Last week I posted one of my most popular blog posts ever, called Successful Artists and Their Critics, Trolls and Doubters. When I was preparing the post, asking artists to tell me their stories, one of the people I queried was Scott Brundage. He didn't have an anecdote for my blog post, but he did have some very wise words that I thought were worth sharing:
For whatever reason, I can’t really recall a negative or mean portfolio review or direct comment on my work. That’s not to say people have loved me forever, I just think that by whatever twist of fate, by the time I was trying to show my work professionally, instead of telling me I was bad, I’d get, essentially, silence.
For instance, I applied to the SVA grad program right out of school and was rejected. Or I’d show my book to a prospective client, and get a “thank you” then never hear from them again. Same with 99% of emails, the bulk of my postcard mailings, attempts at online social media engagement, ignored submissions to competitions, etc. I wonder if I would have preferred a straight up negative review or online troll, then at least I’d have a villain to try to get past. Instead, for years, I felt like I was toiling for work no one cared about or wanted to see. And, with that comes a boatload of self doubt and discouragement. When you question your finances every month for years on end, you start to question your life choices.
I just decided that I’d have to make work no one could ignore. I’d have to make work that, no matter what, I was proud to see leave the studio. That shift came in the form of spending a whole lot more time on work, producing a lot more of it, and always forcing myself to start something new. I changed my goal from simply trying to do a successful illustration to attempting something so ambitious that I wasn’t sure if i could pull it off. I’d heard successful artists talk about the idea of either having a glorious success or a glorious failure and I forced myself to adopt that mindset.