Be Smart About Art

How do you create good luck?

written by: Susan Mumford March 19, 2017 Sunday blog - The art world in bite-sized stories 954 views

How do you create good luck?

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"You're so lucky."

I clearly remember once seeing this comment on Facebook, in response to a status update on a friend's personal profile. My friend, like me, hails from Arkansas, described on state license plates as "The Natural State." She'd upped sticks in her early twenties, leaving behind family and friends, and creating a life of her own in London. She'd eventually reached out to me as a fellow Arkansan in London (which trust me, is rare), and I helped her get into the art world. The work, however, was up to her, and she made a career for herself.

Is it lucky that she ended up in London? Was it down to luck that she landed a gallery job?

I recall that her Facebook post was an update about a cultural event she was attending. When someone she knew from back home in Arkansas said "you're so lucky," I practically had to physically hold myself back from responding. What would I have said?

"No, it's not luck. Our mutual friend has worked bloody hard and been penniless on many an occasion, in order to pursue her dreams. She left an easier life behind, having opted for the difficult path of going on her own into the big, wide world. Being able to attend the event is the result of her not taking the easy road."  

So then, what is luck? According to Merriam-Webster, luck is a "force that brings good fortune or adversity." And there's the ticket: luck does not only mean the 'good' variety, but the 'bad' kind, too.

While the Facebook friend's successes are visible to others, they normally don't see the many struggles that have to be overcome along the way. And this brings us to my own take on luck: by pursuing projects and the life of your own choosing, you create circumstances that seemingly result in good and bad luck alike.  

In today’s photograph, there is a blue stripe on a tree that perfectly matches the coat I was wearing. Was it lucky that I came across it? Perhaps, but Chris and I went for a walk in the woods consciously looking for photographic opportunities. It's only by going on a mini-adventure that I had the opportunity to come across the blue stripe, and then use it. And just like in my own experiences pursuing projects and businesses of my own choosing, I, too, have good and bad luck alike, however others are not often witness to both sides of the coin. What about the time I sprained my ankle going through the woods?

Whenever you think you're having too much bad luck, remember that its accompaniment is the good variety. It's the latter that not only will others see, but that you'll remember, too. Memory has a magical way of remembering the good, not the bad. Perhaps this is nature's way of encouraging to keep putting yourself out there, whether that's staging a local exhibition or upping sticks and going elsewhere altogether.  

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I am a week behind on this post, but YES! Every 'lucky' thing that's come along has been about being open, taking risks, listening to instincts and seizing opportunities. There have also been some bad luck things which I can tie to choices I've made and instincts I've not listened to, but even there I find silver linings that have led to where I am today. So, for me, luck is not only about being open to opportunities but about what we choose to emphasise when we tell the story afterwards ;)

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Your blog got me thinking... After graduating, I eschewed the secure comfort of a well-paid research position and took off to Jamaica to pursue a dream of running a scuba diving school, which I achieved - after a few years of striving, long hours, no holidays and no complaints - plus lot more (like helping to found a reef protection organization, training instructors and improving the lives of their families). A few years later, I changed to a more family-friendly occupation and followed my artistic passion, relentlessly. Twenty years later, I am back in the UK, as a professional artist and tutor. I've always thought I was 'lucky' to have such a wealth of tropical subject matter for inspiration for my paintings, talks and demos, but thinking on your words today, I see that it is a cumulation of all the choices and decisions I have made over the years... We are so quick to blame ourselves when things don't go well... maybe it would be fairer to give ourselves some credit for all that 'luck' that follows us around, too, in the lives we have created.
Thanks for your insightful words,

Susan

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Thank you for reminding me there is good and bad luck. Sometimes the bad seems to come in threes like buses and then I have to remind myself its step by step and day by day. I love your posts and so often hear what I need to hear. Louise

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Love the post and couldn't agree more - also love the photo!
Knowing one's luck is about looking out for the things that will help you and avoid possible things that may divert you.
I have included the website of one of the hats I wear since one of the reason we were able to start the Young Masters initiative had to do with "being at the right place right time" ! That was back in 2009 - 8 Years ago and we are now in the 4th edition. Being aware of all that is around made all the difference!