Artistic Success and Failure
I think it’s fair to say that our expectations (realistic or otherwise) form the basis of what we think is an artistic success or a failure. In terms of any artistic endeavour, self-expression is in itself a ‘success’ in my view. It certainly beats a lot of things that people do with their lives, for sure ! From the desire simply to create a piece of music to wanting to work with (say) Brian Eno or some other musical hero, differing aspirations determine how far an artist desires to strive toward. Of course this can lead to ‘failure’ on these terms and disappointment is certainly possible with lofty aspirations.
Failure isn’t an entirely negative thing, I’ve found that there has only been a very small number of projects I’ve been involved in that I can’t recall learning anything useful from, even when the projects that haven’t met my expectations, I could take some ‘positives’ from them. I have an electronica side-project called ‘Formbank’, in terms of lack of airplay, reviews and sales it is something of a failure, but I use a completely different approach for that project than my Igneous Flame work and it actually helps that side of things a lot in terms of composition and structuring a track.
On the other hand, I feel there can be a danger of classifying every artistic venture as a ‘success’. Without the analysis and self critique to see that some projects didn’t really work, there’s no incentive to try to improve future work. Being self-satisfied with one’s work is a tricky one – I veer to the side of self-criticism as opposed to self-satisfaction. I’m not wild about hearing other artists avidly praising their efforts, for sure trying one’s best is a requisite, but the work should stand up on its own irregardless of promotional wordings. On that subject, ‘Press releases’ – now there’s another (future) topic ! I’m reasonably happy with the way my ambient music project has gone and I love the fact that people are listening to it and it is resonating with them, but I want to do more – create better work, that more people listen to.
Lastly, someone asked me what I wanted to do when I was young and I said I’d like to make strange sounds all day, so in that sense, I’ve achieved success !
So, Is this a deeply oppressive gloom or a subtly beautiful skyscape ?