The wall analogy
Every artist on the planet finds themselves at the base of the brick wall. During your stay at the bottom of the wall, you’ll find yourself surrounded by experts. In other words, all of these so-called “experts” have never climbed the wall themselves, but they will be the first to tell you how it’s done. Others will suggest that it can’t be done. The majority are quick to inform you that you will have to wait until you die, and then your ghost will scale the wall.
Scaling the wall
Success as an artist comes to those who want it bad enough. In other words, success comes to the proactive, the hard-working and the disciplined wall climber! You’ll discover that it is quiet on the wall. When scaling the wall, we are too busy focusing on our footholds and grips to notice the *noise* below. When you start following the artist’s path, doing the work, the marketing and sales of your work, you’ll quickly realize how much the failed artists are wrong about pretty much everything.
Voices at the bottom of the wall
The wall’s base is littered with naysayers, complainers, and failed artists who love to discourage new artists from making any attempt at climbing the wall. They tell you it can’t be done. If you decide to climb the wall anyways, you get cut off; cut-off from friendships, opportunities and a sense of belonging. You’ll find yourself all alone. They will loudly criticize you as you climb the wall. They will attack you when you speak your mind or have a different opinion than they do. They will label you as having gone “commercial” or “decorative.”
Failed artists make more “noise” than work.
Same old story
When you hear an art professional’s story the first time, it’s interesting. However, if you hear the same story over and over again for twenty years, you have to ask yourself why the artist hasn’t got any new ones to tell you.
Excuses for failure
Many artists have all kinds of excuses as to why they aren’t in a gallery, or having shows or selling their work. I hear things like “I’m not ready,” “galleries f**k artists,” “I can do a better job myself,” and my all-time favourite, “the public lacks education; therefore, they can’t appreciate my work.”
As you stand at the base of the wall, you will see that failed artists seem to travel in herds. The herd of forgotten artists often has a leader who had some unverifiable success early on in their career. Their leader’s word is sacred.
I’m here to tell you that galleries aren’t all bad. As a matter of fact, every gallery owner I’ve met loves artists and the art they make. The gallery business isn’t for the faint of heart either. It’s a tough business, just like it is for the artist. Then why is it so hard to find a gallery? Gallery owners dislike the divas and primadonnas because they are hard to work with. Trust me when I say that gallery owners have seen so much bad behaviour on the part of artists that they have become a little jaded and afraid to take on someone new.
Avoid artists who whine and complain all the time. Avoid artists who make excuses for their lack of success, especially those who blame others. They will never climb the wall…
Do your work. Create a lot of work.
Climb the wall.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
~ Randy Pausch ~