This week it was reported that UT-Austin has settled a 12 million dollar legal battle with the actor Ryan O'Neal over the ownership of an Andy Warhol painting of 70's star Farrah Fawcett, whom Ryan had a son with. Last November a Warhol painting sold for more than 100 million dollars. That nearly thirty years after his death Warhol's art commands such large sums is a testament to his perseverance.
You see when Andy was starting his career as a fine artist he was soundly rejected by every important gallery in New York and all the significant fine artists of his day. And this despite his success as a commercial artist. But while his whimsical commercial art was popular, his fine art was just too different than the norm at the time which was dominated by abstract expressionists.
Andy was embarrassed by much of himself. Embarrassed by his immigrant mother. Embarrassed by his baldness, his looks. He was sickly and a hypochondriac. Despite his shortcomings and insecurities, he was sure of one thing, that his art was important. He wore wigs to hide his baldness, but about his art, he didn't care about what anyone else thought.
This allowed him to have the perseverance and tenacity to buck the system. He found a small gallery run by a friend to host his art. Nothing sold. He didn't stop. When you have the drive to keep going despite the challenges of disappointment and adversity, you have the ability to accomplish great things.
This is not a posthumous award, as some great artists have only had. During their lifetime they were unappreciated, and only after death did their talent shine. No, Warhol turned the art world on its head in his own lifetime. His art caused people to think about the world around them differently, and the products and advertising that had become pervasive. His soup cans, and portraits of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and Liza Minelli became iconic of the era of the 60's.
If you want to succeed, you would do well to study people like Andy Warhol, to learn the art of perseverance. That one trait might just be the most important of them all.