Your journey doesn’t need luck – it needs hard work

This blog is part of my “Ask The Artist” series and in this particular article I want to address your attitude towards what you do. This question stems from the feedback I’ve had on social media and emails from fellow artists.

I’m always flattered to get emails from other artists and I’m always happy to answer questions. If you’re sitting there thinking “Oh I really like what you do” or similar things like that.

But what annoys me beyond belief is, when I put pictures out on social media of my work and gallery space and people say “oh you’re so lucky to have a space like that”.

I am NOT lucky

We work in nearly 6000 square foot of space which, 7 years ago, used to be derelict. I looked around for studios, I started off looking at small studios and I had to fund that.  At that time, I had a terrible job which I hated and that wasn’t paying me much. I won’t go into my life story here because you can read that elsewhere.

The bottom line is this; this studio was a wreck for 3 or 4 years. As I started to make money I started to do it up.  Having a place like this is not luck and I get really angry with people who suggest this is born out of luck. Swarez-the-abstract-artist

I’ve had no luck and I’ve had to negotiate leases, I’ve never done that before.

I had to give up a job with no money to live off, I’ve never done that before.

I had to be so committed to my own self belief that this was actually going to go somewhere and was going to be my livelihood that I was actually willing to give everything up.

And when I say give everything up I mean I had to give up a social life because that just stopped. I was in rented accommodation and I didn’t have a partner to support me. I started from rock bottom.

The only two things I had were relentlessness and determination. I worked my way up. I will not let anybody tell me that I “can’t” do anything. So having a studio like mine, it’s not about luck.

There is no luck in this. I made the phone calls. I sent the emails. I negotiated the lease. I started a limited company and then I found an accountant. Ady came along in the business when the business could sustain it.

The Secret To The Entire Operation

Where all this actually comes from, and what it is really born out of, is the fact that when I have a problem I find a solution – no matter how complicated or difficult that may be.

Much of what I have now, the studio, the website, the whole operation – the secret to it all – is having a problem and finding a solution. The bit in between is whether you can be bothered to find it. throwing paint around

Me and Ady face this every single day.  We come up against a problem, we find a solution.

You need to ask yourself “can I find a solution to my problem?” Think of it like a ladder. The problem is at the bottom and the solution is at the top.

Between the problem and the solution are a number of rungs and you’ve got to take steps to work your way from one end to the other.  It might be five steps it might be fifty.  It’s not about luck, it’s about figuring out the steps.

Creating the right attitude

Damien Hirst has a studio just down the road from us.  An internationally recognised artist whose work sells for millions of pounds. There is no difference between him and us so there is no reason we can’t have what he’s got and that’s our mentality. Steve Jobs said “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who end up doing it”. Swarez with a black and white abstract painting

I’m not saying that our art is going to change the world but we have big ambitions and why shouldn’t we? If you think you can’t do it, you’re probably right. If you think you can then you need to get on and do it. Take a look at Shia LaBeouf’s motivational video that we particularly enjoyed in the studio recently.

There is only one attitude to have and that is to just do it. Watch Star Wars, listen to Yoda, “try not, do or do not, there is no try”. Our whole operation, me and Ady and a website, (selling independently of galleries I might add) is a direct result of our determination and relentless. I’m not suggesting you try and work a 90 hour week but be smart about it.

Stand on your own two feet

Be willing to solve your own problems. If you can’t raise the questions you can’t begin to solve the problems.  Figure out what you need to do and do it. Change the way you behave. Change your attitude, change your approach. Swarez the abstract artist

You can change absolutely everything about your world, art-related or not, if you change your perspective and if you look at things differently. If you cannot identify the questions you need to ask and then go look for an answer then give up – but do not say “oh you’re so lucky” because my success has nothing to do with luck.

There is no-one bankrolling us. We don’t fall out of bed and into our studio, just slop a bit paint around and then go off to the pub for four hours. I wish. You have no idea the work that goes into it.   Be absolutely fucking relentless with everything.

If you know what the questions are that you need to ask and you’re ready to start finding the solutions then by all means drop us an email and ask the question. But don’t ask us how we got lucky.

You can watch the video on this on my YouTube Channel here.

4 replies
  1. Cathy says:

    Refreshing bit of no nonsense straight talking, great to read and good for everyone who needs reminding of the basic requirements in making the most of their ability .👍
    Well done, good luck to you guys..(not that luck’s involved)

  2. Malcolm Dewey says:

    Bravo Ed. I hope that this entire crisis resets artist’s attitudes and gets them motivated to take control of their careers. Of course it will take hard work – thanks for saying that in clear terms. It is not a case doing the minimum effort and hoping for success. It takes proper hard work and guts and then maybe you will “catch a break” Keep it up!


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