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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