Recent education reform efforts utilize standardized tests and current assessments measure binary results: pass or fail. However, innovation, discovery, critical thinking and design all have experimentation, testing, and failure as essential components of their process. The purpose of this investigation was to explore how visual art teachers define, address, and use failure in their classrooms. Structured interviews with six K-12 art teachers were analyzed for common themes that addressed (1) the ways in which students and teachers assess failure in the art classroom; (2) how extrinsic and intrinsic motivation affect success and failure; and (3) how effort and ability affect student success and failure. Art teachers reported a number of factors - both intrinsic and extrinsic - that affected student motivation, effort, confidence and their opinion on the outcome of a project. Future research should consider alternative assessment methods that enable art teachers to document student failure and success as processes as opposed to endpoints.