Measuring Success

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Artwork Created:

Roman de Salvo , USA | view biography

I was asked to write about how I measure success. Thing is, I don¹t think I measure it in any quantitative way. I regard success as more of a fleeting feeling than an objective state, technically too subjective to measure. But you know it when you feel it.

Success for an artist is a reflection of the success of one¹s artwork, which is based on its ability to catalyze some kind of psychic stimulation in one¹s audience. So when I have the sense that something I created has lit up someone¹s mind in a way that I recognize as getting it, I feel successful as an artist -- and gratified. Basically, it¹s as simple as that.

Granted, some works are more successful than others. One can sense the difference in one's work and in the feedback. I suppose when one¹s work has had enough instances of successful connections with one's audience,
one eventually gets some recognition. Then one¹s work and one¹s reputation can work together in a community and in a marketplace to allow one to begin to make a living as an artist and perhaps on occasion, to be invited to contribute one¹s thoughts in forums such as this. This feels like an accomplishment, perhaps a second tier of success.

We can quantify the markers of success more precisely if we care to. There is a website that has a system for doing so and has come up with a ranking of thousands of contemporary artists in the world. As I write this, I see that I rank at 13,837 on Yet, I feel nothing for this ranking and am convinced that I would feel the same if my ranking were higher or if I was not listed at all.

If I was to devise a system for measuring success, I wouldn¹t use dollars, pounds, square feet, degrees, volts or even data regarding exhibitions, bibliography, et cetera. I would try to work out a way of counting smiles
and make sure to include my own with extra value.

Roman de Salvo
San Diego, 2007


Lisa Adams, USA | view biography

Lisa Adams, Who's the Caretaker , 2005, Oil on Panel, 24" X 34"

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