What I Learnt From My Art Sale Failure

Last week, I tried to sell my art, and I failed.

This failure in particular stung, because deep down it reminded me of when I was 8 and told: “Artist don’t make money. You should do something else instead.”

Over the past 1.5 weeks, I felt that they were right.

I found myself second-guessing everything – who I am, what I’m doing here… My life is going nowhere… Should I try again or forget about it?

I tried thinking of other ways to run my business, other products I can offer… then I realized I’ve been so focused on how to make money, rather than meaning.

In this world, money has become one major means of validating our work and measuring our worth. And unconsciously I had made money a primary indicator of my “success” as an artist.

No art sales = my work has no value = I have no value.

At the same time, whenever I take on something I don’t truly care about just to earn money, the daily process of doing such work has always left me feeling empty, hollow and dead inside.

I want to make meaning with my life… my way. I’ve always been like this.

Success for me is about creating something truly meaningful, and that means spending my days immersed in what I love and what makes me come alive.

Making art is love and life for me. Singing is love and life for me.

Sharing my learnings and experiences on my journey is love and life for me.

And impacting people’s lives through the work I do is love and life for me.

If there’s one thing I learnt from my art sale attempt, it’s that I don’t want to spend my days waiting and talking about my art and how it helps you create an inspiring space in your home. LOL I’m a nomad at heart, and a minimalist, and if I myself am not even aligned to using art to decorate my own space (I rather make the art than be decorating), writing and talking about such things simply isn’t love and life for me.

And if there’s one impact I hope my actions would make in the world, I’d like every single person to take action on their dreams, and make meaning in their lives. And I’m not sure selling you my art will really help with that.

So I don’t know yet exactly how I will do this, but I know that somehow on this scenic route (i.e. my journey so far), I’ve taken up enough seemingly random things that I find meaningful (e.g. training to be a life coach, a vocal coach, leadership training, management training, etc.), that I’ll make something of meaning with these soon.

What’s one way you make meaning in your life?

Share in the comments below.

4 Comments

  1. Kai

    As a person knocking on many doors and facing rejection everyday, this is my 2 cents to add.

    Art is art and business is business.

    Art is a niche expression and business is fulfilling the niche need.

    You just have not found your right audience. There is someone out there that appreciates your art and will pay for it.

    You just need to find that someone, it takes a lot of audience building and expanding your network.

    Jia you!

    1. MaryAnn

      Hi Kai, thanks for sharing! I do agree with what you’re saying, that it’s about finding the right audience. What I meant to share in the post is that since I’m spending time gathering an audience anyway, I realized from doing the art sale that I feel more fulfilled being able to help an audience who wants to take action on their dreams, than one who buys art for their home. Both ways I need to do a lot of audience building, it’s more like which audience do I really truly want to serve.

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