What can you learn from failure as an artist? A lot! Many people will avoid putting themselves out there creatively because they fear the failure as an artist. But that’s how you learn and grow. You can’t learn how to be an artist just by reading a book or watching others. Even though that is helpful. You have to actually get out there and be willing to fall on your face and fail over and over again. I asked some artists what their biggest failures were and what you can learn from failure as an artist:

Learn from failure as an artist

“I started to perform in public after a 5 year gap (stopped playing publicly when I went to college). I felt way more nervous than I had when playing in an indie band in high school. So, I decided to try and shake some rust off at an open mic night in Indianapolis and try some of my new originals. It was only one song at this open mic night. But when I got to the falsetto parts (the high notes), I completely tensed up – making it very difficult to control my voice. That, of course, made me even more tense, which snowballed into a terrible vocal performance.

What did you learn from failure?

I learned three main things:
  1. People are very supportive and forgiving at open mic nights (they’re all artists that have been there too!)
  2. Messing up isn’t the end of the world. Yes, it sucked, but it helped me start to learn how to play through mistakes
  3. Most importantly, it made me focus on my vocals as a way to combat nerves. I am taking voice lessons and really getting more comfortable with controlling my voice.
Marcus Wadell

Embrace both sides of the brain

As a stand-up comedian, I bomb ALL the timeeeee. Bombing can give you terrible writer’s block. I would sit in coffee shops near open mics and then just flake out when it came to doing the mic.
I’ve learned with creativity, the main thing is to embrace the two sides of the brain, 1) the creative side 2) the editor.  Also, it’s always a great exercise to AIM to bomb.  This helps be less judgmental.  When one stops being judgmental of their creative stuff, it is amazing how you end up writing some of the best stuff. Mainly because you’re writing less from the ego and less of what you think people will like and doing stuff that is more true to who you are.
Here is a video where I react to my old stand-up clips!  I bomb pretty hard lol!
I created a mini-course on YouTube with what I’ve learned from bombing- called “From Procrastination to Post” because I didn’t realize how much of my procrastination was linked to me being afraid of failing at my art.
Amy Jans

Bombing in Grand Style

“I have been involved in the performing arts or over 40 years…which means I have had the learning experience of “bombing” more than once.  I started as an actor and as my career continued I expanded into directing, writing and producing.  Currently I am the owner and Creative Director of Scott Swenson Creative Development LLC.

My most impactful “bombing” story happened just a couple of years ago when I decided to return to the live stage for the first time in over 15 years. I was cast in a production of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit”.  Now the first red flag was that I decided to make my “grand return” in a period piece with extremely precise and complicated language. PLUS, I was cast as Charles…who nearly never leaves the stage.  I was thrilled that the director and producers had enough confidence in me to give me such a wonderfully written role.  The rehearsal period was 2 weeks, which would have been substantial back in the day, but it had been a while since I had to grasp and retain scripted content then bring it to life on stage (I had been doing improvisation and commercial work most recently.)

Exit stage left

By the end of the first week I was panicked.  I wasn’t able to remember the script and I was beginning to feel that I had made a huge mistake.  I got so down on myself that one night after rehearsal I fell into tears and didn’t stop until the next morning.  After I was all cried out, I decided that the old ways of doing things weren’t going to get me through this production, so I completely changed and intensified my approach (This was the first time I had ever worked on lines while playing with my dog, bicycling in my neighborhood or even waking up in the middle of the night to do a “show run” in my head.)  By the time the show opened, I was ready and back on track.  The run went fine and my performance was even recognized favorably by local critics.  So, although the audience never saw me bomb, the cast, crew and staff did.  I will NEVER let that happen again.  I would almost rather bomb on stage than undermine my professional integrity.  Theatre is a collaborative art form and in this situation, I was unable to be an effective contributor to that collaboration.

What worked in the past, may not work now

I learned that every time you set foot on stage, is a new and different experience.  What has worked in the past may not work now and that I can never rest on my past success (or even my current success in related fields).  The next show I was cast in (with the same director…so apparently, I was forgiven) started completely fresh.  My approach to the script had changed and I was READY…then COVID hit and the show was cancelled.  I wanted so badly to “get back on the horse”, but I guess I’ll just have to hang out around the stables for a while longer before I get my chance.


