Maria Brophy


  • and make good money doing it!

    ‘Strategies for a Successful Art Business!’
Art Marketing / business of art / Motivation / Philosophy

When is it time to Quit – Throwing in the Towel

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Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.  The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”  ~Earl Nightingale

An artist friend sent me this two-part question, which is a GREAT topic to cover:

1.)     Was there ever a point in Drew’s career where he felt like throwing in the towel?  and:

2.)    The impressive companies that he’s worked with on listed on his website; did they come to you or did you seek them out?

You would think that these are two separate topics, but they actually mold into one – stay with me on this article and you’ll see what I mean.


Should you continue on when it gets hard, or do you throw in the towel and quit?

At least once a week I threaten to quit and go get a “real job!”  But then I remember how much I love doing what I do…

Being an entrepreneur can be grueling and exhausting.  Instead of a steady paycheck , you have to hustle to earn your pay.  There are times when business is dry and you have to push through it without freaking out about how you’ll pay your studio rent!

Take for example January and February, the two slowest months for our art business each year.  I used to stress out over the lack of cash flowing in those months, but now that we’ve been at it for over a decade, I’m accustomed to the roller coaster.  I know that everything is going to work out just fine.

There are times that everything goes wrong:  ten out of the ten phone calls you made to prospects were duds, a big deal you were counting on fell through, or a client stiffed you on payment.

These are the things that make us want to “throw in the towel”, call it quits, go get a real job.

But if you can push through the difficult times, and stay on a steady, consistent path, you will come out the other side and find success.

To become known as the expert of your trade takes years of commitment. And even the most successful people have to deal with challenges.  Business isn’t a cake-walk for anyone.

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”  ~Newt Gingrich

I asked Drew if he ever thought of throwing in the towel (though I knew the answer already!) and he said:

“Have I ever wanted to throw in the towel?  All the time!  Sometimes I think I should have been a landscaper instead.

It’s hard, being an artist.   Most days I have to hustle, like I’m on a treadmill.

But, I love painting for a living.  It pays off in different currencies. I can surf anytime the waves are good.  I travel anytime I want to.  Every morning I get to walk my son to his classroom.  He will always remember that.”

Don’t quit if you LOVE what you’re doing.

As an entrepreneur, you are paid in different currencies;

Time, ability to be creative, and the freedom to design your own life.  (That’s what keeps me going on this path.)


It’s time to quit when you really don’t love what you’re doing anymore.  Not meaning that you’re having a bad week; but that your heart isn’t in it anymore.  Or maybe it never was.

This isn’t only good advice for entrepreneurs, but for employees, too.

If you don’t love it, get out.


Being able to work with great, big clients comes down to these things:

  • Great Reputation
  • Known for Reliability
  • Ability to Solve problems
  • Being good at what you do

You reach the status of all of the above by staying on a consistent path.

The better clients, the best paying ones, COME TO YOU when you have a reputation for being reliable and for getting things done, for being great to work with and being damn good at what you do.

You gained this reputation because you’ve been doing it for a long time.  You got good from doing it for a long time.  The reputation came from pleasing many clients for a long time.

You got there because you never threw in the towel.

You kept doing what you do best, and you got better and better at it.

You became known for being the guy (or gal) who does that thing you do, extremely well.

And you got that reputation because you’ve been doing it for so long.

Doing it for so long meant never quitting, even when it got tough.

And that allowed you to get really good, and build up a reputation.

And the big clients come to you like a magnet.

Does that make sense?

In other words, once you become that guy (or gal) who’s got the reputation because you’ve been doing it very well for a long time, the big companies and clients come to you.

Your time spent making phone calls to potential clients is less and less.  Because they’re coming to you.

They come to you because you’ve been at it for a long time.

You never threw in the towel.

You are consistent.

I’m beating a dead horse, but that’s the key to getting big name clients to come to you.

Stay on a consistent path, keep doing that thing you do, and you’ll become great at it and you’ll become known for it.

(And don’t forget how important integrity is…)

Maria xxoo

ARTWORK CREDIT:  The fun, energetic artwork at the top is by my dear friend, artist Al McWhite, who never quit, and is an excellent example of perseverance and “staying on a consistent path”.

Don’t be discouraged.  It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.”  ~Author Unknown


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18 Comments When is it time to Quit – Throwing in the Towel

  1. linda

    Love what Drew said about how you get paid in different currencies! So true and I think sometimes we take certain things for granted. The freedom to design our own lives…that is the greatest thing!

    1. Maria Brophy

      Thanks for commenting, Linda. The currencies we are paid in: Money, or time, or Love, or Joy, or sometimes all of the above…. I know people who make a lot of money but have no time for the things they really care about. My favorite currency is Freedom to do what I want, anytime!

  2. kara rane

    You did it again (inspiration!! + sage advice).
    I have “thrown in the towel” many times,,, but I keep reaching IN and picking it back UP.

    1. Maria Brophy

      Kara – I love what you wrote – “I have thrown in the towel many times…but I keep reaching in and picking it back up” – awesome quote! I’ll be tweeting that one!

