Artists reflect on Success – Art and Cake

Amanda Maciel Antunes


I define success by the ability to contribute to the visualization of the invisible, to communicate the incommunicable and define the elusive. My work is a layered and evolving process that often takes years to complete. I do not rely on any particular system to sustain my practice but my own labor and dedication to the process. I’ve always carried on side jobs as an artist, so I’d not put the very real pressure of survival on my art. It’s like watching a forest grow from the burned ashes of the season’s fires. They succeed because they have been nourished, given water, and air and soil to breathe again. Success is a type of growth that comes in seasons for me, revealing very personal experiences, paradoxes and dreams. 

Artist Bio:

Amanda Maciel Antunes (aka dama) is a self-taught Brazilian artist based in Los Angeles. Her transdisciplinary practice merges language and durational performance to create paintings, sculpture, sound, film and assemblage. She works in collaboration with public libraries, nature and communal spaces as points of departure for ritual and process, reflecting on the selective nature of memory, inherent language and anthropological references.
@ amandamacielantunes

A. Laura Brody

Laura and Melusine headshot

Success is such a loaded word. For a long time I felt that it was unachievable, meant for others and not me. I didn’t believe it was possible to get there no matter how hard I worked or how much I tried. That came from a conventional idea of success, that notion of being rich and famous and perfectly satisfied with life. That didn’t seem real, and it still doesn’t. Who is ever perfectly satisfied with their life? I also thought I would know what success looked like if I got there. Later on I realized that in some ways I had already achieved success and didn’t recognize it. That didn’t matter when the success took forms that fit other people’s standards. Success is a shape shifter and inherently personal and human nature means that if we have desires we are rarely satisfied for long, no matter what level we reach.

In some ways I am dramatically unsuccessful and vastly underprepared for adult life, at least in terms of retirement savings and financial security. In other ways I am successful beyond my wildest imaginings. My 20, 30, or even 40 year old self could not have fathomed the directions I would take or how far I’ve come. The past dozen years have taken such a dramatic turn away from the career trajectory I expected, and those shifts have come with achievements that I had no idea I wanted. And there is still more that I want to build and create and develop with others. I stumble my way through new technologies and pathways and creative growth and somehow find wondrously kind, supportive, and generous people who teach me to grow further.

If that’s not success, I don’t know what is.

A. Laura Brody is a professional costume maker, designer, artist, and educator. Her profession and passion for reuse gave her the skills needed to turn wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility scooters into sculptural works of art. She believes strongly in reuse, sustainability, social justice, and re-imagining disability. Brody’s art has been shown at ACE/121 Gallery, Brea Gallery, the Charles River Museum of Industry, Westbeth Center for the Arts, California State University Northridge, Gallery Expo, the Dora Stern Gallery at Arts Unbound, Ikouii Creative, Art Share LA, and The World of Wearable Art.

Believing that disability should not mean a loss of beauty lead her to develop “Opulent Mobility”, a series of group exhibits comprised of art, designs, and creations dealing with and reflecting on disability and mobility. Opulent Mobility started in 2013 as a small show at the Bell Arts Factory in Ventura and since then has grown to become an international exhibition. The exhibits have been featured in the Improvised Life, Shoutout LA, and on Frances Anderton’s radio program DnA. The 2015-2022 exhibits were co-curated by the disability activist and photographer Anthony Tusler. Opulent Mobility 2022 is online at


Camilla taylor

Photo by Tony Pinto of Taylor in their garden, Metamorphosis, ceramic and olive branches, 2023, installed at Track 16 Gallery

I used to have a very clear idea of what success was. To be a successful artist meant that you were able to make the majority of your income from making and selling artwork, or art related activities like speaking engagements. That’s sort of the dream I think we’re sold by media depictions of artists, the possibility of being able to survive on a dedication to art. But I’ve aged and come to know artists who I thought had attained this, and came to realize how few of them actually had. Most of the artists who I had thought were able to live off of their art alone were supplementing their income with other activities: teaching, technical work for other artists, or simply just having some non-art related job that made art making possible.

I could give a definition less closely related to financial stability, that success should not come from external validation, but I don’t think that’s what people mean when they use the word ‘success.’ We don’t talk about success in other professions as gauged by how fulfilled someone is by it. I’ve come to believe that success as an artist is a near unattainable goal and the search for it is often damaging to the artist and the artwork they make. Artwork can be successful, artwork can achieve a clear goal, but I don’t think that individual artists can be. I’m not a fixed point: every goal I’ve achieved just gives me greater visibility of what I still have yet to accomplish.

I don’t really have a definition of success as an artist.

Camilla Taylor is an artist who lives in Los Angeles with their partner and three cats.