Owner/Creative Director
Scott Swenson Creative Development LLC

Life of a Rock Star

My name is Zach Bellas. I have been a professional touring musician for the past eleven years and also run an independent label in the Washington DC area.
Right now I front a three-piece rock band called Zach Bellas. My bomb story, however, happened when I was playing lead guitar in The Pasadena Band back in 2016.
I had recently just joined the band and we instantly went out on a six or seven week nationwide tour. The band is based in Baltimore and when we got back, they had planned a farewell show for their original guitar player whose shoes I was filling.
They’re wasn’t a ton of planning for the show and I didn’t even know if I was going to perform at all that night or if the other guitar player would do the whole show as his last hurrah.
The venue wasn’t huge, but it was over sold out. 450 people or so were packed in this place and everyone wanted to buy the new guitar player – me – a shot of Jameson. I should mention they pour shots with a heavy hand in Baltimore.

Drinks on the house

I hadn’t eaten all day and started the evening with a bottle of champagne my girlfriend brought since she hadn’t seen me in almost two months. So, I’m getting pretty drunk when all of a sudden I hear ‘Everyone, we would like to introduce our new guitar player. Zach come on up here.’
I knew I had been drinking a lot, but I felt pretty good and thought ‘I got this’. The second I got on stage and strapped the guitar on however, I instantly knew ‘I do not got this’.
As soon as we started playing, I was a complete mess and I knew it was going really bad but couldn’t do anything about it at this point.
The next few minutes are a blur, but it ends with the bass player whispering in my ear ‘Get the f*ck off the stage’ which resulted in me ripping a mic off of the chord and throwing it at his head (or so I hear) grabbing all my gear and marching out of the bar. I walked through downtown Baltimore with my amp, guitar and pedalboard about half a mile to my hotel.
Thought for sure I was fired. But the next morning I got a call ‘Hey man, we gotta head to Virginia Beach in a couple hours. You ready?’
Turns out this type of thing is par for the course in that band and over the next couple years, we would all take turns getting a little too drunk for the show. Never as bad as that night though.
Definitely learned to drink after the show.

Acting is a team sport

My name is Mycah Bacchus and I am a business owner and performer based in Los Angeles CA. During a theatre performance I had a new duel monologue to do which consisted of two actors splitting the monologue, so if one actor messed up one line the whole thing messed up. I was the one who messed up! What I learned was that 1 – acting is a team sport. My partner in the monologue helped me get through it and put me back on track and 2- its never as bad as we think it is. Sometimes as actors we think its the end of the world because we pride ourselves on performances we work so hard for. But, sometimes we mess up. And thats ok. There is always something you can learn from failure as an artist.
What can you learn from failure as an artist?

Never Too Late to be an Artist

While it’s true that there are plenty of things that don’t get better with age, wine and creativity are two things that do. So, if you’ve put off being an artist because you think you’ve missed the boat and are too old to be creative, here’s some good news. It’s never too late to be an artist!

As kids, we all start off as creative beings, making rocket ships out of milk cartons and turning refrigerator boxes into forts. We have imaginary friends, and don capes to become an alter ego super hero.

Creative Dreams on Back Burner

We have dreams of what we want to be when we grow up. But then life gets in the way. Mortgage payments, student loans, and a real job. Those creative dreams get put on the back burner, sometimes indefinitely. And that’s a shame, because it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s never too late to be an artist.

Scientists used to say that we couldn’t grow new brain cells, but now they’re finding out that that’s not true. The brain can grow new brain cells, and in fact, they’ve found that the older brain is actually more resilient and adaptable.

Though we do lose brain cells as we age, the good news is that we actually gain more connections between those cells. By being creative, the brain can strengthen those connections, and reshape, restructure and adapt. Hence, improving cognitive function.

There are plenty of people who have proven that it’s never too late to be creative. A great example is Grandma Moses. Anna Mary Robertson chose the path of getting married and raising children. Art took a backseat for many years. In fact, she didn’t even pick up a paintbrush until she was 78 years old.

She spent her days doing needlepoint until her arthritis made it too difficult. Then one day she was putting up some wallpaper and she ran out of paper. She put up some plain, white paper and painted it herself. The painting now hangs in the Bennington Museum in Vermont. She continued to paint and do exhibitions until almost the day she died at the age of 101.

3 Successful Artists

Here are 3 people who proved it’s never too late to be an artist:

What was your career before you became an artist? Can you share your backstory with us?

