Failure and Success.

I would like to dedicate this blog post to all of my creative friends who are out there giving it a go.

Lately it has been as though the universe has been trying to teach me a thing or two about failure. I for one don't truly embrace failure. I understand the theory. In fact I understand more than the theory. Working as in instructor in outdoor experiential education I was taught a lot about learning through doing and the importance of learning from our failures.

What was it that Theodore Roosevelt once said?... "It's hard to fail but worse to have never tried to succeed"

Yeah yeah. I get it... yet here I find myself wanting to hide my failures as an artist. It's true.

Surely I should know better? After all is it not my failures that make me successful?

As an artist, or as a human even, it can be so disheartening to pour hours of your time, energy and soul into a project only to have it not work out as planned. Where does one find the motivation to keep trying when there is an ego that needs soothing and bills that need paying. What's the point? Why bother? Surely it would be easier to tread down another path where the work hours are set and you get a regular pay that relates to the hours and effort invested?

Why am I even doing this? Why am I putting myself through this struggle? I want to be able to go on holidays and buy a house and invest my money in the things I believe in. (*rant rant then thought pop up*);

Oh that's right. I am investing my money in something I believe in: MYSELF. My dream. My desire to create beauty and inspire awe. Here and now.

Of course there are numerous other causes I would like to donate to such as education in impoverished areas, protection of natural ecosystems, ending world famine etc. And that will happen in the future. But, at the moment, I owe it to myself to invest this time, energy and yes money on my own vision.

And you do too! In fact not only do we owe it to ourselves but we owe it to each other, our community and the world to share our unique voice. (now I'm really getting passionate and emotional here).

Why? Because "art changes lives" and art is important. I need to keep pursuing my career as an artist (despite and because of the failures) because my creativity is my gift to the world (why does it feel so uncomfortable to say that?). And through my creative works I have a voice that is louder, stronger and able to reach a broader audience than it would be without my art.

Everything I have done has lead me to this point and that includes my failures. So why do I feel so ashamed of them? Why do I hide them away from public view and instead only share my successes here and on my social media channels?

"We’re conditioned by society to fear failure. Somehow we’ve started to believe that “people who fail once will always fail.” And it’s that kind of false thinking that stunts creative careers before they even start..."

-Mike Roy

What would I say to one of my friends if they were to receive yet another letter stating that their proposal/application has been "unsuccessful at this time"...? a number of positive things I can assure you!

So why is it that I lack that same empathy for myself?

Here's the answer: I fear judgement of my work, and my choices because I fear judgment of me as a person.

I have it in my mind that in order to be taken seriously as a successful artist I need to convey myself as a "successful artist"; especially through social media and on my website. But what exactly is a successful artist anyway?

On reflection, when I think about it the people who I respect and admire I have to admit that they are people who have succeeded despite (and because of) their failures. And I'm not just talking about artists by the way.

"Think about it. The best stories involve conflict, some kind of struggle, some hero with incredible odds stacked against him, right? Someone who keeps getting knocked down but keeps getting up." - Matt Appling

So here goes. I would like to proudly share with you that:

- Out of the six exhibitions/residencies I have applied for this year I have only been accepted in to one.

- I am surrounded by numerous projects that I'm not happy with.

- Today I feel unmotivated and unimpressed with my efforts in general.

- Essentially all I have managed to achieve today is this blog post and there's no guarantee that anyone will even have read it this far

...despite all of this I am going to get out of bed tomorrow morning and keep giving it a go. One step at a time; because I believe in my vision and I believe in myself.

..."For artists on the road to success, failure is just a tool, like a paintbrush, that you get to use every day. And just like your other tools, you MUST learn to use it effectively and become familiar with its little quirks." - Mike Roy

Yes! Bring it on!!!


Article: "A Letter to Artists: How to Use Failure as a Creative Tool" @ by Mike Roy, Founder of Artist Myth

Article: "Art & Failure: Why the Two Go Together" @ by Matt Appling, Author of Life After Art


  • Facebook - Grey Circle
  • Instagram - Grey Circle
  • LinkedIn - Grey Circle

© 2019 Tanya da Silva

*all designs, images + text subject to copyright