Updated: Feb 9, 2021
How often do you calibrate your accomplishments through success? If you have worked in the corporate world not an hour goes by without an email that uses the word “success.” I’ve come to realize it means a lot of different things to different people. Some take pride in accolades and others consider upleveling their role as a stimulation to work harder. While this has been largely my philosophy in the past I have come to comprehend that the perceived satisfaction from those things results in least exuberance.
After a long meandering thought process I concluded that feeling good about myself is the mark of success and that just means making a decent piece of artwork. For that to happen there are a few personal yardsticks for me.
Does my work have a positive impact on others?
Can I influence the community around me positively? Is there a positive moral or ethical outcome of my artistic expression? Can I heal someone who is going through tough times? Does my work facilitate a positive memory or trigger a positive thought or action?
Does it bring contentment and personal growth?
While I strongly believe that there is a correlation between creating artwork and self-actualizing growth, I also know first hand how it has enhanced my life and the people around me. For me there is an increased sense of self-acceptance and openness. My sincere hope is that with every piece of art I can enrich people’s lives beyond the walls of my tree house studio.
Has my community widened?
There is a constant quest within me to build new connections within my communities, with artists and cultural organizations. This is essential to integrate the arts more fully to enrich not just my neighborhood but the wider audience. I am sure we have all experienced the joy of meeting like minded people at a cafe or on a flight or at a museum or an event. I need to find those that re-energize me and push me to do more.
So we talked about art and my metrics for success. Allow me to delve into the relationships that influence my work and my definition of success. Let's start with my extended family and my vibrantly chaotic childhood. Where do I begin? If my childhood experiences were a visual, then it would be a colorful wall of warm colors with many textures and hues. Below is a sketch of my grandma I did as a teenager. She was the strongest influence on me and taught me to be positive, kind, generous and funny. I grew up watching her commitment to relationships and family.
More often than not, success isn’t measured by the value of your own work, but by the value, you serve to others. I learned that early on from living in a small communal home set up with ten something uncles and aunts and their families and my cousins. It was fascinating to collaborate, negotiate, share, understand the highs and lows of each of their families with little ‘room’ for privacy. Above all, I learned from watching the hard-working parents, their struggles and reliance on the family network and community to lead their lives.
After moving to the States the most significant influence was from my cocooned family. The meaning of success evolved, it meant having freedom. Freedom to follow your nose. I needed that freedom in order to create, and that creativity in order to pay the price for freedom. For better or for worse as they say, you deal with what life gives you... on your own. There is an innate sense of liberation, because of those childhood experiences you are now seasoned to face the failures that life throws at you. My friends and family remain my biggest influence to date and they linger in every piece of work you see.
I will leave you with a lesser-known fun fact, if you like paintings/sculptures (non-abstract forms of art), chances are you have a higher chance of admiring the creator who did it than the work per se. So there is my ego boost for the week...