Before I became a sculptor I drove an 18-wheeler. When my wife and I wanted a privacy screen to hide our garbage cans – an area that would become my first studio!  I found some an old metal conveyor belt, put a wave in it, and hung it from a frame. I had more of the material and made my first fountain. Soon people were trading with me for fountains. Then a friend handed me five $100 bills and asked me to make him a sound sculpture. I was floored! You mean I can make money doing this?

After several years of working part time while still driving the truck, I got my biggest commission to date and went full time as an artist January 1, 2006. Today I have sculptures all over the country and have won several awards.

What prompted you to pursue an artistic career later in life? At what age did you start?

I was 46 when I went full time. I was so glad I had those years of part time work because I had a handle on what it would be like to be an artist full time.

Have you always had an artistic streak? Was it hidden or has it been a hobby?

I’d never thought about being an artist before! In fact, I failed art and geometry in school. Yet something came alive in me as I began sculpting.

What is your advice for others who think it’s too late to become a successful artist?

There is no time like the present to start. As Dear Abby once said, how old will you be if you DON’T follow your dreams? Also, don’t quit your day job! Try it part time to make sure you like to do what it takes to be an artist and to get some sales or appreciation for  what you do. Make sure you market your work – no one can buy or appreciate what they don’t know about! Note what works and do more of that, whether it’s what you create or how you promote and sell it.
Kevin Caron

What was your career before you became an artist? Can you share your backstory with us?

My career before writing is the same as my career now, which is business development, which is a fancier way of saying sales.   I landed my first sales job in 3rd grade and have been in the field for the past fifty years.  Artists do not always realize that they can be the most talented person on the planet, but if they can not personally sell themselves and their craft, they will not be successful. You must be ready to network and promote yourself. You must overcome any tendency to be an introvert.

What prompted you to pursue an artistic career later in life? At what age did you start?

I began writing around 45 years old and only with the idea of entertaining my friends.  After sharing my short stories and hearing enough times “you should write a book” I did. By the age of 54 I had 4 published books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Have you always had an artistic streak? Was it hidden or has it been a hobby?

I had wanted to be an actor since I was a child and was took acting courses and attended auditions starting at a very young age.  By the time I entered college, I had the self-awareness to realize, finally, that as an actor, I was awful.  But I had stage presence, so I switched gears and began performing standup comedy.

I had more success with the standup than I did acting and actually toured with some pretty famous comics.  After about nine years, I saw that I had no future in stand up and I sought things that a career in comedy could never provide, like an income.  So, I quit and went back to graduate school to receive my MBA.  But the artistic bug never leaves so I chose to become a triple threat, I figured I failed at acting and I failed at comedy, why not fail at becoming an author.

I began writing in 2013 at around 45 years old.  When my first book, Exit Zero, was published in 2016 and was at least relatively successful in relation to the massive number of books that release each year, I decided to stick with it.

What is your advice for others who think it’s too late to become a successful artist?

When it comes to artistic pursuits, it is impossible to say anyone is too old.  I have a friend who went back to medical school at age 50 and became an emergency medicine specialist.  So really, there should be no age limit to any career.  To become successful in any endeavor, it requires persistence, endurance, a positive attitude and hard work.

Also focus on what makes you unique and while it is important to plan, it is also just as important to realize when that plan is not working and change course.  My most recent book, Business is Dead, Resurrecting Entrepreneurship is all about unique entrepreneurs who launched their first venture based on their Fandom of pop culture.

Neil Cohen

Website: https://businessisdead.com

Twitter/Instagram: @ExitZeroZombie

What was your career before you became an artist? Can you share your backstory with us?

I was an administrative assistant for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers right out of undergrad and then I worked as an admissions assistant at the Stern School of Business. Then later worked as an assistant director of an AIDP (Attendance Improvement Drop-out Prevention) program at Jamaica High School in Queens.  I didn’t audition for my MFA at the Actors Studio Drama School until I was 33. Most of my classmates were in their early 20’s just out of undergrad theater programs.

What prompted you to pursue an artistic career later in life? At what age did you start?

My brother encouraged me to become an actor. He was in the cult classic film The Warriors. I was 33 when I made the decision to be an actor full time.

Have you always had an artistic streak? Was it hidden or has it been a hobby?

I was always singing in church. Had my first solo at the age of 7. I toured Europe with gospel groups when I was a teen and later in my twenties to England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France and Israel.

What is your advice for others who think it’s too late to become a successful artist?

It’s never too late to be an actor-look at Betty White, Cicely Tyson, Dame Judi Dench…there will always be a need for older actors who have life experience to bring to a character. As far as singing, dancing, playing instruments-all those things keep us young at heart.

