Have you ever felt like nobody cares about your art? That every time you upload a photo to Facebook, the only person to “like” it is your mother? Maybe your cousins? A few friends on Flickr? You’re not alone. So many artists of all sorts—photographers, filmmakers, painters, writers—get discouraged by the lack of immediate interest. The world of art rarely has anything to do with talent—especially on social media.
If you’ve ever felt like that, watch this video immediately:
The 10-minute video essay created and narrated by Adam Westbrook, details the early career life of Vincent van Gogh, who spent the first decade of his career—which only began when he was 27, late by any measure—painting a copious body of often crappy work that nobody at the time saw.
The years of struggle as an artist took a toil on his life—emotionally, mentally and physically. But that didn’t stop him from pursuing his goal.
Of course, after enough years, van Gogh’s style become more distinct, and he garnered more attention and accolades. We all know his name today. But while his success was something of an anomaly, and we’d be foolish to all believe we’ll share the same famous destiny, the morals hold true: that the successful in life are made up of those who did not give up.
Westbrook combines van Gogh’s biography with a definition of the word “autotelic,” as defined here:
The goal, then, is to create work in an autotelic way, serving only to please ourselves. Don’t try to please others, no matter how many Facebook shares or retweets you see your peers enjoying. Your art is your own, and if you’re confident enough in it, good things will come. One day.