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January 16, 2021 43 min
Although most of us wish for success with our work and art careers, defining what that means is tricky, changeable, and very personal. Does success mean selling your work, recognition in the art world, or simply your own satisfaction with what you create? How do our ideas of success shift over time? Can we be satisfied with our current level of success or do we always want more? Today, as we look ahead to a new year, we’ll toss around some ideas about success and what it means for working artists. The dictionary definition of success is both the accomplishment of an aim or purpose and the attainment of popularity or profit. The first is specific, the second vague and subjective. We may use this word often without really considering how difficult it is to define for our individual situation. In an art career there are no defined rungs on the ladder of success. Instead, there are many different kinds of success, and many people never really feel successful even when they do have a lot of accomplishments. We tend to constantly move our own measures of success to just out of reach, which can make us feel that we still have a long road ahead. There’s nothing wrong with having goals but it’s good to give ourselves credit for what advancements we have made. The accomplishments that don’t include outside recognition, sales, shows and other landmark moments in an art career—the inner, subjective feelings of success-- may be harder to recognize. Yet for many artists, striving for outside validation may not be truly satisfying. For them, success is felt most strongly in their own studios, or with a small circle of art friends or local exhibit opportunities. It’s important to understand your own standards and goals and accept that they may be different from ideals that originate outside yourself. Ultimately, we define success in our own ways, and if we don’t give it some thought we can easily buy into some vague standard that is not in alignment with who we are. If we don’t understand own criteria, we may feel unsuccessful, unfulfilled, and down on ourselves, as well as envious of other artists. Like so many aspects of an art practice this takes introspection and self-awareness but doing this can bring more peace of mind as we cope with the competitive aspects of the art world. Thanks to everyone who has been sharing the show and to Tara Leaver for donating via PayPal. Check out her website at She does beautiful work inspired by the sea! If you would like your own shoutout on the podcast donate here ( ​ When you buy art supplies at Blick remember to use our affiliate link to support the podcast! Bookmark this link and then you don't even have to think about it again. This is one of the best ways to support the show. It takes a few seconds and costs you nothing! ​ Cold Wax Academy (formerly Squeegee Press) would like everyone who enjoys using their special cold wax tools to know that all sizes of SP Create squeegees are back in stock! Rebecca and her partner Jerry McLaughlin are also launching their online live learning sessions as part of the new membership program, and all sessions will be recorded for future viewing by members. For more information, and to become a member of Cold Wax Academy please visit their website at and click on the Membership button. ​ Have an art related product, service, or event you would like to advertise on the Messy Studio Podcast? Email Ross at ( for current mid-roll advertising rates. ​ For more from The Messy Studio: ​ For more from Rebecca Crowell: ​ The Messy Studio Podcast is a CORE Publication MGMT production.
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