Failure & Fear as an Artist

This video discusses the importance of failure, risk taking, and fear as an artist. So many of us are afraid to fail as artists, and yet failure is actually a crucial part of an artist’s development and progression.

Taking a creative risk can be intimidating, and make us fearful because of the lack of predictability, but those risks can also be tremendously important and open up creative opportunities! Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Jordan McCracken-Foster and Cat Huang.

Video Walkthrough

  • Taking a risk in your career path
  • Prof Lieu’s decision to leave RISD
  • Feeling regret can be worse than not taking a risk
  • Jordan’s decision to go to graduate school across the country
  • Cat’s story about taking a risk within a short time crunch at art school
  • Jordan attending RISD for his BFA
  • Investing time into an artwork, not knowing whether it will work out
  • You can’t do A+ work all the time
  • Having a mentor & community is essential to being an artist
  • Cat’s gap year living in France
  • Cat’s rejection from a French art school
  • Rejection in the college admissions process
  • Risk taking vs. Being stubborn
  • Failure is frustrating, but the challenge is how to pick yourself up
  • How to stay mentally strong
  • Progress is not always evident, look at your work from many years ago
  • Maintaining your mental health is most important!

Prof Lieu’s Tips

I think what’s really hard about being an artist is that we have to deal with the lack of predictability, that we never know what direction to go in, and the billions of choices make it so hard!

That’s one of the reasons why I think being an artist is so frustrating for many people. If you want to be a doctor, your path is set, you know that you have to go to med school, do a residency, take the boards, you don’t have to wonder what to do next.

I’m not saying being a doctor is easy at all, simply that the path is set and you don’t get to choose whether or now you want to go to medical school.

I think that’s a reason I liked playing music so much; it was so satisfying when I played the right note, there is none of that as an artist!