I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed.
- Peter Lefleur.
Taking the advice of a fictional character whose main feature was the inability to run a profitable business is questionable, but the point stands.
I've been feeling a bit apathetic toward some art, illustration and freelance. When the point was to enjoy the process of creation and maybe get a few virtual high-fives from friends, it was easy to succeed. One simply spends endless hours making art, design and illustrations without questioning the value or validity of such a practice and, whatever the result, you've won. You'll get the occasional bonus of a commission or sale, but you've already succeeded without that.
When you turn your attention more toward the business side, it becomes easy to fail. All of the sudden that drawing you thought would sell starts looking a bit lackluster as it sits on the shelf without any orders, that painting you thought was meaningful seems a bit more self-indulgent, and that ever-growing pile of art (aka inventory or storage) becomes less promising and more evocative of a delusional hoarding situation than a valuable asset worth keeping.
On one hand, I know I can't stop making art...on the other I question the ultimate value if the eventuality is it sitting in a storage unit for eternity. I've always felt that art is a somewhat self-indulgent practice. You have to believe you have something valuable to put on canvas, otherwise why would you take the time, why would you think anyone would want it, and why would anyone want it if not? But when faced with realities that counter that belief, do you persevere or take heed? Do you ignore superficial goals and acknowledge there's a deeper value or do you address the failure head-on and make changes accordingly? And what would those changes even be?
If my passion was making concrete monoliths and had a backyard full of them, would it be advisable to continue using resources and space for objects that have no inherent value? If my passion was playing poker and I never won, would I keep entering tournaments? When it comes to the creative side of things, there's a value to the maker that is hard if not impossible to quantify, but does that value outweigh the perceived lack of value the rest of the world seems to give it? Should that matter?
Like I said, I know I won't stop making art...but I also don't want to ignore reality when it comes to measurable real-world goals. I suppose, whatever the answer, I'm just not entirely sure where addressing those realities leads and if that, in some ways, negates the other kinds of success one might achieve.
Oh the joys of being an artist...on to the next painting.