jealous & alone… or maybe not

This is a slight, ok, a major departure from my normal posts, but I really wanted your help with this:

I have been thinking about loneliness a lot lately, mainly due to a close friend who is having a really hard time with being an artist. I wanted to write something because I know, I just know, that she’s not alone! Her self-proclaimed problem is that she equates her success as an artist, with her personal self-worth… if she sells, she’s a rock star… if she doesn’t, she’s a huge failure on a catastrophic level. Sound familiar? The emotional roller coaster of trying to be a full time artist is breaking her heart, and it’s breaking my heart to watch her. My advice was for her to take the summer off from trying to sell anything. ANYTHING. I think she should spend the next few months just creating, simply because it brings her joy… because I’m sure that’s why she started making art in the first place. Experiment, make mistakes {if that’s even possible}, try new techniques, get really messy! Why not – it’s summer time, you can wash yourself off with the garden hose.

When your dream is to be a full time artist, it’s very easy to get caught up in creating work that you think will be a “big seller”. I recently sold two pieces in my Etsy shop, both of which had bears in them. I immediately thought “Ok, I should make more work with bears… people love bears!!!” Yep, that’s when I get squirrely… which is also the exact moment I stop having fun. My friend is not having fun. At all. In fact, she is very sad, and that’s not why any of us became artists, right? We are artists because, since childhood, we have loved making things. ANYTHING. If someone wants to buy your work, that’s fantastic, but if it doesn’t bring you joy, then seriously, what is the point.

Anyway, I told my friend that I was going to write this. I said, “Just you wait! A zillion people are going to comment and say they feel exactly the same way… and the ones that don’t, are going to have some great advice. So, go to it you guys! Tell her… she’s not alone, right?

{Image by Tiina Heiska}






comments (59)

  1. annie (the annilygreen one) /// 06.13.2011 /// 7:15am

    oh, of COURSE she’s not alone! i’m actually in the middle of one of those selling-breaks, and it feels so good. it seems like the stuff i’m making now is more likely to sell than stuff i make just because someone bought one before…just because it’s truly me. my uncle is a seriously successful artist, and his wife told me something i try to remember. make stuff for your house. never create anything just for sale….make everything with your taste and your home in mind. it’s the only way to guarantee that it will be YOU, which is what people are buying when they buy your art….your style, your creation…not necessarily just a product.

    plus we all need to remember that selling stuff is difficult, and it’s ok if it takes a while to get it going.

  2. Jenn /// 06.13.2011 /// 7:34am

    Oh man, that really does sound familiar. It’s such a common problem with artists to do this to themselves. It’s part of what makes us so great; that we hold ourselves to such high standards- something that almost no one in any other profession does quite the same way. But it’s also what can really hurt us. I go through exactly what your friend is going through approximately once a year. It’s a cycle that seems impossible to avoid, and almost always follows a period of really great artistic production and success. My advice to your friend is pretty similar to yours- take a break from selling stuff, but ALSO, maybe take a little break from making things. Instead, tell her to take a little time off, see a movie, read a book, do stuff that doesn’t have to do with art, and THEN, after a little break, go everywhere, look at everything that inspires her. I always love driving around historic areas, or going to the zoo, or looking at artistic blogs (like this one!). I always come back feeling refreshed, inspired (usually to make stuff that it completely different from what I was doing before) and re-fueled. It’s a good opportunity for change. And I cannot stress this enough; when the opportunity for artistic change comes around, NOT ONCE has taking the road for change been a mistake. Not once. If all that fails, just reassure her that her best artistic creations are ahead of her, not behind her.

  3. Kathleen /// 06.13.2011 /// 8:07am

    YES. I have felt the EXACT same way.

    One thing that helps is building a community for yourself full of like-minded creatives. Have coffee with another artist friend. Start a blog. Share your work in ways that don’t involve money. Make art that is strictly not for sale – one of my favorite projects to this day was a personal documentation of a trip I took to Nepal. It wasn’t for sell and it kept me from working on profitable work for an entire month but I wouldn’t trade the experience (or the project that resulted) for the world.

    xo!

  4. marcia /// 06.13.2011 /// 8:17am

    I really love this post because it is so true. My husband & I have both been struggling with these feelings, having been out of the art loop since my pregnancy, and when you’re talking about the art world, a couple of years may as well be a lifetime! Selling isn’t and should never be the point despite how easy it is to make it a gauge of success. Personally we are contemplating the idea of free artwork just to remove ourselves from that measuring system!

