What Does Success as an Artist Look Like? - Interview III with Pau Quintanajornet

Pau Quintanajornet - Artist & Artivista in Progress

What are your thoughts on fame in the arts?

… Fame in the arts …

In my very personal opinion, concepts like fame or success are a two way street. Who defines what is fame or success? My experience so far is that there are two worlds out there: the ART WORLD and the ART MARKET … When you try to observe them from a healthy distance both focus on something completely different. That makes it tricky because both, if they want it or not, need each other to succeed.

For me as an artist the Art World is the world in which I create, I feel and I try to digest all the things around me – trying to explain the world to myself – trying to understand why things are the way they are. The Art World also means sitting sometimes frustrated at home in my studio and having doubts about absolutely everything; to feel this endless urge of reconnecting with each line I draw or the message I want to send each time I finish one piece. The intense feeling of joy when you are able to meet people of the same breed – creative minds who show you their perspective .

The Art Market on the other hand, represents for me a kind of outside world, where the artist has to leave his or her bubble and needs to learn the rules of the game of this “other world”. That’s why sometimes fame or success in the Art World does not necessarily translate into the parameters of the World of The Art Market and the other way around.  

Both are valid and both are necessary. But at the end of the day, what really sustains the creative work is not the label of “fame” but how you and your work as an artist reflect your deepest core as a human being. How does your art reflect the human condition and how do you deal with this big responsibility? Can you watch yourself in the mirror and say: Yes, today was a good day – Yes, I have integrity and Yes, I believe in what I am doing!

What is your approach to rejection as a site of success?

In the arts we deal with a lot of Ego Issues because it’s a very personal workspace. The fun part is : The moment in which we have to stand vulnerable next to our creation in front of an unknown and critical audience, who without knowing you and your recent personal progress, starts to evaluate what you did. Rejection is just a natural part of the artistic process. It is a perfect exercise to trim your ego – and respect the concept of vulnerability – accept the fear of failure and keep growing. With the years you learn to understand the sweet nuances of rejection and steps of personal growth that help you to keep moving – fearlessly.

Any thoughts on income and financial stability and success?

People always ask me if I can live from what I am doing. This question feels always strange, because most of the time I need to explain beforehand that financial stability is not a priority for me personally. The moment I committed to this way of life I knew that one of the “side effects” could be jumping from one project to another. “Living from what I am doing” is not my quest, instead my main focus is that I live what I am doing as this is my life. There is no alternative for me as creating and focusing my energies and thoughts about our world through my art.

Of course it is sometimes scary but you learn to deal with it over the years . You also learn that there are real priorities and imposed priorities. The beauty of this lifelong journey is that you get the tremendous opportunity to get to know the real you with all its flaws and all its magic. I gain stability when I feel centered and reflected in my work and with the people around me.

Living this way means to be honest to yourself, to find out what you really need and focus on what you deeply want and than go for it wholeheartedly. If you do not believe in this – why and how should someone else?

Pau at work covered in color. Image Courtesy of the artist

Pau at work covered in color. Image Courtesy of the artist

How do you define success in the arts?

Success in the arts is a long-term-run … personally I have the impression that you cannot define success after a short period. It is a constant progress, a constant questioning – a growth in flux. You have to develop the capacity to reflect your personal growth in each artwork – to step beside and question it again and again. It is important to calm the restlessness that pops up sometimes and makes you doubt on so many levels. Success in the arts for me is, when you feel capable of to confront doubts and turn them into a colorful celebration of life lessons; to not give in to the believe that you have to prove something to society anymore; when your able to protect your inner child to express herself.

Do you have role models for success and who are they?

I admire people because of their passion, creativity and integrity, their good sense of humor and empathy in moments of darkness. People fearless to show their open hearts and willing to share their words of wisdom. They possess something so powerful – a tool – that is able to combat any mediocrity which crosses their way.

Which advice on success would you give your 18-year-old self?

My dear 18 year-old me: I know that you struggle with endless questions on your mind. I know that you want an absolute and timeless answer for everything – here and now. I know. And I know that you would love to be ready to conquer the world. But, take your time – breathe. Never fear your decisions, but also live with the power of their consequences. Never stop listen to the beat of your inner drum. Find your dance and talk as much as you can to your inner child. Experience love in all its levels and nuances – do not fear the power of pure love – it will be your guardian – and do not fear heartbreaks – you have a strong loving heart it can handle it – no worries. Use your restlessness and channel these energies to evolve as human being: as woman,  as an artist, as an artivista. Ask questions, all the questions you want. Learn to listen and to observe. Learn to enjoy the silence and when it is necessary break the rules – break paradigms – raise your voice and ask questions again. Be a tender force of change. Use your art as a weapon to heal yourself and others. Never loose your connection to your roots – honor them because they made you with all their love. Never fear to use your wings, which your parents gave you; you have them for a reason and they are strong and they want you to use them as much as possible. Convince yourself that the Sky is the goal but never the limit.

Your thoughts on success in the arts and race/ gender

The gender and race question … Well, when I started with art as my lifetime project I was in the middle of my teenage years – strong and intense years … So many questions, especially because of my past and all this puzzle pieces that I tried to connect and assemble into one image over the years of my childhood. My deepest wish back then was to find a way to decode my identity. Who was I? Paulina Andrea Quintana Jornet: Daughter of political refugees. The kid that grew up in Chile, in Buenos Aires, in Eastern Germany, in Western Germany, in Germany. The Teenager who left home to find her answers in the big city of Berlin. The concepts didn't feel right: The "Chilena" – The “German” – The Ossi – The Foreigner– The Immigrant - The Sudaka – The Latina – The European – the World Citizen, and so on. All these labels were imposed by others in their need to make me fit or exclude, none of them have been my choice. And with each label came an image, an expectation sometimes feeling like a stigma and sometimes as a surprise. The only way I could process all the feelings connected to this was through the Arts. The Arts became my first love and never left me again.  It became my lover, my soul buddy, that helped me to express and to create a new cosmos. My cosmos, with my labels and my definitions.

Falling in love with Muralismo was my way to find my place in this world. A huge canvas in form of a wall, with its own patina, with its past and textures waiting for me to create something on it.  Muralismo, Street Art or Urban Art – call it however you want - gave me the tools to understand this: I am soul in a body that needs to create. I am a woman that defines herself through her vision of the world.

Pau Quintanajornet

P A U Quintanajornet, first thought as a nickname for Paulina during my travels in Chile became quickly my real new name everywhere. Pau is considered a male name in Spain and means in Catalan Peace. All of this defines me. Peace because this name gave me that – it gave me my identity in this world. I found peace by creating and so using my tools to rethink the concept of life. I honor both energies, male and female, because both are part of me. They are my Ying and Yang. They are the pillars of my cosmos. By accepting this I can honor the presence of my ancestors and the energies of my parents, who made me in the first place. These are my roots. I believe in the principle of duality as the highest concepts of them all. That’s why it is impossible to define my success in the arts through gender theories; it does not work for me, because this would mean that I limit myself to just one thing  – one label.

Where to find Pau

Social Media Instagram & Facebook

Visit her Homepage for more information.

Her long-term social art project wallflowers

Pau's transnational online campaign and part of Project Wallflowers. Stay with Humanity

Her photographic journey Entre Plumas y Vuelos

I would love to hear your thoughts on what success in the arts looks like for you. Comment below or share via social media with #ArtAsLabor