As artists, many of us have an inherent fear of failure.
It stalks our creative processes, whispering in our ears that we will never create our masterpieces or even top the last work we produced.
And so when faced with a creative failure, we berate ourselves and fall into dark depths of despair or tear our work (manually or digitally) into shreds, never to see the light of day.
So seduced by the myth of creative giants and genius, we shame ourselves wondering why we were unable to summon our muse and bring the desperately desired creation to its fullest life.
But prior to the myth and mystique of the creative genius, cultivated in the Renaissance, the artist was simply considered an artisan who trained for many years in his apprenticeship and learning from myriad failures under the tutelage of the masters. (The Art History nerd in me wants you to know that the idea of the lone creative genius was created by a man named Giorgio Vasari in a book he published in the 16th century.)
Even in the Renaissance, many artists were only able to create their works with the assistance of many artisans within their workshops. We may have romanticized notions of Michelangelo slaving away to carve his David, when in reality it was the work of many talented artisans who toiled - and probably failed along the way - to bring the idea to life.
So what does this mean for you, as a lone artist?
Well, it doesn’t mean that you need to go out and get a workshop of artisans together to bring your creative vision to life. Most of us can’t afford that. But imagine, if you will, being the head of a workshop of artists ready to bring a vision to life. A process of creating a piece would likely allow room for trial and error as the envisioned artwork emerged.
So why, as a lone artist, do we not give ourselves that same latitude?
I suggest, in fact, that we should.
Not every piece of ours will be a masterpiece. But every piece can be a learning experience in our process. So this week I wanted to share with you a piece that I created that I was really happy with, and the piece that I was unhappy with that inspired it!
Not every photograph of mine is even a success - much less a masterpiece. While I try to share most of them and acknowledge the learning process along the way, some images will never see the light of day. Those too have their place in my learning process.
And so in this video I take you through the learning process that my failure was able to take me through, and how it inspired a photograph that I felt much happier with!
By using some of these self critique techniques the next time you feel faced with an artistic failure, you will be able to find the small successes within those pieces while setting yourself up for a stronger piece the next time around.
While enrollment in my course The Artist's Guide to the Personal Project is currently closed, I hope that this video still inspires you to look at your creative failures in a different light. Instead of failures, think of them as stepping stones that get you closer to your eventual goal.
And if you’re interested to know when my next section of The Artist's Guide to the Personal Project opens up, feel free to sign up to the the first to know below: