I think too often artists put more emphasis on exposure than expression.
There is this preconceived notion that ones work is only worthy when viewed by an audience larger than that of their common community. An idea that one's art is only as impressive as the amount of people who see it.
This obsession with mass acceptance stems mostly from human nature, however when examined from an artistic vantage point seems somewhat misguided.
This infatuation with seeing our name in bright lights can easily blind us, so much so that we lose sight of (or never even come to realize) the fundamental forces behing our creative craft.
Prolonged periods of this acknowledgable concern can often hinder our very ability to perform.
When embracing these assumptions, one begins to defince success as recognition and not execution.
And although there may be countless cases to confirm this theory (success = recognition), there are as many, if not more, examples of individuals who's unglorified existence suggests that quite the opposite also qualifies as an accurate description of success. Take for example Van Gogh, a house hold name who is just as famous for his paintings as he is for his lack of ability to sell them.
Although I'm sure the adage of Van Gogh never selling a single painting is far exaggerated (he probably sold 3 or so, his paintings aren't that bad) it is well documented he made little to no living off of being an artist. And yet today his name rings synonymous with 'painting' and even 'artist'.
One can easily argue you that Van Gogh is "successful", however, he doesn't know that.
This alternative perspective of success only weakens its very definition by proving that both ends of the spectrum can yield the same results. Thus recognition (known or unknown) is ultimately only a side effect of success, and not its core definition.
(A stupid drawing to break up the text. Khan takes birthday's very seriously)
This approach to art is something I've been exploring the past few months as I try to define myself as an artist and an individual. In doing so I've embraced a new understanding of being an artist, simply put; inspire.
I do what I do to inspire others. To have a positive impact on their lives.
Now initially it is easy to be overwhelmed by this outlook assuming that 'impact' like recognition is only as powerful as the amount of people you reach. But before jumping to that conclusion one must examine and understand the true nature of inspiration.
When beginning to approach the question you will arrive abruptly at an evident truth, inspiration is impossible to measure, and yet this problem is actually the answer.
When you understand the vastness of inspiration, it becomes evident that numbers are irrelevant. Do not under estimate your ability to impact, whether it be one person or one hundred persons. The quantity is insignificant, the quality infinite.
When dealing with infinite forces it is impossible for any particular snap shot to be more focused than the whole. Inspiring one person is the same as inspiring a hundred people, they are indistinguishable from one and other.
I've always envied musicians, those capable of singing on street corners, whose message impact every passerby. Whether that individual stops to listen, or refuses to engage in eye contact, your words are heard. I admire this kind of immediate inspiration and I began to ask myself, "why can't I do that?"
and then I realized "I can."
I performed covers of my favorite artists, Stephen Hillenburg, Craig McCracken, as I drew characters from Spongebob and Foster's Home for the good people of my community. In doing so i have granted myself an opportunity to have an instant impact on a person's life, creating a brief moment of brightness that I'd like to think can have a lasting affect.
I play music with pictures.
As far as I'm concerned, I've "made it".
you can be as successful as you want to be when you choose to embrace a definition of the word that allows you to be so.
It is impossible to define greatness, not due to its abstract nature, but because it is a fluctuation force with varying degrees of altitude. Each of us are capable of greatness in our own ways.
One can only be as successful as you allow yourself to be.