  5. The Storialist /// 06.13.2011 /// 8:37am

    Not alone one bit. I share my poems on website everyday, and some writers consider this a big risk. Just like the art world, the poetry world is totally about risk and failure (.000001% of poetry books make a profit).

    I hope your friend keeps making her work, and knowing that it is meaningful to people who look at it (I also find that focusing on practice, especially day-to-day, allows me to make my best work).

  6. Carrie /// 06.13.2011 /// 8:41am

    This is so true. I’ve always enjoyed and been good at art and graduated art school with an animation degree, but as soon as the pressure was on to produce content for a portfolio, drawing couldn’t seem any less fun. Too much stress trying to figure out what to draw that was going to please any given recruiter when they all seemed to be looking for different things. I still work in animation, but in management, so if I do decide to do an art project on the side it’s totally for me and I can really enjoy it.

    My husband, on the other hand, works as an animator full time–long hours. He’s kind of on this bipolar cycle where some days he comes home feeling like he’s the best ever and some days feels like everything he does is crap and everyone hates him. (I’m sure he’s doing fine… his work is consistently good, but listening to his constant emotional roller coaster is a little exhausting.) Spending all of his creative energies at work though, kind of takes up all of his time so he can’t squeeze in any personal projects he’d like to do.

    Some people think that being an artist is an easy job, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s extremely difficult to constantly come up with new ideas that not only please yourself, but can guarantee you an income. I don’t really have any advice for her friend, but I can tell her that although artistic slumps suck, they’re totally normal. With the downs come the ups, though so I’m sure she’ll bounce back with better creations than ever!

  7. Andrea /// 06.13.2011 /// 11:08am

    man. yeah. you start creating what you think people want to see. i had a recent painting where i started it, planned it, and halfway through hated it. only because it was something i wasnt doing for myself. so halfway through i flipped the entire painting 90 degrees. so it was something completely different. i then visualized something else, something new to me and to everyone else. i finished it, loved it, and kept it. i couldnt part with it! thats when i know i did something great. now i have to learn to part ways with a painting that i love.

  8. Andrea /// 06.13.2011 /// 11:10am

    man. yeah. you start creating what you think people want to see. i had a recent painting where i started it, planned it, and halfway through hated it. only because it was something i wasnt doing for myself. so halfway through i flipped the entire painting 90 degrees. so it was something completely different. i then visualized something else, something new to me and to everyone else. i finished it, loved it, and kept it. i couldnt part with it! thats when i know i did something great. now i have to learn to part ways with a painting that i love. and thats when people want your work, they want things you do for yourself, something that you have created and love and now have a hard time parting with.

  9. Jessica /// 06.13.2011 /// 11:58am

    Your friend is absolutely, 100%, NOT alone. I relate to your saying “We are artists because, since childhood, we have loved making things. ANYTHING.” It is difficult to hold on to how much you love creating when there is constant pressure to measure, price, and tailor your artwork. When you stop loving it, it’s definitely time to reevaluate what you are doing, why you’re doing it, and for whom. I think your advise is spot on and I wish your friend all the bravery and courage in the world to keep creating for no one but herself, and to keep in touch with her childhood love of making things. xo

  10. the jealous curator /// 06.13.2011 /// 1:02pm

    see!? i knew you were all going to come back with encouraging, inspiring words. thank you so much for reaching out! xoxo

  11. Adrienne /// 06.13.2011 /// 1:25pm

    I agree. Needless to say more.

  12. lillianna /// 06.13.2011 /// 2:18pm

    Hello Friend of Jealous Curator,
    You are definitely not alone! Creating art is all about perseverance. “Failure” (which I don’t really believe in, its more like a learning curve:) and being told no and being knocked down is all part of the creative growing process. Make mistakes, make tons of them, and don’t think about selling your work. Just make it, for you. And before you know it, people will start connecting with your work because its real, and honest, and selling may eventually come from that, but in no way shape or form is selling any kind of measuring stick for success. Keep putting yourself out there, keep creating because you have to, and I guarantee you doors will open, slowly and in there own time, but they will. Be stubborn, keep doing it, and remember you are not alone. Wishing you all the success in the world. <3

  13. christina /// 06.13.2011 /// 2:27pm

    What an awful feeling! We all know it well, and it is definitely a doozy to shake. Contrary to popular belief, I think we create more fully when we feel happy. You have to create for yourself first, because you’re sharing yourself through your work.

