A good friend of mine (let’s just call him/her “A Voice” – because I do listen) commented on last week’s post. And, after contemplating a reply, I decided that “Success” is an important subject to introduce this week, because it is so ambiguously perceived, purely  subjective, and unfortunately… a taboo topic among artists that (in my opinion) needs to be discussed more frequently.  Therefore, I want to open this dialogue here, in this blog, so that the conversation exists for anyone daring enough to prosper on their own terms.

A Voice told me, after reading The Entrance Door, “I think you’re missing the point dear friend; because, in our eyes, you’ve already made it”.

First of all… Thank you. And I assure you, I understand.

I recognize that the privilege of pursuing my passion full-time is a significant accomplishment in and of itself. I am fortunate to have been endowed with the requisite tools, the ambition, and the safety net of a supportive family, which enables me to assume the occasional risk without plummeting into destitution. I am grateful for the opportunities afforded me. And I am grateful for the position I have persisted in occupying. But I also believe that where there is privilege, there is responsibility; not only to exceed the stigma of  “starving” (as an artist), but also, to transcend the Self  in such a manner that enables others to aspire for something more than what circumstance provides.

I do feel that I have achieved a certain measure of success. But that doesn’t mean that I should cease to evolve (artistically, personally, etc.) or to strive towards a more secure tomorrow. I am still in the lean years of my career, where every success story only begins, not ends, and it is a roller-coaster at best. So I would Love to have the luxury of a more comfortable studio. I would Love to have the luxury of representation, which would alleviate some of the behind-the-scenes workload. And I would Love the luxury of regular patrons who collect my work. All these modest luxuries are but milestones that help sustain an artist’s career and I am only knocking on those doors now. So I still have a lot of work ahead of me. But rest assured, that I remember where I came from and who I am (without accumulated things).

As for any insights…

Perhaps the most important is that success is a discipline, not a formula. And it is not limited to commercial artists or to those who subscribe to convention alone. Success only requires that we simply know our own strengths and weaknesses (at all times), know the market we’re entering (which compares the reality of our current market to the reality of what we hope to achieve), and know what we are willing to invest (personally) to reach our goals.

Having said that, there are a lot of misconceptions about what “Success” says about an artist’s integrity. But I truly feel that if you have integrity at all, then, “Success” only means that you were courageous enough to become the best version of yourself (integrity intact). It saddens me that so many artists glamorize “starving” as if it were an ideal. There is nothing glamorous about it. And starving is not an ideal, but a right of passage that only means something when it serves more than yourself.