PERSIST 5: In Praise of the Creative Spirit in a World Gone Mad with Commerce

Fifth installment of a series from Peter Clothier’s book:


Find Directions Out

Setting priorities for artists is important.  What is your goal?  Most artists waste time working on projects that drain their energy, make excuses to not work and avoid a honest discussion about their art.  According to Clothier: “I often don’t now what I’ve been missing-nor indeed that I have been missing it- until after I have put it down in words.  Then I sometimes wonder why I failed to see it as it happened and regret the time I wasted along the way.”  Time is a valuable gift and must be used effectively.  Completing tasks makes one closer to obtaining goals.  As a result, satisfaction is the best gratification.

How do we get to our desired destination?

Clothier: “It’s all about play, about the interplay between the human senses and the human heart, about the dance- or sometimes, more painfully, the hand-to-hand combat- with medium.  It’s about learning to listen before saying; it’s about not knowing and the adventure of finding out.”  As an artist and educator, I’ve learned over the years that life is process.   It can be beautiful, messy, complicated, smooth, boring and exciting.  It’s what we make of it that makes it worthwhile.


This next chapter hit a nerve with me.  I run into this all the time.  Clothier nails it: “It occurs to me that our culture does not much encourage us to honor discipline, much less to practice it.”  Honestly, existence does not make you unique.

What makes you so special?

Clothier states: “Persistence is a discipline, too.  It’s a rejection of every distraction and excuse that come along and a return of my attention to the task at hand.”   In a culture that wants results yesterday, persistence is truly an unique characteristic.  I had a student once ask: “Why aren’t galleries offering representation to students?  Other majors have companies waiting for graduates.”

If you aren’t getting rejections as an artist, you aren’t working.  No red carpet, special treatment or service will be waiting. Persistence, hard work and determination will guide you.

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