Finding Success


Now that “
THE PANDEMIC IS OVER,” it seems like things are going faster than ever. Every band is touring (and bailing on tours), all kinds of shows are selling out, flights are unpredictable, and prices are out of control. Another new normal? Regardless of where you are in your life, we all have at least one commonality: we’re a couple years older than when this thing first began. One thing that always comes with getting older is the confrontation of time passing and an excuse for reflection. Though this is sounding like blog posts of the past, this post I’m thinking about measuring success, not just thinking about maintaining creativity. Our expectations and goals can change as we’re faced with harsh realities or surprising accomplishments, so what’s feeding our current state of creative fulfillment?

In previous blog posts I dug into the importance of creative role models or artistic support, along with fitting in as a creative into this new era of society. In that vein, something that is a little more murky is how our successes, or the successes of others, impact our creative goals and motivations. In this day and age, everything is so public. Sometimes this is a good thing as we can all learn from one another, but equally this is something that can get overwhelming. Along with all the “life hacks” on social media, there’s folks giving advice, showing off cool opportunities, or sadly just disappearing and disbanding. When I think about my creative future I often ask myself, what should I be doing?

Now, the word “should” alone is a good word to use if you want to stress out about something, but generally speaking that question is answered with another question: what do you want to be doing? Those first 2 questions are often the first pushes to my snowball of thoughts, but I quickly realize that I am doing what I want for the most part. I think a lot of us artists are doing what we want as long as we’re staying creative. However, I think a large part of us can find dissatisfaction at the level of which we are artists, or the frequency of our creative time. From the biggest of artists to us at the DIY level, it seems that we are all figuring out the costs of keeping a creative lifestyle.

In America, success, cost, and worth are all quantified with dollar value. Maybe that’s how it is on all of Earth, but when it comes to creatives–or making art, these kinds of successes get complicated. How do we value art? If someone buys a painting for $1,000, does that define what the piece is worth? Does the artist need to keep producing to sustain themselves that way? Or if they produce less does it make the pieces more valuable? Or will that make the pieces lesser known, so less valuable? There seems to be somewhat of a spectrum between artists “selling out” and working for “exposure.” The new metrics for successful artists are followers, likes, and any other internet analytics. Figuring out how to convert that into dollar value seems to be the new way of making a living as an artist.

I used to think the goal for me was to make my own hamster wheel of creative production. To have all creative outlets collectively sustain a living to avoid having a committed full time job. Achieving that goal was the ultimate success. As I adapt to the changing world and observe other creatives, making that goal a reality seems to come with some caveats and an ever-changing ladder to climb. The end result tends to look different every day. At times I pull myself in different directions and get a bit overwhelmed in trying to figure out if I am on the right path. But I try to keep in mind what the great Lemmy once said, “the chase is better than the catch.”

The path to success is never clear…and it may not even be the same for all of us. In BLOG 7 I touched on why artists feel the need to create. That ability alone is a fulfillment, but it may be a human condition to want to consistently grow. We want our art to be experienced and want to connect with others, but overall we have to survive and balance all the things necessary to live. I think finding the ultimate balance is the new goal for myself. We may all have different personal lives and responsibilities, but I think we all strive for the happiness that comes with an optimal balance.

When gearing up to release or publish new creative material, I feel there are 3 concepts to keep in mind that are best to have separate distinctions and when these 3 things start blending together in thought, that’s when I feel a lot of anxiety and frustrations can occur. These 3 concepts are the achievements, goals, and expectations of our creative work. In the same context, these 3 ideas can seem interchangeable or similar when it comes to putting out art or being an artist, however we should really view these aspects differently. Though I am sharing this publicly I am very much also talking to myself here.

First off, looking at our achievements is very much a past tense thing. It’s really looking at where we came from or what we’ve already done. Perspective is very important here, especially looking at the past with a positive outlook rather than a negative. It’s very much a “glass half full” mindset in order to keep from self doubt and discouragement. Based on where we came from, next is crafting some future goals. We’re probably reaching higher than we did before with a little more wisdom and hopefulness. It’s also important to manifest where we want to see ourselves when we look at the future–again keeping that positive outlook. Lastly, the trickiest thing is managing our expectations based on the past and hopeful future. I honestly struggle with this aspect because facing certain realities can really shake (or boost) up our egos. Possibly the best idea when it comes to managing expectations is learning why we reached our goal (or not) and using that wisdom to move forward. All of these aspects are just about us reshaping what creative success is to keep us from giving up and to commit to the work.

In the PODCAST I have been talking to a lot of artists and musicians that are trying to make their own way in this new era of society. No one really knows what to do, but we are all making due with the opportunities we have and trying to survive. Even looking at the bigger artists in the music industry, nothing is really looking all that stable–financially, physically, or mentally. In fact, it looks to me like the bigger an artist is, the more obstacles and headaches they have to endure. From Ticketmaster craziness to travel costs to the immense touring time needed to make profits, there seems to be an awful lot of bullshit taking the fun out of sharing art with the world. Factor in some mental and physical health stressors and it’s no wonder that lots of bigger artists struggle to keep themselves or their families together. Folks must really have to dig down to get themselves into their happy place and keep their perspectives strong to keep from wearing out like a stripped screw head.

What we have figured out over the years and continue to be reminded of is that artists are undervalued. They are cast aside, deemed nonessential, and overlooked. For-profit entities find every way to exploit and bleed artists dry. EVEN ARTISTS THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR DECADES ARE DISRESPECTED. As creatives, we need to find the value within ourselves and with those that we share our art with in order to feel successful. With this flashy society that glorifies toxic humanity it can be very easy to lose hope. If we can come together and strengthen our artist community as well as strengthen our own personal sense of worth, we can combat the consistent negativity that society casts upon us.

I know this post went a little long, but thanks for reading and contact me below with any feedback. Sharing helps me out a lot too.
Rip on





    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.