The Meteoric Rise of 'THE FAILURE CV'

Failures Count.  I know, I’ve endured hundreds of them.  This post warms the cockles & reminds us that there is success in failure. In ‘failing’ we find the golden nuggets of what didn’t work - paving the way for what absolutely does.

The Meteoric Rise of The Failure CV, Bloom Creatively Blog by Samantha Barnes

In 2005 I did a show in South London.  My babies were tiny, my head was a mess and I spent £450 on a weekend show only to stand there, on my todd as everyone walked by.  I didn’t sell a single thing, didn’t gather any names for my mailing list and ate cake for an entire weekend. By the time Sunday evening rolled around I was full of cake (about £40 worth) and had to pack up every single item I took to the show to sell.  It was shit and I sobbed.

My nuggets?  I learned:

  • What to take to a sale - covering all the different price points

  • To take down names that might have been interested in my work if I had smiled and welcomed people into my stand more

  • Not to pay ANYONE else to work my stand with me

  • Not to pay for someone else to put my stand up (yup)

  • To research the arse out of any show I even think about doing

  • To invite my own clients along and bang the drum of any show I am attending

  • About some other good shows to do, having chatted with the other traders

  • To make my stand look gorgeous and think about my display before turning up

  • To take some serious knocks

Although this show was some 15 years ago now, I was reminded of it recently and it got me thinking:  if I hadn’t taken part in that excruciating exhibition, I wouldn’t have learned the list above.

My failure turned into my successes in my following shows.

Tough lessons.

So when I read recently about Professor Johannes Haushofer, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and his CV of Failures, I applauded.  

Although not his own original idea (see below for details) his CV states the Degree programmes he DIDN’T get into, Fellowships he WASN’T awarded along with Research Funding that he WAS REJECTED FOR.  Genius eh?

This man deserves an award for honesty and true reflection.  I love this idea. I love the idea of seeing all his gumption that lies in his trying for those things.  This to me, speaks volumes about him as a person.

A Failure CV allows us to see on paper what didn’t work, but what we worked our arses off for.  This deserves some recognition and a proverbial slap on the back.

I believe that the big guns are now seeing the true worth in these CV’s too - Facebook and other uber-forward thinking (I want to say businesses but am leaning towards the word communities) as well.

Like the show that reduced me to a sobbing mess and a very dented ego 15 years ago, I’m proud of myself for giving it a go and gathering up all those nuggets.

What do you believe you failed in?  Perhaps revisit it and see if you can find the gifts - it’s never too late to harvest those nuggets.


Melanie Stefan

Samantha Barnes Artist, BloomCreatively Blog

About Samantha:

Sam Barnes has been a practising artist for 25 years. Throughout her career she has had her own gallery, worked with hundreds of artists in making and marketing their own works and exhibited her own extensively. Her work has been successfully published & licensed many times. Sam is passionate about artists, makers and creatives earning a decent living from what they do. Our world needs new and beautiful things and artists deserve liveable incomes. Those two things are possible.

Sam writes from her first hand experience and occasionally works 1:1 with others.

Thanks to Nathan Dumlao of unsplash for the mug-shot above, literally!