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How Art Teaches Us to Fail (A Creative Approach to Learning)

Art Teaches Us to Fail!

Oprah Winfrey once said, “there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction”. In a world filled with perfectionism and immeasurable hunger for success, most people are inclined toward the belief that “failure is not an option.”

Well, one might ask, how will I know if I’m succeeding or making an improvement at what I do, be it business, personal goals, social life, or career if I have no room to make mistakes? How will I gauge my success if failure is not an option?

Failure is not a hindrance to success but a part of it. Here are some ways to use art to experiment and learn from failure. But first, what is failure, and why is it important?

What is Failure, and Why is it Important?

Failure refers to the lack of success. Contrary to popular belief that failure means the end of something, failure is not a stop and reset but a way of life. The idea of failure is meant to be a guiding principle, to act as guidance, foundation, and motivation for what one does.

Yes, failure means the lack of success, but if we are to find the importance of failure, we need to look at this definition from a different perspective.

Now imagine this scenario, two people, A and B, attend a job interview,

where they both fail to secure the job. Now person A sees the job rejection

to mean that they are not good enough to secure the job. In contrast,

person B sees the rejection as an opportunity to ask for feedback from the

interviewers regarding their interview skills or what made them not secure

the job and use this feedback to better themselves in their future interviews.

Now, who has a better chance of securing a job in the future?

Yes, you are right. Person B has a better chance. Person B took their failure at the interview as an opportunity to improve their interview skills.


As Oprah Winfrey says, “there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction”. Failure does not mean an end; instead, it means an opportunity to take a step back, a moment to evaluate previously developed strategies or plans and assess what went wrong; what did I miss? What can I change? Failure is an essential part of life. Viewing failing as an opportunity for improvement instills the attitude of creativity, innovation, and positive thinking.

Experiment and Learn from Failure with Art and Creativity

First, before discussing how art can help you experiment and learn from failures, it is vital to understand the context of art. Research shows that “art is constructed according to specific logic which could be described as “what would happen if.” In an attempt to express their artwork, artists are engaging in an experiment. They attempt to explore and answer the question “what would happen if.” It is a journey of examining the possibilities.

Art involves aligning one’s creativity and skill with the idea of possibility or probability. While other subjects, such as history, primarily focus on facts or what has already happened, art, on the other hand, focuses on what could happen. When a painter combines different colors and uses different shapes, lines, and textures, the painter’s main objective is the possibility of what could happen when these elements are combined or what artwork they can achieve.

Art, subject to consumer judgment, is simply a way to experiment and learn from failure.

The primary mission of art is to express the invisible into visible form. Remember that art is characterized by originality. For artists to produce original content, they are developing their art from an experimental nature. Experimenting means being willing to fail and try again and again until one gets the desired results.

In most cases, the first trial offers a promising effect which is not perfection; instead, it is an opportunity to explore more possibilities. It is a chance to perfect and produce much more potent and better artwork.

The only way an artist can improve and master their creativity is by repeatedly experimenting as they produce more artwork.

The celebrated and successful show The Ellen Show resulted from years of Ellen DeGeneres learning to perfect her art of being a talk show host. Before becoming one of the most celebrated and successful talk show hosts and comedians, Ellen played several television roles which were not successful and also canceled. Throughout her career, Ellen used each opportunity to master her hosting and comedian skills, such that when The Ellen Show first aired, she was a master at her art.

As an artist, as you actualize your skill and creativity and attempt to turn the invisible into the visible in a unique and original approach, you are experimenting and learning from failure.

Famous Artists Who Have Encountered Failure

Ever heard of the quote “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor” by Truman Capote? Charles Chaplin, an actor and filmmaker, and Joanne Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, are some famous artists who have shown the courage to continue after failure; they used their failures in their artwork to give their success flavor.

Let their stories be an inspiration to your artistic journey and career.

Charles Chaplin

Before becoming one of the most celebrated and successful actors and filmmakers in the Hollywood film industry, Charles Chaplin’s success in the film was one characterized by failures. When Chaplin first introduced his act to Hollywood, the chiefs belittled his act, terming it as nonsensical and with little to no chance of selling; his film The Great Dictator was banned in Germany, and he was also banned by the United States Justice Department from living, performing, or directing in the United States during the start of the Hollywood Blacklist era. Despite these failures, Chaplin is celebrated as a filmmaking, directing, and acting icon.

In one of his quotes, he says,” I don’t want perfection of detail in the acting. I’d hate a picture that was perfect; it would seem machine-made. I want the human touch so that you love the picture for its imperfections” These phrases show that Chaplin lived with the belief of being willing to fail since, in his art, he was not after perfection; he was after taking the risk of making mistakes and creating original, authentic and entertaining films.

Joanne Rowling

As a famous author of one of the iconic literature works and top-selling novel, Harry Potter, Joanne Rowling did not achieve overnight success; hers was a story of breaking the rules, creating her path, and daring to dream and taking risks. When she first wrote the first installments of Harry Potter, nine publishers rejected publishing her novel before being signed by Bloomsbury Publishing. She received criticism from the publishing representative, citing that she would not make any money selling children’s books. Despite this, Rowling lived to write an iconic literature work.

Be Willing to Fail

We all know how the fear of failure characterizes the creative process in art. It can be scary to develop unique, original, and successful artwork. But how will you know if you will succeed if you do not try?

How will you know if that song or novel will be the best seller if you do not hit that publish button? How will you produce successful work if you have no failed artwork to compare with, re-do, or perfect?

You see, producing successful artwork will only happen if you are willing to bet on yourself and still do if you fail in the first attempt. It will only happen if you are willing to experiment with the possibilities of your artwork. And as you know, with experimentation, there is the possibility of making mistakes and failure. Take that rejection, critique, and failure as a promising effect, an opportunity to expound on the possibilities of your artwork, how far can you go.

So, why not bet on yourself and be willing to risk, fail, try again, fail better, and be the professional you desire?

What is Failure, and Why is it Important? Helps?

The creative process and a creative mind are characterized by innovation, a growth mindset, a positive attitude, a willingness to risk, and most importantly, being willing to fail. In art, there is no one-fit-for-all plan for successful artwork.

Each artist will tell you a different story of how they mastered their craft. An essential part of any successful artist is creativity, and with creativity comes the willingness to make mistakes and mine them for profound artwork and possibilities.

A creative mind is open to making mistakes. And art is the knowledge of knowing which mistakes to keep or mine for profound possibilities. Failure is not a stop and reset but a way of life. So, why not shift our focus from “failure is not an option, to “fail again, try again, fail better” in our creative journey?

With a willingness to fail, you are assured of a growth mindset, innovation, making mistakes, a positive attitude, and profound artwork which is a perfection of previously made mistakes. A great way to get started with this is to join the next creative challenge. Find details here.

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