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?