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On Defining Success

May 26, 2013

blue construct

I’m often drawn to the word success because it is so frequently banded about, but it is such a subjective  time sensitive, socio-political and geographically variable concept. It also has  insular definitions such as in the art world where artists are defined by their success through various means such as in the market place, through critical acclaim and through rising to the upper reaches of the hierarchical structure.

But where does that leave individuals who like me dedicate their life to working as independent artists on the periphery of society, neither drawn to notoriety or money and what is their benchmark of success. In my own case I feel success is defined through integrity, truth, freedom of expression and a deep understanding of self and creativity and in fact flies in the face of ego and greed. Which is fine on an individual basis where self-worth and esteem depend on feeling a modicum of success but on a wider level we are often judged as being the opposite, to put it bluntly losers because we have limited financial means and are just dismissed as another arty farty John Doe.

Conversely an artist considered to be a great success is held in high esteem because of their social status, the art market is also dependent upon their continued success and their work rests upon great reputation regardless of quality and the status quo is maintained. In fact polite society is nourished through a mediocre acceptance of art that is spoon fed through this system, where an agenda is set and all the criteria is met to preserve the hierarchical order. Money talks in this world and it builds reputations and sets agendas, after all capitalism is by no means a fair and righteous system, it makes little room for contrary opinions.

I grew up engrained into this system where I felt I knew the measure of success and it was only recently when I explored my motivations that I realised I had been swept off course in search of what I now feel is the wrong type of success, where I looked to please and impress others instead of following my creative truth. I think it came about  through deconstructing my own work and finding the ability to make and show ugly and defiant work without fear of judgment because I no longer wanted to occupy a position where I was only able to show my refined pieces. I wanted my work to reflect my reality and the only way I could achieve this was by showing it independently in the virtual world and this experience has brought me what I feel is an abundance of success. Because I feel pretty good about myself again, I have a meaning and purpose to my life I’m not afraid to stand behind my work and take criticism because I truly believe in what I do. And I still like to make beautiful things too because life is a mixed bag but essentially just a totally beautiful experience with the odd shitty bit here and there. If I had to describe myself  in the context of being just another capitalist minion it would be as a pretty successful loser. 😉

Blue Fade

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