Everyone has a story. The story can either be one of immense struggle that eventually yields great rewards, or an uneventful story of safe, well calculated mediocrity. But to me, the saddest story is the unmemorable life full of excuses and failure – it often reaps misery, bitterness and contempt. We’ve all known these sorts of individuals – the perpetual victims who seem to have a myriad of reasons for their utter failure. They blame everyone except himself or herself and eventually, come to believe that everyone around them has sabotaged their life and caused their misery. They’re unpleasant to be around and literally feel like a black cloud of misery.
I am forever drawn to the individual that produces amazing things out of absolutely nothing. It’s wonderful to come into this life with no worries and plenty of money and benefactors but there is something miraculous about the individual who turns no way into a way. They have a beautiful and inspiring passion and they understand that the biggest obstacle is themselves. I love these sorts of people – I chose to surround myself with plenty of them because their optimism is contagious. They refuse to be held back or wallow in plentiful excuses or self-inflicted misery. They understand that disadvantages can be our greatest advantages, but only if you choose to see it that way. We all have something to be thankful for and that gratitude can be the foundation for the brilliant life you want to build, but it's up to you. If you're struggling, saying "I want to sell my art," but you're not doing well at it you have to ask why. Looking at the sum of the life you're living today and the perspective you have on it, the question you have to ask yourself is - what are the unhealthy excuses you’re clinging to?
Hunger is a good thing. If you're currently the person who has their back against the wall and you have nothing left you have two choices - to either cry about it or fight your way back. Fighting is instinctual. In desperate situations most of us will summon the courage to fight no matter how weak or beaten down. And from experience, it’s at that moment we find out how special and strong we really are. But sadly, there is always a hefty percentage that chooses to give up and cave into the pressure. In order to insulate and protect themselves from scrutiny, they design their perfect failure story to tell everyone in order to avert blame. Nothing pisses me off more than to hear an able-bodied person tell me "they cant".
There is no better time in history than now to be an artist. Opportunities to learn, to market, to sell, to network are right at your fingertips. You can either take advantage of these wonderful resources or waste it playing video games, partying with your friends or sitting in front of the TV concocting elaborate stories why you can’t be the best version of yourself. OR, you can use that time to get off your ass and do something with your life. It's simply your choice. You must remember, there's always someone hungrier out there and that someone may be far worse off than you. But while you’re wasting your time, talent and advantages, they’re rising above their limitations and taking your spot in the limelight. It’s either kill or be killed.
I've been working as a professional artist for 22 years and during the last 12 years I've been teaching oil painting and offering artists career counseling. During this time, I've worked with some very talented artists that lost their way, young artists just starting out, and artists that gave up years ago and are hoping to restart their careers. I applaud each and every one of them for having the courage to reach out and make an investment in their careers and their lives. I want to help the artist to help themselves when they come to me and say "I want to sell my art." No one knows better than you how to sell yourself. I love to bring out the true potential you have inside of you. And every time I help a young artist get into a good art program or help repair the relationship between an artist and their career, I feel incredible and exhilarated. It transcends money and time.
But then there’s the opposite person. You know, the kind of person that "can't" do something because everything is done. Everyone is making it but me. Why bother? Blah, Blah, Blah… Over the years, I’ve had struggling artists offer to help me for free in exchange for lessons and advice. Most times, they never show up or when they come they put in a weak effort and I never hear from them again. They are more invested in their failure story than trying to do better. And I’m always surprised and somewhat strangely appalled at the amount of people who seem to think I was just lucky – those mean-spirited emails are the most amusing. They believe I was given loads of opportunities and grew up with unlimited wealth, status and a strong artist lineage. And honestly, at times, I wish that were the case. But, that story was reserved for other artists and unfortunately I can’t claim it. I’ve said it before, I came from nothing and had to fight for every achievement and dime I have. And I’m still fighting because I know I deserve even more. And I'm not going to candy coat it and say that if you just try you'll make it. It takes hard work and commitment every day. You have to formulate good habits and see them through. And on the way, you will experience failure and it will be discouraging but if you continue on the journey you will realize that failure is only a lesson not an end. When people fear failure so much that they insulate their lives against it, they never achieve anything.
Check out this inspiring video from Nick Vujicic. This young man has conquered dreams you and I could only dream of and without any of the advantages we take for granted.
When you begin to doubt yourself or believe your disadvantages out way your advantages, remember this, we are the masters of our lives. We can either accept the challenges or give into the fear. And truthfully, most of us never practice an ounce of gratitude for what we take for granted – working limbs or eyesight. We rather believe our circumstances are the worst but look at the great artists before you that never gave up – Stevie Wonder, Chuck Close, Ray Charles, Ludwig Von Beethoven. These individuals never allowed real challenges to interfere with their dreams and goals. In comparison, how large and significant are your challenges? It’s all about perspective. And once you find your purpose and realize how much you have to offer the world, your life will begin to improve and magic will happen. That is what I can guarantee.