I recently read a magazine article where the interviewed photographer equated his goals with those of athletes, that is, winning a championship. Having had some success in competitions, I have felt the satisfaction that comes with being recognized among the best image makers. But the idea of creativity being measured as we would winning a World Series, Olympic gold, or some other sports pinnacle, is not useful to me. I also don’t believe the metaphor even applies. There is no reasonable way to quantify the differences between artwork in a way analogous to batting average, or track speed. One could objectively measure artistic success by how much money was made, how many of a particular award was won, how many museum shows were achieved. But these measures too have elements of subjectivity associated with them.
Maybe more importantly, art is not something one should engage in for the purpose of “winning” something. Success has many definitions. But for me success has only one, being able to continue creating and living the life of a full-time artist. Something I’ve been doing in my way for 20 years now. This “success” has been possible not because I’ve competed with others, or won “championships.” My success has come about through the daily activity of engaging with everyday esthetic experiences and creating based on my emotional response to those little events. In fact I am very happy to totally reject the sports metaphor. For me, art isn’t the score at the end of a game, it is the score at the end of a life. The game continues until I’m off the field. At that point, I’ve already won.