    Really, at moments like this, it is really best to spend time creating simple things to remember why you started in the first place. Take a basic idea and really nurture it. I always love to go back to square one and enjoy a single color for once. Remember how that used to feel? There is always time for layers, but you have to make time to remember simplicity.

    Keep creating. You’ve got no where to go but up.

    -Christina

  14. Laura Daub /// 06.13.2011 /// 2:46pm

    Your post and all the comments are so bang on and I agree I think we all must feel this way at certain times. Thank you for posting… As I just recently opened up a shop again, I feel the ups and downs daily! It can be so tempting to just create what seems to be popular at the moment and I’m constantly having to remind myself to create what I enjoy. I know success in a career (that I almost consider a necessity in my life) will come! All the best to your friend!

  15. liv /// 06.13.2011 /// 2:57pm

    It’s not about making money it’s about realizing what started out as a alittle glittering glimpse in your mind, a glimpse of something beautiful and fantastic. Forget about the rest of the world and lose yourself in the moment.

  16. Cathy /// 06.13.2011 /// 3:48pm

    This one line keeps coming up lately–Remain detached from the outcome.

    I know exactly how your friend feels, and you too, because I feel it every day. One thing I have been trying to do is NOT look at art blogs, websites, etc (okay, I do look at yours) because all I do is compare myself to all this great art and feel like a) everything I am doing is wrong or b) I must learn to paint like them to be successful. I have been trying to kinda lock myself away and not be influenced and see what happens. I am kinda lucky in that I have a full time graphics business that pays the bills, but that also keeps me from jumping in whole-heartedly into my painting, which I what I truly desire.

    That’s why I think, since we can’t all get a huge warehouse to share painting space with and encourage each other, we have a “space” like your site to share this and talk. I would love to see more of it!

    You are right on in your suggestion of her just relaxing and stop trying too hard for awhile. We can definitely be our own worst enemies, though the great stuff that makes us artists can also do us in. At least she still cares, that is a positive note!

  17. Gina /// 06.13.2011 /// 4:00pm

    Hi Lonely Friend,

    I used to feel like you did, and I quit making art all together – lost my way and gave up. I got my bachelor of education and decided to be a teacher. Funny thing happened – now that I am a teacher and have income , all my creative juices have started flowing again! I am making things I haven’t done in years, I am making what I want, and getting that blissful feeling that I get when I am ‘in the zone’. I will slowly get my stuff out there, but now that it is not all of me, the pressure is off. Now I view my long life as part time teacher to support my art. It’s a good gig. I think it’s dangerous when as an artist we invest everything into it, because if our investment doesn’t pay off…then what? I say, branch out. It’s a beautiful thing. go Canucks.

  18. Rowan Moore-Seifred /// 06.13.2011 /// 4:03pm

    Not sure if I can add anything here except to say that I fell into a horrible depression a few years back triggered by an interaction with a client, about my design work. I felt he had put a name to how I felt about myself and my work, I had been revealed for the fraud I knew I was, it was shocking and i wanted to curl up and give up. I couldn’t make anything I thought everything was crap, me, my ideas, everything I touched. I wallowed in it. At some point I realized I was being too hard on myself and I began reading the Artists Way which I had always totally poo pooed. I began the daily writing practice and started to change what my inner messaging was to myself. My ideas are my ideas, the things I make are my things made by me. The act of writing and painting and sewing, doing it well and thoughtfully, sinking into the activity is what holds me here on earth, breathing and living as an artist. It is hard and sometimes I feel very alone in it and then I think about what a gift is it to be able to express myself and I go for a walk and look at grass and pet the dog and tell myself something nice about myself.

  19. the jealous curator /// 06.13.2011 /// 4:16pm

    that’s fantastic rowan! this blog exists because of ‘the artist’s way’. i did it the summer before i launched the blog, and it literally changed my life. i told my friend to do it too… she’s on week 3 or 4 now. hopefully it will help her, the way it helped us : )

    ps. and gina… go canucks go!!!

