For Tuesday, February 2, 2016:
” … I don’t know that it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either. The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality, have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them …”
Neil Gaiman – MAKE GOOD ART, 2013
How do you spell ‘success’? I think Gaiman spells it correctly. If we equate success with money only, how many of us can count ourselves there? I know I can’t.
Years ago there was a popular saying in catalogues – the ‘dinosaur’ equivalent to today’s memes on Facebook – that suggested one is successful if she plants a garden, if he makes a child smile, if we go on a picnic with friends, help someone in need or play with a dog, and many other seemingly simple, everyday opportunities. Not once did the saying mention money, or working 60+ hours a week to pay for a house we’re too burned out to enjoy with the family we never see.
Does the art you make, in whichever medium you work, excite you? Does it fulfill you? Do you look forward to jumping into it again every day? That, to me, is one definition of success.
If you’re excited, then others will be, too, and they will help spread that excitement to still others. Even if you don’t rake in the big bucks, you’ll learn new things, and you’ll find yourself fulfilled in a way that money just can’t and won’t. I admit I could use a few extra dollars each month, but I also know I can’t count myself successful if I get there by selling out myself and my art. If I’m not true to who and what I am, what’s the point?
We are artists for a reason. The world needs us. The world needs you, and it needs your excited artist self. As Neil Gaiman says, ‘Go make good art,’ whatever it looks like or smells like or feels like. As long as you’re excited about it, that’s successful to me.