Australian Fine Artist

Success – An Observation

Similarities and Contrasts of the Successful

Contrasting and comparing a famous artist with an entrepreneur like Sir Richard Branson may seem a stretch, as you may wonder what do these seemingly very different types of people have in common?

During the past two years as I have been studying to complete my Diploma of Visual Art, I decided that to enhance my learning for my career as a fine artist I needed to find out not only the technical details of what made a particular artist so revered and admired – and what made their art “work” but also what drives a person to keep on their chosen road to success. Be this a very long road that takes a lifetime or a relatively speedy one that brings success at an earlier age.

What have these people had or do they currently have that brought them to the top in their field?

Today I completed my book about Cézanne. I then watched an interview with Sir Richard Branson. It may seem a bit os a stretch to lump them together but in history, I feel that both will leave a significant mark. Through learning more about them I have come to admire both these men for various reasons.

Cézanne, although from a wealthy background, kept working to refine his style and methods in painting to the day he died. He never gave up. He had total faith in himself, that what he was trying to achieve was important no matter what bad press he got. To keep going with opinions and sales against you for most of your life must take a will of iron. I don’t think it is a matter of ego but of calling or understanding who you are and what you need to achieve in your lifetime. Cézanne had support from his mother and a few friends but for the most part was a very solitary person who didn’t need the encouragement of a wide circle of people to help him to keep working. Of course he had periods of serious self doubt, but it didn’t stop him.

Richard Branson has created a global empire of many businesses under the Virgin “banner head” which arose from a small magazine and a desire to help students. His supportive family, obvious social skills and optimistic nature give him the character to weather setbacks and turn a bad situation into an opportunity. Listening to him speak, I got the impression that for him the word no just means it must be yes to something else even better. Unlike Cézanne, Richard has a supportive family and wide network around him. He takes leaps of faith if you will, with confidence and a calmness that I can only respect and admire. His ability to keep his vision, however, even with such a great support network around him, has to come from within him. He has a passion and is willing to work to see it happen.

So, what similarities or contrasts can I glean from reading or listening to the stories from these two men?

I want to answer that with a simple list of one to two word impressions that come to mind when thinking about them:

  • Drive
  • Passion
  • Self Belief
  • Vision
  • Learning
  • Dedication
  • Imagination

Next, what can I learn and apply for myself? Can I take on the attributes that I feel will work for me and help me in my endeavours to succeed?

I am learning with every new book I read, or art chat/lecture that I attend how other creatives whether artists or not, have navigated their way through disappointment, setback, failure and success. The essential element in all of it has been the not giving up, the drive to keep going which must come from within. Someone said that you can find a lot of overeducated “bums” on the street. Meaning that education and learning by itself and of itself is not a recipe for success. There has to be more, or else people from underprivileged backgrounds would never have succeeded in the past.

There has to be something in the person that makes you get up each morning determined to do something more; something more that yesterday, something better than the day before. I don’t know if I naturally have this within me, or if I am learning to take it on as I am inspired by so many amazing people.

When I played tennis I wanted to be a really good tennis player (like those I admired) – I wanted to win, when I was a graphic designer/artist and application specialist I wanted to be a really good one, now that I am studying art – back to where I started from in my teens, I want to be the best art student and artist I can be. Really in my past work and pleasure time I have only wanted to be really good or the best at whatever I did. Not to show off, and not to belittle others – it has never had anything to do with anyone except me doing what I feel I must for myself.

I had a fellow employee yell across the room at me once, when talking about my emerging art activities “It’s all about you, you, you!!! You are so self absorbed!!!” Well they had asked me what I had been doing over the weekend and having no kids or close family , it really was about my husband and my art – yes me, me, me. Because I was on a path with destination in mind, I was excited about it and happy to talk about the journey.

So, yes, the drive and determination is about the dialogue and the vision in your head and it can be a little self centred at times, but if you are not going to help yourself succeed, who will? Cézanne took very few along with him on his journey, Richard is taking a whole lot of people along on his. I have a feeling that if my journey is successful my companions will be a small select group. Hopefully we will enjoy the experience and I will be able to get to the end of it feeling I have accomplished something worthwhile that I can be proud of. Maybe that is what has been in the minds of these two men as well.

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