I’ve always been described by my close friends and family as ‘resilient’, but what does this mean? Is there a limit to this resilience?
When I talk about resilience I’m referring to it in psychological rather than physical sense. How do we react to things that life throws at us? Mind.org says “Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances”. As someone who works in the creative industry I believe that the capacity to adapt is the currency that we have to offer the society we are part of. Our creative problem solving and ability to challenge the norm, informs and enlightens society on new ways to work and behave. As an artist, resilience is key to the overall success of my practice. My resilient approach makes my work evolve, my creations are constantly changing and therefore they remain relevant and engaging to audiences.
Recently we’ve all been challenged by circumstance out of our control, the pandemic has changed the landscape we live and work in. In the spring of 2020, like many others, I found myself without any real income. After the initial shock my resilience kicked in and within a few days I’d created new ways to survive financially and at the same time I’d developed a way to continue making and sharing my creative output in uncertain times. Resilience is not continuing to do the same things again and again expecting a different outcome, I think that would be called persistence, something that wouldn’t have helped me in this situation. Instead my built-in resilience helped me find solutions to my problems.
More recently this resilience has been tested even further. A large part of an artistic career is spent in front of a computer screen, on my own, applying for opportunities and funding, and submitting proposals to galleries and organisations. This constant and relentless process of form filling and letter writing requires resilience, but for me the real challenge comes from the inevitable failures or rejections that result from this work. This is part of ‘the game’, a certain % of rejections are to be expected. However, after a particularly difficult period of time I find myself looking back on 6 months of applications and submissions that have ultimately amounted to nothing. The sales of my commercial prints have virtually stopped and I don’t have an obvious way to navigate myself out of this situation. If I’m honest, my resilience has been tested and, creatively I’m running on fumes. Naturally I’ve begun to question the quality of my work. Is it good enough? Should I keep going?
I believe that resilience is much like a rubber band, it can stretch, re-shape, playing with one can be really fun and at the same time painful, it has multiple uses, it can change form and ultimately it can return to its original shape. Much like an elastic band, with training your resilience can stretch and grow. Just one bit of advice, make sure you give yourself time and space to recover, this avoids you irreversibly snapping the metaphorical band completely.
So what am I going to do next? It’s simple… the only thing that I can do… I’m going to keep my practice going, keep making time to play and in turn this will help me find a deeper resilience that will help me create even better work going forwards. In the words of Nelson Mandela “Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”.
You can read more about my practice here and check our previous exhibitions here. Please feel free to comment or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Please remember… chase the play… not the pay :)