  3. Kelley

    Great post. Had to share it. For close to 15 years I wrote fiction, and finally had one book published and got an agent. But by that point, though I still loved stories, and I still love to read, I no longer enjoyed the fiction writing process. Who knows, maybe I’ll catch the fiction writing bug again, but for now I love my new creative life–making jewelry and art and combining the two. Definitely not always easy, especially during those slow times, and I’m still trying to grow Kell’s Creations, but I am much happier!

  4. Indigene

    You always come through like a sage warrior, when I need it most! I now have a total girl crush forever! Lol! I’ve everything I need now you and my husband as a support group. I’m good! 🙂 Thank you for your continued wisdom.

  5. Charles Ott

    Great post once again Maria! We have all at some point considered throwing in the towel and that likely goes for not only artists but anyone really. I have been fortunate to have a strong network of family & friends who have constantly supported my artistic endeavors over the years and that contributes to an artists’ success. On occasion though you will come across those individuals who will do everything to degrade you or to make you feel worthless by saying things like “you’ll never be famous” or “just give it up”. Toss those people to the side and surround yourself with positive people, everyone deserves a little respect. The same can be said for your endeavors as an artist. Challenge yourself & make every effort to make your goals turn into reality. Whether it is online or meeting with those affiliated with your style & line of work, make it happen. Nothing comes easy, so go out there & make it happen, be patient, but have the fortitude & perseverance. Until you’ve reached your lowest of lows only then will you savor your highest of highs. Here’s a little quote from a local baseball player who was diagnosed with cancer. His name was John Challis & he was featured on ESPN. Courage+Believe=Life Everyday is a blessing, like the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean of the San Clemente pier. Appreciate your talents as an artist & never put down that pen, pencil or paintbrush. Keep creating & stay inspired & good things will come your way when you least expect it.

  6. Archan Mehta

    Nice post, as usual, Spunky. You are a lengend that rocks.

    Drew has been in this game for the longest time. With your support, both of you have gone places. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

    You guys have had your fair share of setbacks, but you kept on going. You decided to travel by a different road. You took the moral high ground even when nobody else was watching.

    True north has been your saving grace. There have been so many ups and downs, but you never gave up and never gave in to temptations.

    You are an inspiration. So many artists give up because they feel life is unfair and circumstances are beyond their control.

    There have been cases where creative people fell prey to drugs, alcohol and the local madame’s house of horrors. Many have committed suicide or find themselves doing time. All because they decided to give up too soon and throw in the towel.

    Your post serves as a reminder to such people not to waste their talent. Don’t give up until you reach the finish line and win the contest.


  7. Maria Brophy

    Wow, thanks everyone for the amazing comments!

    And, Archan, though we haven’t fallen prey to drug addiction, I have to say, “the finish line at the end of each big project has some great red wine a waiting for us…”

    There’s never an actual finish line, though. It’ll never be done, I will die with my in-box completely full!

    1. Christina

      I am an artist, and I was married to one. I gave up and threw in the towel to rehabilitate him through tough times and raise our boys on my own. Took odd jobs, and still never lost sight of the goal. The marriage is over. He never accepted rehabilitation, and my children and me take care of ourselves. I work for public service now, however I express my art by writing for the state. I suppose I never gave up the towel. I just shaped that towel differently so I could mold and shape my creative energies a different way. Plan to use that experience for private sector helping others. Sometimes it looks like you threw in towel towel when you really just found a new direction for your artistic endeavors to be utilized. Hope everyone gets to read my books soon. working on them.

  8. Jennifer Ressmann


    Oh my gosh – this made me laugh right out loud! …

    “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” ~Newt Gingrich

    “Have I ever wanted to throw in the towel? All the time! Sometimes I think I should have been a landscaper instead.

    I’ve always appreciated your words of wisdom and It’s nice to hear from behind the scenes. Thank you.

    Sometimes I think of careers the same way as a good marriage. The commitment is what keeps it together so you battle through whatever part of it you don’t like – boredom, frustration, whatever. And, for some, your heart might go, but if you stick around, it will come back. It’s ok. There are ups and downs.

    “I quit, I’m otta here!!… See ya tomorrow!”

  9. Franziska San Pedro

    Hi Maria,
    I am now only four months into the full-time art business working from home and there was this one day, thinking of getting back to working as an Exec. Chef. After I looked at the options and looking at potential grand hotels as employers, it took maybe one hour and I was back in my studio 🙂

    When is the right time to start doing what you love? It always is and for the some reason, everything always works out and falls into place nicely.

    Thanks for this nice post and reminding me that I am now doing something I love 100% rather than 75%,

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

  10. Laura Beardsell-Moore

    Thanks for this post, Maria. It’s so important to do what you love but it can be hard to keep going at it when you have a low patch and think you’re not getting anywhere.

    Making sure there is enough income to keep you going over those slumps takes some planning, but, if you can ride out the dry times then it’s worth it in the end.

    It’s so true about being paid in different currencies too! People try to give everything a financial value now, but most of the time, that turns out to be a pretty limited way to measure things.

  11. Pingback: 10 Principles for an Artists Success | 10 Success Principles for Artists - Maria Brophy

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