Cup of Creative: Courtney Pilgrim on Failure
Courtney Pilgrim is hard to miss.
She pops with her vibrant style, joyful spirit, and a subtle yet striking splash of purple in her hair.
But Courtney Pilgrim often feels like she’s two different people. There’s Courtney, blogger and Instagram aficionado by night and weekend, and then there’s Miss P, an elementary school art teacher in the Atlanta area.
While she loves teaching art, she works hard to get her blog and social media presence to the point where she can leave her teaching days behind to become a full-time artist and blogger.
This past year, trusting her instincts more has been a real game changer for her and her creative endeavors, which is something she's worked really hard at doing.
While Courtney finds it hard to pinpoint one specific thing as her biggest failure, she felt that letting so many people influence her led to her delay in identifying herself as an artist.
Not coming from a family of artists, she had well-meaning parents who wanted her to be happy and who recognized her talent, but wanted her to choose something practical in college and in her career.
Outside influence came in the form of professors and friends when she got to college and by the time she graduated, she still didn’t know how to become an artist.
"If I could go back and do things a different way, I would have listened to myself more about making those decisions as an artist," Courtney said. "I wanted others to tell me what to do instead of trusting my instincts."
Even when it came to starting her blog, Courtney felt she was easily influenced by other bloggers and took to sticking to what she saw work for them rather than try and create content that worked for her and her intended audience.
Last year, she decided to start saying 'yes' to everything in the blogging world. From volunteering at blog networking events like the Maiedae Mixer to pitching to brands, she took every opportunity to get exposure and get herself out there to bring her vision of blogging full-time to life.
"You definitely have to go through that," Courtney said, "But then again, you have to stay true to yourself and your brand as well."
Now, Courtney's practicing when to say no.
While she's had many wonderful opportunities to work with brands, there have been a few here and there that didn't go so well. One brand left her feeling overworked, drained of her resources, and without any compensation.
After wasting her time (and health) over an opportunity that was going down hill, fast, she ended up walking away from the project, not willing to risk putting her name on something she knew she wouldn't be proud of doing.
These minor snags in her growth as an artist and blogger don't keep her down though. In fact, her growth on Instagram has been one of the most enjoyable and profitable parts of her freelance work.
(above: Courtney styles herself to reflect the art of Otto Dix for her On Wednesday We Wear Art series; photo by Chris Burden)
"Instagram is where it's at and sometimes, the opportunities that I'm getting just from Instagram are insane," Courtney said. "Telling me, when I was 14, that I would be making money off of pictures I took on my cell phone - it was a concept I wouldn't have been able to comprehend."
By trusting her instincts more, Courtney has started to witness her growth as a freelancer and is hopeful she'll be able to do it full-time by next year and works constantly to get to that goal.
"It takes a certain kind of person to hustle; I never stop working," Courtney said. "You’re always going to have failures along the way no matter what you do. The only way you find your path, and your happiness, and meet your goals, is by going through those and embracing them.”
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