  20. Cassie McDaniel /// 06.13.2011 /// 4:48pm

    Just saw this today. Seems appropriate – “I never been a millionaire, but let me tell you somethin’, I think I am … Anything you do, you want to do it and you love it, you rich. You a millionaire, man.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvIKTkHeulM&feature=youtu.be&t=3m39s

  21. Cathy /// 06.13.2011 /// 4:55pm

    sorry, just one more thing to add to my comments…I don’t necessarily think we should try and rid ourselves of these insecurities, “shortcomings”, fears and loneliness. I think they are an important part of the process and who we are and what makes us keep trying. I just think we need to incorporate them into our lives with other feelings so that we aren’t hindered by them, but propelled by them.

    okay, I’ll stop now!

  22. Samantha /// 06.13.2011 /// 5:01pm

    Oh wow, how I relate! I think this is such a common issue. Everyday I go through different emotions regarding my work and it always comes back to me as a person. I can’t get this painting right = I’m a complete failure to an hour later getting an email from a client telling me how much they love their piece = ahh, okay, lets get back in the studio. I also think spending 10-14 hour days in what basically amounts to isolation really adds to it. I’m a social person but the busier I get the more my hermit tendencies come into play and I have to force myself to make dinner plans with friends. I love what I do and am so incredibly lucky to be able to pay the bills but it has and I can only assume will continue to be a struggle trying to disconnect my work and success from my self worth. I know so many artists that face this problem. I remember when I was in my third year of art school and I asked my professor (who is incredibly talented and has won some of the most prestigious grants) when he knew he was an artist and this was what he was suppose to do with his life, he laughed at me and said he still has doubts about it. I think it is also hard reading blogs and seeing all this amazing work being put out everyday online and constantly trying to keep up and measure yourself against other artists careers. I have to remind myself that I can’t compare my work to other artists and have to keep making paintings that I want to see and that challenge me.

    Great post, thanks for starting this discussion!

  23. Samantha /// 06.13.2011 /// 5:05pm

    This is 20 minutes but well worth the watch! Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love fame talks about the creative process.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA

  24. the jealous curator /// 06.13.2011 /// 5:10pm

    thanks samantha! it really hits home when you realize that people (like you!) who are hugely successful with their work have those roller coaster moments too. i started this blog because i was jealous of so many other artists’ work – it was truly stopping me before i even started. well, now that i find great art everyday you’d think i’d be even more stalled, but it’s had the opposite effect. it has shown me that there is room for everyone, every style. sure, it’s really subjective, but someone out there will love my work, especially if i love it first!

  25. Corinna Marcia /// 06.13.2011 /// 5:10pm

    Oh what she is going through is super common (not that that trivializes it at all). What helped me after a really big slump was taking an art class at the community college, in a medium I had never tried before. It was really interesting and really fun to just learn a new technique! And it helped remind me that the whole point of doing it is for yourself.

  26. the jealous curator /// 06.13.2011 /// 5:11pm

    oh! i love that TED talk!!! one of my all time faves – good idea to throw that link into this discussion!

  27. Lydia /// 06.13.2011 /// 6:40pm

    She will do her best, most brilliant art, when she does the art that pleases her…

    She’ll find that out if she takes your wise advice. :)

  28. Megan /// 06.13.2011 /// 7:17pm

    I just want to scream from the rooftops, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We all feel that way! I JUST put my work out there, and wow does it make you feel naked, but the response I got from people was so positive it made me so happy, even though I’ve only sold a few pieces, it’s ok, I loved the process of making it. Great post! Now I need to read all of the comments, which I’m sure are brilliant & inspiring!

  29. nechristensen /// 06.13.2011 /// 7:24pm

    i get it…

    read: Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland

    watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqZAxLqJkzA

    ne christensen

  30. A /// 06.13.2011 /// 7:45pm

    There’s so much good advice here. She’s brave; you’re all brave and beyond for even attempting to make a living as artists, and it’s not an impossible dream. But I have no doubt it is not easy, which is why I’m still working full-time in a frustrating, unfulfilling, but stable and well-paying job.

    Whatever your friend is going through, I want her to know that what’s worse than the all-consuming doubt she’s suffering is never even attempting to make a living doing what you love. I’m missing my calling and I know it, but I’m too afraid to take that leap. At some point, she put aside her fears and insecurities and took a bold step towards a fulfilling life. She had to know it wouldn’t be easy.

