This past month has been full of surprises, challenges, and opportunities. I’ve been booked for a new charity event, asked to walk my first Miami runway, chosen to represent an up-and-coming international brand, and been given the chance to write/direct/act in my own short video. But among all of these new occurrences, there is one more that excites me beyond my wildest dreams… I was given the glorious opportunity to pose in a new bridal design by the talented Yong Lin. It is now available for sale to the public, and is called the “Ashley.”
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Why would I bother writing about this? This is a place where my words are meant to motivate and inspire, not to gloat or brag. The reason I’m sharing this – and you can be inspired by this – is monumental. A few years ago, I never would have dreamed these things would happen during my lifetime. I was never confident in my artistic ability. Everything I wrote would find its way to the garbage, and pictures? Forget about it. In front of the camera wasn’t even a place I wanted to be. I would have laughed had somebody told me these things would come to pass. My confidence has not changed much, I am still surprised every time I am asked to step in front of somebody else’s camera or be the face of a new brand. But if it feels so impossible, how does it keep happening?
Simple. I keep trying.
The beautiful and terrible thing about art is its never-ending subjectivity. What one person thinks is beautiful, another may claim to be hideous. How do we know if we are doing a good job? How do we know what we’re doing is being accepted? Financial return is one measurement of success, but sometimes the only success is a quiet reaction somebody has when one of our pieces deeply resonates with them. They may never speak a word about it, but our pictures, paintings, songs, or whatever we produce may take them on an internal journey of which we are never aware. And every once in a while, that one piece that elicits that one reaction is enough to open a new door for us.
The humble creative will always receive the words “good job” or “nice work” with an instant wave of warmth and satisfaction. Why? Because we don’t hear these words nearly enough. We often wonder if anyone really cares about what we do. If any of it matters. But if we were to listen to these voices of doubt every time they spoke, musicians would cease to play, painters to paint, writers to write, photographers to photograph, and models… The world would be a bleak, colorless, music-less place.
Art is not a field for the easily-discouraged. Success is gained by building your audience. Building your audience is accomplished with persistence, dedication, networking, and the never-ending quest for constant improvement. It can be difficult to do these things when we don’t hear those phrases “good job” or “nice work,” but rarely will we hear those words often in the beginning. As I’ve stated before, this is why our motivation should not be strictly for finances or widespread approval. The way to stay motivated is by doing this because we want to. Because it’s natural to who we are. Because we love it, and will persist until our work finds the way to the people who love it too – whether we know it or not. And let me tell you, even better than a “good job” is a silent enchantment followed by a new opportunity or a “We’ll hire you!”
Like many fields, the artist’s opportunities usually grow according to their skill and experience. Regardless of the current present – or lack of – praise, we should always be walking the road of consistent improvement. This is the path to new chances.
So, models, keep going to your castings. Keep practicing in front of the mirror. Keep striving to be a good representation of designers and brands so you are ready for the opportunity to come.
Photographers, keep taking your pictures. Keep developing your style. Keep producing the moods and tones only you can.
Performers, musicians, dancers, writers… Keep saying what you have to say through your work. Not for the praise, but because it’s who you are. Keep sharing what you love with the world until if reaches the people who love it too.
You may still never achieve confidence. You may still have the occasional doubt. But never forget that with hard work, the previously impossible may become possible.
Model: Ashley BeLoat