• Jennifer Barnick

Failure! It Tastes Good, I Promise

Jennifer Barnick with Paintings

For most of my life, I have been a dedicated painter. I always loved writing and started to pen books and write poetry at eight. However, I always envisioned myself as a painter and making my career painting. Over time writing began to mean as much to me as painting, and I was always searching for a way to integrate the two. Twenty-two Twenty-eight is my way of integrating my love of writing and creating interesting visual images. Often when people discover that my road to wanting to start a publishing company and blog was through being a painter, they scratch their heads as if the lessons learned in art school would little prepare one to start a publishing company. Painting (and writing), I always argue, awesomely prepare you for entrepreneurship, because nothing involves failure more than creating something.

When I have the good fortune to be in the company of young people I love giving them honest, radical advice (that their parents overhear in horror). My favorites: “Always put your worst foot forward.” “Always go half-ass—let the Tao do the rest—as you’ll never be smart enough to know everything.” “Get really used to failing—walk into the room a failure—and you’ll leave with the best girl.” Embrace failure, hug and kiss failure—fail at romance, school, your job. Failure will draw out your innate creativity, humanity, and humility. Creativity, humanity, and humility are powerful forces. One must never underestimate them and never do they come out more when something you attempted blows up in your face. You will have to get creative to get out of the mess or fix the mess you created, and nothing will bust out your creativity more than the urgent need to either save your ego or save your life. You will quickly rediscover your humanity because no scale is better at giving you your true weight than failure, and it's good to know your true weight in life as it will better connect you to living (which will enhance your enjoyment of life). Being in touch with our genuine humanity allows us to be in touch with genuine reality. Lastly, failure instantly humbles us. Humility is a profound and powerful force. It helps peel away our judgment of others and a sense that we do not need others. In time, with enough failure, and enough lessening of judging others and realizing you sometimes need to ask for help, you will find you will actually not judge yourself as harshly and will feel a happier interconnection with humanity. Having a happy interconnection with humanity is a lot of fun. Don’t just think it’s about some horrible commune lifestyle. It’s more about finding friendship and jolly times everywhere you go. One of my favorite things to do is helping strangers find stuff they’ve misplaced like dropped key’s, sunglasses, and phones (things I lose all the time). It’s super fun; you get to say things like “pardon me” and “where did you last see them?”.

Painting is a great way to fail because the process of painting requires failure. Painting is a give and take process of awesome and horrible, and the necessity of reworking the painting until it is as close to awesome as it is ever going to be, or sometimes you realize you just have to abandon the project as a lost cause. If you ever check out a dumpster of a commercial building of artists’ studios, you will find tons of thrown out art. With that said, it isn’t about painting rather creation. The best way to fast track failure is to attempt to create something. It can be cooking, painting, starting a new company, writing a novel, or building a birdhouse. (I was actually banned from the woodworking center at my art school because of my constant failure in that area. It was mutually agreed upon that I was a danger to myself and others. While the student workers did the sawing and hammering, I was allowed to watch though only if I would stop talking and purchase lemonade and muffins for the crew.) Yes, failure comes at work, at love, and at any attempt at self-improvement; however, it is a guaranteed part of creating things. So my advice (to the young and old), is to chalk up those failures and set out on creating something.

Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.” You can follow Jennifer on her Instagram here.

Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.