Elizabeth June


FaceBook, Instagram & Twitter: elizabethjuneny 




Being an artist, whether you’re a performing artist, literary artist, or a fine artist, isn’t for the faint of heart. And it isn’t for people with thin skins. This is something you’ll find out very quickly as you put your work out for people to see and start looking to get paid as an artist.

Resilient Artist

If you’re not a resilient artist you’re going to have a tough time sticking with it, and you’ll open yourself up to a lifetime of disappointment. Resilience is what keeps us from giving up when all odds are against us.

What Are Your Odds as an Artist?

What are the odds? Well, for actors who are in the Screen Actors Guild, approximately 93% of them are unemployed at any given time. And two thirds of the actors who are in the guild make less than $1000 a year. That’s not even enough to pay a month’s rent in Hollywood. The odds of making a good living as any kind of artist are stacked against you. But if you know that going in and can weather the storms, you have a much better chance of at least making a good living at your craft, and hopefully getting to the top of your field.

The Entrepreneurial Artist

At Indie Sponsor we believe in the entrepreneurial artist. What entrepreneurs have in common with artists is that you have to be a bit of a risk taker to succeed. And with all risk comes failure. It’s what you do with that failure that will define you as an artist. Failure is just a stepping stone to success. If you’re resilient, you’ll begin to see failure as opportunity and learn from it.

Being an inventor, one of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Edison. “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”. Think about  how many actors, singers, writers, painters simply gave up inches away from getting their big break. Where would they be now? Sometimes I think a lot of artists that make it are the ones that absolutely refuse to ever give up. They have a never-ending supply of resilience.



As an artist, whether it’s in the fine arts, performing arts, or literary arts, we all go through that exhilarating, but exasperating process of creativity. Putting our hearts and souls, and sweat and blood into a piece of art that will hopefully touch other people when they view it or listen to it.

But what if you put all of that time and energy into something just to have it destroyed? What if you were to destroy your own art?

The Cardboard Benini

That is the theme of a great documentary called “The Cardboard Benini”, the story of artist Jimmy Crashow. Crashow showed his artistic talent early in life, when he started making artwork out of discarded cardboard boxes. What everyone else thought was trash, Jimmy saw as a wonderful opportunity to apply his skills to a material that was going to be thrown away.

Throughout his life he supported himself with his illustrations and wood carvings, but it was the cardboard sculptures that were really his passion. He would spend hours in his studio creating unique sculptures that were up to 15 feet tall. One of these sculptures caught the attention of an art dealer Allan Stone, who would later become Jimmy’s dealer.

Stone, an avid art collector ended up with several of the massive sculptures in his house. But after he ran out of room he put them in the backyard, totally exposed to the elements.

Destroy Your Own Art

After Stone died, Crashow went by the house to pay his respects and found the artwork he labored over and cherished was tarnished and melted into a heap of mush. It was then that he got the idea to speed up the process. If cardboard comes from the trash, what if it returned to the trash? And what if the artist who created it also helped destroy it?

In the documentary “The Cardboard Benini”, you see the whole process from conception to death, a purposeful metaphor for life. It will force you to ask the question “As an artist, could you destroy your own creativity”?


Have you ever been to a comedy club where you were the only one laughing at the comedian? Or a film where you walked out and said “How did that get 5 stars?” Well, it seems that art is truly in the eye of the beholder. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash. But what if science could determine the key to being a successful artist?

Does Science Hold the Key to Being a Successful Artist?

Scientists are attempting to use transcranial stimulation. By sending electrical impulses to certain parts of the brain they think they can improve creativity. A person can look at that same comedian or that same movie and find it pleasurable instead of repulsive.

Scientists have been prodding and poking the brain for years now trying to unlock the keys to our deepest feelings, desires, thoughts and emotions. Some of their recent experiments have even shown that by stimulating certain parts of the brain, subjects were able to solve math problems they could never do before. And helped musicians learn how to play a new instrument faster.

This leads me to wonder. “Would you be willing to have your head dissected if you knew you might come out of it being able to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix?

Lightning Strike Turns Man Into a Composer

Tony Cicoria, an orthopaedic surgeon was struck by lightning at a New York park. The lightning went through his head and changed his life. He was never into playing the piano, but the lightning strike gave him a passion for the instrument. First he played other people’s music and now he composes his own.

