Blog / 2017 / Most People Don’t Want You to Fail in Your Art Career.

July 27, 2017

I haven’t done an official survey, but I’m pretty sure that I’m right on this: most people don’t want you to fail.

In part, this is because you’re not generally on people’s minds at all. Most of us tend to think about ourselves most of the time, so the idea that someone is going to focus on you enough to hope or hex for your downfall is unlikely. But at least a little of the “people not wanting you fail” thing has to do with the fact that many of us would rather see you succeed. I know I would.

When I encounter another artist who appears to be doing well these days, I am thrilled for them. This wasn’t always the case. Early on in my career, when my lack of a track record made me too anxious to see beyond my next résumé-building project, other people’s success didn’t make me happy the way it does today. Still, my jealousy never crossed over into jumping up and down gleefully when someone else was clearly struggling.

And as my career gained momentum—as I consciously worked at being more generous with others as well as myself—I got to the happy place. I could see that my success was tied to the success of other artists and of everyone around me.

We don’t exist in a vacuum. The winner cannot take all. Our fair share only increases when we work for a world where everybody gets to participate in the abundance. It’s why I started this blog, why I began talking about making money as an artist whenever anyone would listen.

a diptych of violet-crowned woodnyphs facing off
Gwenn Seemel
Encounter (Violet-crowned Woodnymphs)
2017
acrylic on panel
7 x 10 inches (combined dimensions)
(Originals $600 each or $1000 for both, and prints and things are in my Redbubble shop.)

Recently, someone new started supporting my art on Patreon, pledging to give me $2 a month. I sent them a personal thank-you, and they responded by dismissing their gift as “not much.”

Except it is.

In a world where most people don’t want you to fail and many would rather see you succeed, only some will pledge money to support your work every month, or buy prints of your art, or comment publicly on your stuff and share your work on social media. It doesn’t mean that the other people don’t care about you—maybe they’re supporting you in other ways and you just don’t know it. But the ones who believe in you and make sure you are aware of their support are truly wonderful. They are a big part of why any artist makes art.

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