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Crafting a Celebration of Our Own Successes

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I took this photo on my way to class last night.

I love how much sunshine we’re getting these days, deep into the evening. I love how this rainbow reflects the lesson I was preparing to teach that night: how to get ahead of artistic jealousy by focusing in on our own successes — and by lifting others up unprompted. I love how this touristy little spot became my own moment of reflection.

Last night’s topic of conversation was huge: artistic jealousy. We all feel it, even if we know we shouldn’t. We all crave that validation that we imagine our colleagues are receiving every moment of the day. But it isn’t until we sit down and reflect on our own success that we can really reframe our thinking about jealousy.

We started the discussion reading Leah Nanako Winkler’s incredible essay “You Must Practice Gratitude for Successes Big + Small.” We read her words out loud, letting her own philosophy of artistic gratitude wash over us. We talked about sentences that leapt out at us. For me, it’s “I try not to bask in my own insecurities because that is dismissive of the people who support me.” For the visual artist in our group, it was “I write from a place of truth because it is pointless to lie.” For the filmmaker in our group, it was “I cling to the love that surrounds me.”

I asked everyone to spend 15 minutes writing their own celebration of their success. I shared a blog post I wrote in February, shortly after reading Leah’s own writing. I reveled in the writing instruments that surrounded me: the scratch of a pencil on a spiral notebook, the clicking of typing keys on a laptop, the gentle silence of a pen in a journal. We reconvened and shared our thoughts and feelings. We were vulnerable with each other in a way that felt like prayer. We talked about why we allow ourselves to dive into jealousy — how easy that is.

I know the conversation could have lasted for another hour at least, but I had another topic I wanted to discuss, another way for us to get ahead of those jealous feelings. I talked about a few different ways that I’ve seen artists I admire lift others up. I talked about folks who use their social media platforms not as algorithmic machines, but as platforms for the people they admire. I brought up friends who reserve their email signature for informal letters of recommendation for others in their field — a platform I want to start utilizing as well. I shared the Coven page of my own website, a tribute to every womxn I’ve worked with who I vouch for wholeheartedly. It’s due for an update, an addition, but it’s there.

The summer session of Crafting Your Artistic Handbook is starting in just a few weeks and I cannot wait to have this discussion with a whole new crop of artists. In an industry built on scarcity, but fueled by a lack of funds and an unwillingness to value its creators to their full brilliant potential, it’s easy to get protective and spiteful. Instead, we should be looking at our own value, our own voice. We should be celebrating ourselves and lifting others up as we do. Artists are powerful. Let’s use that power for good.


Registration is now open for the summer session of Crafting Your Artistic Handbook. The series runs July 8 to August 12 on Monday evenings. Classes are held online and can be accessed from anywhere around the world. Join me on this artistic journey!