Is any artist ever fully satisfied with their work?
Hi, my name is Carrie Brummer and here on Artist Strong I help creatives like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today I want to talk about the satisfaction (or lack there of) that we can feel from our art.
Someone asked this in our community quite a while ago now, thanks Jackie! And I love this question. It touches upon so much of the mindset that ultimately holds us back or helps us move forward with our art.
What does it mean to be fully satisfied with one’s work? Defining this will be so important to actually understanding your art interest.
Does “fully satisfied” mean: like every artwork you make?
Does “fully satisfied” mean: enjoy every part of making art?
Does “fully satisfied” mean: like the ideas behind the work?
This phrase can be a LOT of things to different people.
Charmaine B. replied, “Yes, not every piece, but sometimes there is a piece of work that not only are you satisfied, but PROUD.”
Satisfied here even suggests a caveat, that perhaps we aren’t fully happy but we think it’s “enough.”
I personally resonate with Janice M.’s response: “It is in the process that I find happiness and satisfaction. The end result is usually kind of irrelevant to the process.”
Defining “fully satisfied with your work” will mean different things to different people, and you won’t even know the answer or be able to reach towards this goal if you don’t know what it looks like for you.
Secondly, this question concerns me, because it can be interpreted as a focus on production. And when we focus on production, a lot of people feel even more need to justify their interest to create. They can’t invest in supplies or spend time making unless they are doing something “worth their time.”
The irony of this is investing in supplies and making time for our art could be the two very ingredients we need to feel satisfied with our work. This perpetuates an internal battle many in this community face of whether we should bother making art at all.
If we look at art history, we have countless artists who were dissatisfied with their art… in the Renaissance consider Michelangelo and da Vinci. During the expressionist movement we need look no further than van Gogh.
I hope we can begin to normalize the very real fact that it’s unlikely we will enjoy or like every mark we put to a surface and begin to see all of this is part of our larger creative process, which means it’s a regular part of creativity.
Being fully satisfied with one’s work then means to embrace and celebrate the work we don’t like because it’s a means to finding the work we do like.
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Every piece is an experiment for me. I am not entirely sure how the pieces will turn out, and they will look different after they are dry than they do when I put them aside to get dry. Since everything is an experiment, and I don’t believe you can have a failed experiment, I am satisfied with every one of them. Do I expect to sell everything? No, but I keep track of bits that work so I can add them into a later piece that might be more effective. I think of my practice as “Colonel Wolf’s Experimental Kitchen.”
I love it!