About 3 years back, I had a medical emergency.  I was given some antibiotics that I didn't know I was allergic to, and I had a really scary reaction.  

My throat closed up.  I couldn't get any air.  I was convinced that I was about to die.

Luckily, I had an epipen on hand, so I didn't die. (Unless I'm typing this to you from beyond the grave!)  No, seriously, I was fine practically the next day.

But it got me to thinking.  I had some things in my life I wasn't happy with.  I didn't like my job.  I was single, and I didn't want to be.  I wasn't treating my art seriously.

So I took steps.  A friend gave me a lead on my current day job, which I am much happier with.  I starting using OK Cupid like I was trying to date every single man in Philly. Now I have a wonderful partner and we've been together for almost 2 years.  

I started taking my art seriously.  I've had shows.  I curated a show.  I've sold work.  I feel like I can call myself a professional artist now.

So.  What's the next step?  I've been thinking about that a lot recently.  What does it mean to be successful as a fine artist?  What does it mean to me?

I think I had some idea in my head that some person would show up one day and give me a ribbon (like you win at the science fair) that says Artist.  In my head, this ribbon is blue.

I have wanted to be an artist since I was a very young child. Since I can remembered wanting to do anything when I grew up.  (This did not please my father.  I'll tell you about that some time.)

But I think I had a lot of underwear gnome logic involved in this Grown Up Artist fantasy.  It was Paintings/Make Art  + ???? = Famous Artist.

This is kid Ali, who has rad 80s hair, lives in Alabama and doesn't know stuff.  LOTS of stuff.

This is kid Ali, who has rad 80s hair, lives in Alabama and doesn't know stuff.  LOTS of stuff.

Plus, I didn't know the art market was hugely competitive, not really based on "talent" (whatever that actually means), and shrinking.

So I'm thinking about success.  And I think it means having more people see my work.  Having people want to buy my work.  Surrendering to the grind of it all and keeping everything moving forward.  Towards what, I'm not sure.