Artists: how do you judge the success of a show?

This was a question that was posed by one of my Facebook friends.  He is a successful retired professor and curator who regularly writes and curates shows.  

I found this idea so provocative because I actually stopped exhibiting in galleries in 2016 right after I retired from teaching and had my last exhibit at a community art center where I exhibited a graphic novel and the original art I made for it.  The art center paid all my expenses and I made several thousand dollars off of the sales of the graphic novel and some of the art in the show.  Literally hundreds of people attended the show and it got written about in the papers.  It was a success by most peoples' standards, yet, I feel like I've actually never had a show do more than really break even in terms of profit and the cost of putting the show together.

I have had shows, in commercial galleries, museums, and art centers, that looked like "successes" in the facts that I got great reviews, hundreds of people came to see it both at the reception and the time it was up and I've sold half or more the works but the cost financially and emotionally always felt like a balance or zero sum gain. Interestingly enough, both emotionally and financially I am incredibly happy selling my work directly to collectors both online and in person.

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