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Failure is always an option

In the movie Apollo 13, Gene Kranz, the Flight Director, asserts that “Failure is not an option!”. It isn’t clear whether he actually said that, but he certainly believed it.

For me, as an artist, the opposite is true. Failure is always an option.

I was working on a plate for a new print this afternoon, which was actually going quite well. Good strong image, I think. But, behind the safety glasses and the ear protection, my mind is going on about this and that, as well as concentrating on what I was doing (funny, how your mind can do that.. at least mine does). I got to thinking about various works that have just never progressed to completion. Sometimes, it is just being stuck. Other times, despite liking parts of the print, it just never quite hangs together to my satisfaction. It is, at least for the present, a failure.

I am ok with that.

So I put the plates to the side and start something new. I think it is possible for a work to become too precious. You can get sucked into it. You start thinking ‘I have put too much time into this, I have to finish it!’ But you really don’t. Better to drop it than put out something that is less than what you know it should be.

I have even reneged on a completed edition or two. Looking at it later, I decide that I really don’t like it all that much. So it comes off of the web site, and disappears into what I call the ‘Oh no zone’.

To paraphrase, He who fails and walks away, gets to fail again some day…

… and his art will be better for it.

About the Author:

Dean Russell Thompson is an Artist and Printmaker working in Loveland, CO.