top of page

Are You Quietly Quitting Art?

🎧Before we start... did you know this post also comes as a podcast?

Ah Hem

Do you consider yourself ambitious?

I think most individuals assume ambition is either something you have or something you don't. You are either wholly ambitious or wholly... unmotivated? Slow? Stopping to smell the roses and take a photo or two?

Here's what I think. I think in order to find your ambition, you have to uncover the deeper interest and look forward from there. What I mean is, you have to be in love with what you're doing so you can cast an accurate vision towards the future. It's hard to make a 5 year plan, let alone a weekly plan, if you don't know your foundation.

But I believe everyone can be ambitious if they're grounded in the right place.

And so now that you know you are capable of tapping into ambition like you've never seen, I'm going to ask you a question:

Would you rather have a goal in mind and never quite hit it OR give up on the goal completely to avoid the failure of never achieving it?

When I heard that (yes, it was asked of me), I was stumped. What a deceptively simple question! Even if we all say we’d never give up on art... we all have those moments where we want to. Because it’s embarrassing. Or hard. Or nothing is happening and we aren’t selling or we aren’t growing. Or maybe we already did give up in a way.

This question is nowhere near as straightforward as it looks. 👀

Ambition is the key component to whether or not you'll push through or quietly quit your art. But in order to find your ambition, you have to understand your art practice; you have to understand what gets you going in the first place.

What are you currently ambitious about?

This art goal can't be all your art goals lumped into one. (Hint, it’s not full-time artistry.) Your goal needs to be tangible and have an obvious finish line. That could be anything from getting into a show or selling out a collection. Whatever you land on, you just have to be able to define it.

Being ambitious towards this goal means accepting that there are going to be moments of extreme embarrassment and vulnerability on the way to achieving it. If you want to be an artist, you’re going to have to stomach the failure with the successes. You'll have to embrace the annoyingly weird way our progress happens. And not only that, but you'll want to acknowledge each hard moment out loud.

Yes. I did launch that collection of sunsets and no one showed up for it. Yes, it was embarrassing to have 20 pieces that did not sell until heavily discounted. And even then... barely any sold.

Sharing these moments with others makes them easier to navigate. The experience creates great resiliency to the online environment (and occasional hostile pockets of social media). Being an artist is hard and this is one way to lighten the burden of doing it solo.

Making a name for yourself or taking the time to create something new is going to require a deeply rooted fire so that in the face of adversity you can achieve. You can push forward. You can announce your goals and your obstacles because you know at the end of the day it would be way worse if you were to abandon your creativity rather than see your art through.

Ambition as an artist isn’t a one size fits all, you get to tailor it to your individuality and art practice.

In the past, ambition to me was always residencies, gallery representation, 100k profit, or basically anything society or art culture considered worthwhile and prestigious. This was so difficult to navigate when I began selling because I thought my goals were just not good enough. The way these "ambitious achievements" made impressions on my belief about success as an artist... they changed how I made art, not just what I wanted to do with it. My goal of wanting to explore my creativity and see what I could do was swallowed up by the inner chants of "you won't be taken seriously if you don't have gallery representation!"

It's hard to map out your own path as an artist but it's the only way to make sure you aren't in the act of trying to ghost your practice because it makes you uncomfortable. This is your chance to be honest with yourself and define ambition. This is your chance to confront the external pressures that you are allowing to impress on you.

How are you allowing other people’s ambition change the way you see yourself and the success you are striving for?

Your art will only work when you make it work for you. You’re not a full-time artist if you’re making work you hate and selling it in a way you’re not okay with. That is abandoning the goal to avoid failure. (That's my original question again!)

Your work needs to be made, but you can’t pretend like you’re digging for your best work when you’re only moving around the surface soil. You have to go deep within to find the passion that will spark your ambition and begin to move you forward. It’s hard to not allow compromise into art and art into business and business into my art. But I’ve made major progress by slowing down, consulting myself, and giving myself the time and space I need to harness my ambition for a goal that’s purely mine and purely about my work.

What I don’t think artists at the beginning of their journey realize, is that your path becomes clear while you make the work. Your art is what opens up the opportunities. But you can’t commit to your art before it’s made... you have to commit to the process and the unfolding while you're in the midst of it.


bottom of page