    I read recently that security is an illusion… my well-paying job could vanish tomorrow (actually, due to Federal funding cuts, it probably will in September — and I’m going to try to make a living with my art). And your friend is probably to some extent feeling the results of the recession like the rest of the country. People have less disposable income. Could she try different markets, different avenues of exposure? Art needs to come from inspiration, not from marketing, but it is still a business. We are still selling something. People can’t buy it if they never see it. And yet I think we all fall into that trap that we need to make what people want… we need to paint bears.

    Good luck to her. I hope she stays brave, because she’s already a success.

  31. Tracey /// 06.13.2011 /// 9:57pm

    I made a decision that everything in my home is potentially for sale and then I have other things for sale as well. I have found that it’s the pieces that I enjoy the most that are the best seller’s. So I figured if I just think of it for myself and it sells then great and if it doesn’t then I still have something for myself that I love and guaranteed one day those too will find a buyer and it will most likely be the day you think of taking it off the market cause you have a new found admiration for it yourself. I know what your friend is going through cause she just happens to be my sister. I love you!

  32. the jealous curator /// 06.13.2011 /// 10:52pm

    so sweet tracey! you’re a good sister : )

  33. consuelo mendez /// 06.14.2011 /// 7:17am

    dear friend: it is a very familiar place for us artist to be in, that one in which your friend is in right now. I would tell her to read “Letters to a young poet” by Rainer Marie Rilke, or I would even give it to her as a present, and I am sure this will help. I also feel it is important to really feel that sadness and/or loneliness to understand herself, to listen to herself, to enter that silence and void. We human beings never stay in the same place, eventually we move. Tell her that. Art means “making soul”, it is a path we walk on and once we are on it we never go off it even if we think we do get lost. Sometimes we need time…..SALUD!

  34. Jenn /// 06.14.2011 /// 8:18am

    How and when people choose to buy is a mystery to me. I don’t even understand why I buy some things! It is very hard to walk the line between making art and selling it. Hard to sell the things you love, hard to put a price on them, hard to step forward and demand attention (but if you don’t no one will know you are there).

    The people who’ve already answered have said it so much better than I can – your friend is not alone!

  35. Kye Sangha /// 06.14.2011 /// 10:49am

    There are times when I get so discouraged-like I cant even ~give~ my work away…& there are times when I feel like people only want it when I -do- give it away… and then there is when I’m actually making art. And I love that part. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world-especially putting ourselves out there on such a personal level-that feeling of deep rejection is very painful.
    A while back I started an Artfire shop. I got a lot of hits & a lot of treasuries & no sales. NONE. 2 weeks ago I put my shop on vacation, made a commitment to myself to just do art-journal work, or simple fun stuff… I feel so much better! So much so that now I’m working on a new shop (with Etsy) & it has an entirely new feel- it actually reflects my personality. And I’m excited: I realized, going through the old shop, that I had let other people dictate what went into the shop & how things were written…etc etc.
    I’m still doing simple stuff for the rest of the month. And through it I’m finding the direction of my next series of paintings, the strength to let my crappy shop & it’s crappy facebook page go, & excitement in new ventures. Good luck to you! And remember- rejection/depression is probably the universal unifier for artists! No reason for you to get away scott free!

  36. the jealous curator /// 06.14.2011 /// 5:11pm

    i am so unbelievably touched and impressed by your comments. they are warm, heart-felt, and inspiring. thank you so much! oh, and i’ve spoken to my friend… she has been pouring over your well thought out responses, and is already feeling much better. so thank you… from both of us. xo

  37. Cheri /// 06.14.2011 /// 10:18pm

    Hello, JC’s friend! I echo all the wise & decent folks posting here today, but there’s one thing missing that I think is also very important. I don’t want to sound all scold-y, yet I really really really want to emphasize this point: You are not your work, nor are you your work’s current or future “success” or “failure”. You are you. A composite. A complexity. A body. The host to all manner of memories and experiences, behind you and ahead of you. A maddening list of roles. You get my drift. “You” are not “your work,” and it’s a bad bargain, I think, to volunteer to believe that your own self is that limited, that unfree, that much at the mercy of a marketplace, a bunch of strangers, an economy, a particular aesthetic zeitgeist, a learning curve, etc. I hope you will build an internal scaffolding capable of supporting you through your doubts, the dry spells, the inevitable (and fruitful) failures, and the dumb/insensitive/careless/destructive people/clients/curators/peers. And I hope you’ll not let your identity be tied to your successes, either. Make a firmer, less fickle, more self-determined center . . . otherwise life will be one long, continuous case of emotional and professional whiplash, which, ya know, would suck. It sucks already, and you’re just getting started. You can do this — the experience of yourself as an artist — differently; in this, too, be defiant, be true, be new.

