have new thoughts and a new approach to this whole blogging thing. The economy as of late has been less that fabulous and I have noticed how much this has affected my creative friends. At first I was taken by surprise when my amazing friends, with many books published and giant fan followings, started calling and confiding how they were barely making money, how they weren't sure who they were anymore, how they were questioning themselves and what they were doing. First one, then two, then it seemed most of my creative friends were in this funk. From the outside, they appeared very successful. They had homes, they were published, they were in magazines, they lectured or taught. It occurred to me that this couldn't possibly be coincidence, and I don't believe in coincidence anyhow. I thought I should perk up and pay attention to this. Especially since I teach college, and it is my job to encourage brilliant young people to go out into the world and do this creative thing. How could I be responsible for sending them out into the universe knowing this climate?

So onto the new approach. I started to realize that we are delicate creatures by nature, and our egos, as my good friend Marilyn would say, could be held in a teaspoon. I think perhaps those decades of the 80s and 90s, where money was flowing, got us used to something that hadn't existed for a while if ever and that we needed to redefine what exactly success was.

I am going to attempt to encourage you the reader, if you have felt this funk, to have yourself a little paradigm shift with me. I have a good clue where this dialogue is going but not sure completely how it will unwind, so I am excited at the prospect of the journey. I just know that we creatives are certainly delicate, and if we have to measure our success by the amount of money we have brought in over the last year, we may teeter on the brink of giving it all up and getting a job at Home Depot. Not that that is a terrible option. I sometimes fantasize at the prospect of watering plants and ringing people up in the garden department, with no creative decisions to be made. Even Roark in The Fountainhead saw the sense in "a working man's job."

After my funk about a year ago, I started having Artist Playdates at my house. My amazingly talented friends came over, we ate and drank and drew on cardboard and wood and collaged and knitted and busted loose without editors or deadlines. I have emerged from these sessions a different person, and this is what I'm going to start blogging about. If I never made another dollar at this (no, universe, this is not what I want!) would I still be able to feel good about myself being in the presence of such wonderful people, creating art and having shows? What exactly is success?

The art I'm putting up today is for a show that will hang in the La Habra city gallery for the month of February with the OC Illustrator's Group. It is a direct result of the playdates. It isn't done and it's an experiment, so let's keep our fingers crossed that it works out. Next week I will blog about quilting, and how I am too dumb to take subtle hints on where my future lies. Until then, enjoy the process of Penelope and her butterflies.


  1. Love the butterflies! And thank you for hosting the play dates. The last one got me going crazy over creating stamps.

    I completely agree, work opportunities have changed for designers. The internet has brought us crowd sourcing and websites that host design "competitions" for teeshirt designs. Publishing is changing by the day.

    Some artists are making money but it is a really tough row to hoe.

  2. The artist play dates have really helped me too! I feel like we get caught up in our traditional ways of working and deadlines that we forget the importance of allowing ourselves to just play with our materials. It's not necessarily about creating a great piece of work. It's about the exploration and the experience of letting go :)

  3. Amen to both. The support and friendship of the creative group is a reason I feel successful! Thanks!