The Art Biz ep. 95: What Your Failures Are Teaching You with Laura Petrovich-Cheney

Failure. We fear it. We ask, What if I fail?,  as if failure at one thing would mean the end of all other opportunities.

But failure is necessary for growth. If you are succeeding at everything, there is no way you're learning and growing. You're not taking enough risks.

Artist Laura Petrovich Cheney wood sculpture quilt | on Art Biz Success
©2021 Laura Petrovich-Cheney, Spinning My Wheels. Salvaged wood, 32 x 32 x 1 inches.

Laura Petrovich-Cheney is not afraid to fail. She's also ambitious and knows what she wants.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you'll hear Laura's philosophy that failure is the result of not listening to your instincts and not doing your best. This builds on what Leah Smithson was talking about in episode 94 when she said how important it was to listen to her gut to avoid what she called disasters.

We tend to sweep failures under the rug—hoping that nobody will see or notice and that we'll forget about them. But, as you'll hear from Laura, we can't improve without examining what went wrong.

Laura talks about a few failures she has learned from, why it's helpful to have a little bit of time and space before examining failures, and the shame that gets in the way of sharing failure with others. We also discuss the inevitable comparisons with other artists that arise when you fail and see only their successes.

Music by Wildermiss


  • Laura Petrovich-Cheney shares the artist journey that led her to embrace failure. (1:40)
  • Defining failure as a lack of listening to your intuition and not trying your best. (4:30)
  • The difference between failures and mistakes. (6:14)

    Artist Laura Petrovich Cheney at work on wood quilt | on Art Biz Success
    Laura Petrovich-Cheney in her studio.
  • The most productive timeline for examining your failures so you can learn from them. (11:45)
  • Success comes from learning to do something better. (15:05)
  • Compare rejection and failure—which one comes from within? (16:49)
  • At what point should you define an experience as a failure? (19:47)
  • Throw yourself a pity party, then let go and move on. (22:23)
  • Should you share your failures with other artists? (25:42)
  • Trying again, and again, and again, and knowing what to do better next time. (29:17)
  • Laura shares the lessons she has learned from failing so successfully. (32:43)
  • The benefit of asking others for help. (37:58)
  • What is currently holding Laura’s attention in the studio? (39:05)


Laura Petrovich-Cheney sculpture installation | on Art Biz Success
©Laura Petrovich-Cheney, Crazy Quilt 2018 installation at Chadron State College, Chadron Nebraska. Salvaged wood from natural disasters, 80 pieces each 12 x 12 inches (total 2 x 40 feet). Photographed by the artist on iPhone.


  • “Failure is primarily a lack of listening to your intuition.” — Laura Petrovich-Cheney
  • “If you really tried your best and you were only capable of a mediocre performance, that’s still your best.” — Laura Petrovich-Cheney
  • “Failing to learn from an experience is another failure.” — Alyson Stanfield
  • “In the failure, you learn how to do something better. And that sometimes is a bigger success.” — Laura Petrovich-Cheney
  • “Listening to your intuition and honoring who you are is so important to being successful.” — Laura Petrovich-Cheney

About My Guest

Laura Petrovich-Cheney is a contemporary sculptor working with salvaged wood collected after living through an environmental disaster. Photo of Laura Petrovich-Cheney | on Art Biz SuccessA former fashion designer and art educator, she is directly inspired by quilts and weavings. With her salvaged wood, she explores themes related to feminist identity, contemporary craft, and stories of loss and transformation.

She was a 2017 New Jersey Council on the Arts Fellow in Sculpture and  a 2021 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in Craft.

Follow Laura on Instagram: @laurapetrovichcheney

Music by Wildermiss

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