What is success, anyway? To many people, success is how much money you make, while to others it might mean how many friends you have or what kind of art you created this morning. Ask people and you’ll find that there are plenty of answers to choose from. Ask Kanthi Kadayam Ananthagopal, the experiential designer from India and she’ll tell you that if you want success you should first define what success means to you. Once you have a pretty solid definition of what your success might look like then you will know for sure when you are veering off YOUR path or when or whether you have stopped growing. That’s just the first bit of sage advice Kanthi has for aspiring artists.
She has a firm grasp on all of this because she has succeeded in two different, yet creative careers. In India she was an architect and then she came to Los Angeles and traded her architectural drawing board in for one that lets her create virtual reality immersive experiences. She creates thought provoking virtual worlds within which the audience can interact with and manipulate or they can interact with other players. She creates unique and inviting environments that are storytelling driven and brings them to life. Her goal is to develop attractive digital worlds where the virtual and real come together. She is a community builder, in the digital and real sense, as her worlds do bring people together, and she makes very positive contributions to the evolution of world entertainment as we know of it today.
Her second piece of advice for aspiring artists and other beginners is to always make sure that you learn the fundamentals first. That is even better, she says, than being original. She strongly suggests that you just be good at first, very, very good. So good that they should wonder how they got along without you for so long. The third observation from Kanthi is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is truly where creativity blossoms. The last suggestion for newcomers is – even though no one will actually tell you this, enjoy your failures. They are stepping stones to success. Do you know how many failures Thomas Edison had before he succeeded with a lightbulb that worked? The most common answer attributed to Edison is a thousand failures. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail a thousand times, Edison responded: “I didn’t fail a thousand times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” That’s pretty close to what Kanthi means.