Transcranial Stimulation

Of course, transcranial stimulation is noninvasive. Many of these studies are more likely to help scientists come up with better treatments for depression than to turn a fledgling artist into a rock star.

After all, when you think about it, being depressed really sucks the joy out of life in general. You lose the ability to find joy in most anything, much less a painting, a film or even a comedy act. So it stands to reason that if you are in a great mood you just might be more likely to find that abstract painting beautiful.

Unfortunately for now there isn’t a magic pill you can take to turn you into the next Keith Richards or Eric Clapton. But you can bet that scientists will keep trying.

After being in the entertainment industry long enough you come across a lot of talented people. Being on the casting, distribution and development side, it always surprised me when I met an artist with incredible talent that no one had ever heard of, including me. You could be the next Oprah, or Madonna, or Spielberg, but if you don’t have a fan base, you may just be destined to be a legend in your own mind. And that would be a terrible waste of talent.

How to Get More Fans

Here are 3 ways to get more fans:

Get Seen

The first thing is that you simply have to get out there and get out a LOT. If you’re a musician, play everywhere you can as often as you can. If you’re an actor, audition for plays, films, or staged readings. Produce your own projects. Volunteer for your friend’s projects. Don’t sit around waiting for them to come to you. Make them happen.

If you’re a filmmaker, make films. Make more films and get them out everywhere you can. If you’re a writer, write. Yes, this sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people claim to be writers who rarely write. People who claim to be actors, yet sit around waiting for the phone to ring. Also, don’t hide behind your computer and don’t communicate solely through texting and email. Let people see that you’re human.

Give People Incentive

There was an old shampoo commercial that said “…and they tell 2 friends, and they tell 2 friends…” The point is, if you want fans you have to find ways to multiple them, and that means they have to tell 2 friends and those friends tell 2 more, and so on. You could just count on waiting for enough fans who really like your stuff to eventually pass it on. Or you could do it the free market way and give people a little incentive. Am I saying you should bribe them? No, not at all.

But if they are your fans anyway they would probably be happy to pass your art along. They would be even happier and more driven to do it if you gave them some incentive.  Check out Fandistro. Musicians reward their fans with a 20% commission when they introduce others to their music. This is the whole premise behind affiliate programs online, and that “buy 10 frozen yogurts, get 1 free” card offline. You would have gone there anyway, but getting a free yogurt is just extra incentive.

Stay in Touch

One way to stay in touch with your fans is through social media. This is one reason why you should always be doing something to further your career. You need to constantly have something to talk about other than what you had for lunch. Do you have a newsletter? If you don’t, you should. Occasionally give out some cool freebies and secret VIP backstage passes to your very best fans.

People love free stuff. And if they already love your work, they’ll also love your free CD, or book, or T-shirt, or fill in the blank with something cool and unique. Give them a two for one ticket to your next concert or play. That way they’ll bring a friend. Make sure you say it should be a friend who’s never seen your work before. BAM! Now you’ve added even more fans. And hopefully they’ll tell 2 friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends…


For years independent artists have had to rely on gatekeepers to give them their shot at having their voices heard. But finally the old gatekeeper system is coming down. Book publishers no longer have the kind of power they used to have. Record companies are giving way to independent artists who can bypass the old system and take their music straight to the customer. TV is breaking into many different niches, and film distribution is no longer just for the major studios.

Money for Independent Artists

So, distribution has become more accessible, but the one thing that’s missing is the money. That’s where Indie Sponsor comes in.

New Distribution Models

I created Indie Sponsor as a former TV/film distributor, casting director and development executive. I was tired of seeing really talented artists who would never getting a shot because they didn’t have the contacts in the industry. But now things have changed. Artists no longer have to go through the regular channels to get their work out there. The old TV and film distribution model is giving way to whole Internet networks. Now up and coming artists can launch their own TV show or film without begging for distribution from a gatekeeper.

Small Business Sponsorship for Artists

Also, regular TV and film marketing has become too costly for the small business owner. A 30 second spot on a national morning TV show goes for $16,000. But a small business owner can sponsor a whole Internet TV show for much less. Indie Sponsor’s goal is to bring the indie artist together with the small and large business community to provide funding for their projects. Indie artists’ voices need to be heard and talented artists will finally get their chance.

There has never been a better, more exciting time to be an artist as we enter a new artistic Renaissance. And Indie Sponsor wants to start the conversation. We can’t wait to see what you have to bring to the table.