  38. i eye iye! /// 06.15.2011 /// 7:11am

    i think our generation has to fight the confusing world of success. what is success and why do we want it so badly. If we go back to the time of the great ones, we see that selling their work wasn’t the goal. They were in it, they were creating and loving and yes at times going crazy- but they were true artists- they needed it to survive, a bloodline even. As an artist i fell in love with the process. the creating. the thinking, the possibilities. i get upset at myself when i do not create. if i were to throw measuring my success by how much i sell or even if i could sell, i would think that would drive me insane. selling your work should be an added bonus- a gift even. whatever it is that you make, you should make it with your heart, with your hands till they can’t take it anymore. it should be part of you, are you willing to compromise a part of you for profit? profit is good, yes, but it shouldn’t be something that gets you down because it is not happening.
    I wrote a post about the struggles of my art life. My really good friend had the opportunity to talk with Christo- the amazing artist. one line he said was, “I work all my life because art is our life.”. Sends chills to my thoughts. I think we artists can stray away from what is real and when that happens it can do strange things. i think about christo’s line and try and remember that when things get loose. I wish you the best- it is good, grand even to go through such a time in your time, it only makes you stronger when you bounce back- you’ll see. because you experience it, it makes everything else that much clearer. yes.
    if you want to take a read:
    http://quiet-alterations.blogspot.com/2011/04/productive-procrastinators.html

  39. i eye iye! /// 06.15.2011 /// 7:16am

    Sorry- me again. In case you don’t read my post, I want you to read Christo’s words- they should be read by every artist today.

    Pete asked: You are in a position to self-fund your projects, but many young artists are not. What would you tell them – do you have recommendations, encouragement, advice?

    Christo Replied:
    “Who are we to give advice? Every human has his own life and her life, and it is a very private thing. And this is so important because this is probably one of the greatest luxuries that humans have: that they have a life. But of course for the young people who like to do art, they should work on their art. I never take a vacation; I work all my life because art is our life. And if you work all the time with no diversion, you will do what you like to do. The biggest problem is to know what you like to do. And often the young artists they do not know. They are all dispersed, do too many things. I don’t know. You need to be extremely focused.”

  40. Kate /// 06.15.2011 /// 7:46pm

    She is definitely not alone.

  41. Stacey /// 06.16.2011 /// 6:18am

    Wow! An amazing post and amazing comments! I do hope your friend finds her way and continues to create. She is definitely not alone.

    Currently I share this state on that downward slippery slop to a very negative place. I don’t like this place at all and I find the best medicine for me is to just walk away from everything and just create! It usually brings me out of the self doubt and into believing in what I create. It pushes all the other thoughts of producing and selling right out the window. Creating doesn’t mean I am illustrating or sculpting … i might find myself painting a room or baking in the kitchen or sewing. Those are things that I also enjoy.

    I think why we connect our art so closely to who we are is because we are putting so much of ourselves out there. We expose ourselves in many ways that other professions don’t. It took me a long time to put myself out there and not hide behind the name of a company. Heck it took me a long time to call myself an artist and yet all my life I have gravitated to creating and I have been involved in a creative field.

    My very loving and supportive husband once said to me ” you havn’t picked an easy road” and my response to his statement was felt deep in my soul. I knew he was right and yet I knew that like i eye iye who shared with us Christo’s line that “art is our life”. I couldn’t imagine not creating in my life.

    Sometimes we need to take other side roads to help us on this journey. When I had children I had no time to focus on my art so I focused on some of the other things I do creatively like drawing with them, baking and sewing halloween costumes.

