Boo! Failure is Scaaaarrrrrryyyyy!

In a series on Good Ideas, Our Flirtations with Them, and Our Commitments to Them.

Well Happy Halloween to you!  Today, our discussion is a bit dark and rather scary.  I want to talk about failure, because it has a very important place in a series on Good Ideas.  The creative life simply does not progress without failure.

dealing with failure as an artist

The Raven, mixed media by Mari Lowery, available on Etsy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know this from experience!  When I was an art student, I took my first pottery class.  How exciting!  How wonderful to put hands in clay, and mold it on the spinning wheel into a sleek, organic, functional vessel!  I could totally rock my neuvo-hippie chick thing, sell some pottery at a festival or two, and have lots of Christmas gifts on hand for everyone!

Except that when I sat down at the wheel and hit the pedal, goopy wet clay spat in vicious circles and hit me in the face, covered the wall, and coated the other zen-clay students.  I was humiliated and so disappointed.

After that, the only time I’d return to the studio was late, late at night when few other students were working. I guess my hope was to work out all the kinks and appear one day in my day class as if nothing had happened, and as if I had all my “slip” together. 🙂  I progressed very slowly, as there were no teachers and not many experienced students in the lab at that time of night!

failure and creativity

Me - circa a long time ago

That was a long time ago, and I’ve learned some very valuable lessons since – primarily about grace and the freedom to be a fool and to fail. Here’s what I want to share today:  Not failing (and not failing publicly) will prevent you from succeeding.

  • Failing publicly means you tried to add value in a way that would impact other people.
  • Failing again means you tried again.
  • Making a variety of mistakes means that you are experimenting with a variety of “what if’s” and “maybe’s” and “hopefully’s”
  • Failing publicly means that you are in a position to be noticed (oh no!) and get some help, tweaking, direction…
I believe that purposing to add value, trying again, experimenting, and seeking critique as well as support, will lead to successes.  Purposing to achieve perfection the first time, and to make sure that everyone thinks well of you all the time will – ironically –  lead to defeat.
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artists and failure

Finally... a teapot!

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  • If you’ve ever felt paralyzed by creative failure, what got you going again?
  • What kinds of things have you learned from failure?
  • Do you put yourself in positions where you can fail publicly? If not, what can you do to be more vulnerable?
  • What advice would you give a friend who is stuck in failure?
Alright, talk to you later creative friends!  I hope I didn’t scare you too much today. 🙂  See you soon. 🙂
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MEET THE ARTIST
Mari Lowery is a former dog walker and a Brooklyn photographer and mixed media artist. Find more of her frightening creations at her Etsy shop.
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Fellow Creatives: How Do You Choose a Good Idea?

Juggling too many things

This is Not Chaos, *Lisa Telling Kattenbraker - available on Etsy

After learning about my frequent flirtations with Good Ideas, many readers responded that they, too, find themselves in creative overload. They are either overcommitted and overwhelmed, or just fruitlessly moving from one idea to the next.

  • To what extent is an abundance of good ideas paralyzing to you?
  • How do you weed through all the wonderful ideas, schemes, projects and plans that come your way?
  • Do you have people in your life (possibly of a different temperamental disposition) who help to constrain and focus you?  How does this work, and how do you respond?
  • Do you have priorities that guide what you do?  If so, what are they?

Short of starting a support group, let’s come together and share what works (and doesn’t work) for us as we strive to be makers and creators.

Join the Conversation!

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MEET THE ARTIST

*Lisa Telling Kattenbraker is a batik artist. She works on cotton fabric, using traditional methods and tools, combined with experimental approaches to create vibrant, contemporary american batik. She lives in Washington State with her artist husband, children, chickens, cat and puppy.

She says of her work, “The process of batik is, in many ways, a contrast to my daily life. It’s slow going, it’s meditative. I’m drawn to that process part of it…the journey.”

A Good Idea is (Not) Hard to Find – Part 2: The Honeymoon is Over

So yes, I fall fast and hard for good ideas, and can be rather obsessive about them… lots of daydreaming and the like.  The trouble is, once it seems like I’m moving toward something a bit more long term, a bit like commitment, trouble sets in.

For instance:

Me, to Idea #1:  “You know, we’ve been spending an awful lot of time together lately. Frankly, it’s a bit tedious.  I feel like all we do is research tax codes and profit margins and try to make websites.  We used to have fun!”

To Idea #2:  “I had another idea last night, and as much as I like you, I’m just really feeling like it might be “the one”.  You know?  I’m not sure why I ever thought we were a good match anyways…”

I guess this is the stage at which I’ve gotten close enough to see the dark side…

  • My ideas usually require a lot more work and time than I imagined they would.
  • Often, I must do cumbersome behind the scenes tasks before I get to the fun stuff.
  • Sometimes, my ideas just seem stupid the next day.
  • Sometimes, I am too full of self doubt to see how any of it could work out.
So, if I’m not to be the kind of girl who just hops from one good idea to the next, what am I to do?
Next time, read + comment on “I Learn to Commit” – an open forum for creatives to share what is working, and not working for them!

A Good Idea is (Not) Hard to Find – Part 1: Flirting


Good ideas for the creative process

"She Was a Terrible Flirt", Amy Abshier-Reyes*, available on Etsy

I am a flirt.

Well, I was a flirt in my mix and mingle single days, before I met someone who grabbed my attention and has kept it for a long time.  So, no, I don’t bat my eyelashes or stand “a little too close” when I meet new, interesting men.

These days, I save the eyelash-batting for ideas.  I fall in love with them regularly, and I fall hard.

Idea #1.  I’m going to travel to Africa and import textiles that I design along with traditional artisans.  I’ll host trunk shows, run a website, and maybe open some small boutiques.

Idea #2.  I’m going to write a blog in which I interview artists and other creatives.  I will study Terry Gross and Ira Glass and Andy Rooney.  I will be known for both my compassion and direct hits.

Idea #3.  I will open a pie shop with my mother as baker-in-chief.  We will introduce her amazing baking skills to the wider world.

Idea #4.  I will have another baby to keep my (suprise) 5th baby company.

Idea #5.  I will eat only foods that are close to the earth.  All the time.  And I will walk everywhere I go. And everywhere I walk, I will be stylishly, yet naturally styled.  Yes, I will have a style, and people will like it.  Maybe I’ll also design clothes for women with my body type… with the textiles that I import…

the creative process and good ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It happens every time.

I meet a good idea, or catch a glimpse of one across the room, and my heart starts to beat a little faster. My eyes sparkle. I get a little sweaty. You wouldn’t believe how good these ideas are when I first think of them.

I lie awake at night imagining our lives together in ten years.  Everything is in technicolor. I’m always so happy during this phase of our relationship… a little high, even.  I get more done around the house, I’m nicer to my family, I call a whole bunch of people to talk.  It feels GOOD to be that close to a good idea.

As I’ve gotten older, it’s come to my attention that I need to commit to some of these ideas. This is where the trouble starts.

Next time, read, “The Honeymoon is Over“.  

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MEET THE ARTIST

*Amy Abshier-Reyes was raised on the Texas Gulf Coast, in a small farming and ranching community. She graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and has shown paintings in galleries all over the country, as well as providing illustrations for books and magazines internationally.

She’s happily married to a sweet guy that builds motorcycles and plays guitar, and has two awesome little kids, a cranky old cat, and a huge record collection.