How Lacey Monroe deals with disappointment

I contacted Lacey Monroe several months ago regarding an interview for the book.  Here is my previous post about her.  Just to refresh your memory, she is a fine art documentary photographer based in Portland, Oregon.  She is also the mother of two young children, ages 5 and 3.

During our interview, I asked Lacey how she deals with disappointment in her creative journey.  This is what she had to say:

I think disappointment is a totally normal and even healthy part of being an artist. You have to show up and do the work, even when it is in a creative field. I may only actually like a few photos of mine each year (if I’m lucky!) but I have to take all the ones I am unhappy with just to be able to achieve those few that I like. Being disappointed in your work, just means that you see how you can grow. If I was always satisfied with my work I would grow complacent and would stop pushing myself to grow and change as an artist. That is not to say that when disappointment hits it is not at time devastating. It absolutely can be. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and when you get passed over for an award or gallery show, it’s hard to not get down on yourself. However, you have to recognize that as trap that will bog you down and do what you can not to let it. When I am feeling discouraged with my art, I will take a bit of break with the creative end of things and work on all the backend boring business stuff that is always on my to-do list, but so often gets pushed down farther and farther on the list because it isn’t as fun for me as creating. So if I just don’t have it in me to create, there is still a long list of things I can work on. I also make time to hang out with other creative in real life, groups online are great for support and community, but there is nothing quite like having actual face to face time with other artists to bond, grow, and, perhaps, commiserate. This can be something as simple as happy hour drinks with a local photographer or it can be more elaborate and attending a retreat or workshop away from home. I also have a running list of photography books on my wish list, so if I am feeling particularly uninspired I will treat myself to a new book so I can get lost in the work of the master photographers that I find endlessly inspiring.

She makes so many great points here.

  1. Disappointment is a necessary evil.  It’s a good way to identify ways you can improve.
  2. You do have to show up and do the work.  Just because it’s creative doesn’t mean it just magically happens.  It’s still work.
  3. It’s easy to compare yourself to others in your field but don’t do it.  Spend that time creating instead of Facebook stalking others and you will come out so much further ahead.
  4. When you aren’t feeling so creative, there’s always other work to be done.  Find something else to do that still relates to your craft, such as the not-so-fun business side of things.
  5. While online groups are great, nothing compares to actual face-to-face time with other artists.  Take the time to meet up with other artists in your area with whom you can share ideas, successes and failures.
  6. Read a book.  Always have a list of books to read.  Books pertaining to your craft can offer great inspiration.

A huge “thank you” to Lacey Monroe.  She had so much to offer.  I look forward to sharing more from her interview in the book.

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