    I might have to take one of those side roads once again as unfortunately a need for me to return to the workplace is a must. My heart does ache as I truly want to be able to be able to continue with this creative journey that I am currently on. Maybe that is why I am feeling so negative. This post and all of it’s comments have really helped. Sharing also has helped so thank you to the jealous creator for this.

    All of my very best to your friend and to all you fellow artists in our creative journey’s.

  42. the jealous curator /// 06.16.2011 /// 7:46am

    i love that the one thing most of these comments have in common, is the idea that, as artists, we have no choice but to create… as painful as it can be sometimes. i always try to remember the 7 year old me. she made stuff purely because it was fun, and didn’t worry about selling, reps, or galleries. i can remember finding colored thread, or ribbons, or some old pastels in my mom’s art studio (yep, my mom’s an artist too)… and i would steal all of it and get to work, all for the pure thrill of making something that i could display proudly in my room. that’s what i’m trying to get back to, because THAT was fun!
    good luck to all of you on your journeys! clearly, none of us are alone in this xo

  43. Sara /// 06.17.2011 /// 2:25pm

    not alone. I look at the situation from a really wide and abstract perspective, for myself. First I want to find fulfilling work, what ever that is, and I don’t care if it ‘makes me invisible’ or if it is something others recognize. I want balance and some kind of stability (even financial.. eek the ‘money’ word,) so I can take the heat off of my work and grow with it. If I could teach art, that would be awesome, or if I can teach the possibility of nurturing life-long creativity, that’s good. I don’t live in a vacuum so finding some point of intersection is meaningful, in and outside of my work. And the art? It’s there, at what ever level. By the way, the painter illustrating this post is amazing. Tina Heiska. Now, If i were that painter, I’d expect to earn a living doing my work, because it’s amazing. But if not, she has an amazing body of work: all that color and form. An inspiration. One day at a time.

  44. michelle /// 06.20.2011 /// 6:28pm

    It’s a terrible, horrible, double-bind being a professional artist. It means having to bare your soul for money – which is going to leave you flailing whichever way you look at it. Nobody is buying your soul this week? – how can you not take that personally… If you make art to sell (because after all it’s your job), you risk the same rejection, or get caught up not making soulful works and struggling anyway it’s a cop out but we all need to pay the bills. And the worst thing about success? Having to repeat it again, and again. Knife-edge stuff. You need to be tough as nails and dance on a feather. A very hard balancing act for most of us.

    Honestly, the most wonderful moments I’ve had as an artist are not those shows when red dots come up immediately, but when you discover someone has been talking about your work – quietly and passionately and you know – that even if they didn’t buy anything, they took something away in enrichment. That’s when it’s all worth it. Doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s worth it. I hope she’s getting some of that – it’s worth more than gold.

    I went back to work in the end, to pay the bills. I’m still doing the art whenever I can, for me, and selling slowly, but it’s a less emotional arrangement. Art for joy’s sake, and money sometimes. Send her some love from me. She’s not alone.

  45. the jealous curator /// 06.20.2011 /// 8:37pm

    thank you michelle – such passionate (and true) advice!

    ps. just so all of you know, my friend has read every word you’ve written. we both feel so blessed and touched to have had a chance to hear from other people going through the same thing. thank you again. xo

  46. becca /// 06.22.2011 /// 9:30am

    Good luck and hang in! I know the feeling all too well, and then sometimes I start to feel like the unpopular kid in high school again — not one of cool kid “chosen” artists who just seem to have success after success! But you have to remember we all have struggles and you just have to keep hanging in. Try a new medium, or give yourself a project to get out of your rut by making a bunch of things — like a painting a day for the next month, bad or good, it doesn’t matter! Also, as someone with mental health issues in my family, I know it is so important that you shouldn’t be afraid to get help if you really start feeling depressed and lacking self-worth.

  47. Leah /// 06.25.2011 /// 9:39pm

    Thank you so much for posting about your friend, and thanks to all the other artists who have posted here. I too know the feeling all too well, and it just sucks the creativity right out of you, and the desire to work, when you start worrying about what is selling or what people like, or anything like that. Then I just dread walking in the studio. This is why I love your site, and look at it, because you take such joy in beautiful work, and the work is always really inspiring. I’ve been giving myself tasks, like “draw a bug today”, or “weeds”. It’s really hard, though, always expecting so much of yourself, and frequently not meeting those expectations. Your friend will come out of it, she will remember why she makes art in the first place, and it isn’t for some random viewer who loves/doesn’t love her work! It’s because SHE loves it. That’s all that matters, but sometimes so hard to see!!

  48. robyn /// 06.26.2011 /// 10:52am

    I love reading all this advice. Thank you so much for sharing this post.
    The last couple of years I set goals for my online shop. The first year was to sell an item a week, and I did it, then the next year was to sell 2 items a week and I did that. It filled me with so much pride. This year I have set a new goal. It’s not for my shop, but has been filling my soul equally. I have been sending out an original piece of mail art through the post every single day this year.
    The advice given above suggesting to take a break from selling art to make art for yourself is great advice and I think it’s a route I have taken this year, without even realizing it.
    I’m also a big believer in taking breaks from art and taking time to live and fill up your cup of inspiration. Your artwork and soul will thank you later.

  49. Heather /// 06.28.2011 /// 3:08pm

    I would hope that all creative souls could be happy and anxiety free … free in mind, body, and spirit to do what they’re compelled to do … create! It’s a reminder to continue to buy art and handmade items when possible and support our artists. What would our world be without them?

  50. Ann Marie /// 07.25.2011 /// 5:38am

    just found your blog. love it, and love this post. so well written, and with love for your friend and in support of pulling her out of her suffering. well done.

  51. the jealous curator /// 07.25.2011 /// 4:38pm

    thanks ann marie. not my usual kind of post, but it turned out to be so inspiring… not the post, but the comments left by all of you! they absolutely blew me (and my friend) away! in fact, she has printed them all out and flips through them on bad days. i love this community… so many amazing people.

  52. Trenda Plunkett (a.k.a. Kalliope Bell) /// 08.26.2011 /// 5:28pm

    I so needed to read this today! Thank you so much! Earlier today, I blogged about a new oracle card deck and then included a reading I did for myself. My query: “What is blocking my financial success as a reborn doll artist?” I’m on Etsy too, and feeling bad about not selling a doll yet has been sapping my creative energy. I love the synchronicity of finding a post with a similar theme here.

    Bright Blessings!

  53. the jealous curator /// 08.26.2011 /// 5:33pm

    oh i’m so glad this helped you today! as you can see from these amazing comments, you are definitely not alone! good luck, and keep moving forward!

  54. Art Hound /// 09.08.2011 /// 2:10pm

    [...] Danielle Krysa aka The Jealous Curator. After posting about the emotional roller-coaster of being an artist and receiving a mountain of responses, she decided to turn the discussion into an Ace Camp [...]

  55. Pati /// 01.10.2012 /// 6:54am

    I just wanted to say I agree . Being an artist isn’t easy.
    I’ve been an artist since I was quite young. I make art that isn’t always for everyone. Sometimes it sells-sometimes not. But it’s true to who I am-My work is both personal and satirical.
    BUT I also have another job for my security(my bread and butter)
    It is humble work, keeps me in touch with the world(also keeps me in touch woith people who aren’t artists)and isn’t art related. I like the work because I can set my own hours and choose who I want to work for. In other words. It helps to keep a balance.
    I think ,sadly ,success in the art world is always framed with making money. Talent and money are 2 different items. But in Our World Money Rules(it also corrupts)as we know too well.
    Also remember-creativity is something you can use to fight stress.
    When I was going through a very traumatic time a few years back-my art really helped to diffuse all the bad stuff happening.It was a safe outlet for grief and massive change.
    Make Art and keep a balance in Life. It will help you.

  56. lama khatib daniel /// 04.22.2012 /// 3:38am

    I feel exactly like this right now!!!

    sometimes, I hate my art and I hate my self for having this talent that made me committed into it.. sometimes I think why can’t I just BE NORMAL!
    but then I tried to be normal and forget about art..the funny thing, we are doomed we can’t be normal.

    thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone :)

  57. the jealous curator /// 04.22.2012 /// 10:29am

    i’m so glad this resonated with you! so many of us feel like this (as you can tell by all of the comments!)… glad you’re feeling not quite as alone! : )

  58. Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator | Front & Main /// 09.25.2012 /// 7:29am

    [...] summer I wrote a piece that was very different than my usual posts. An artist friend of mine was struggling and felt very alone. I told her I’d write a post to [...]

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