Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident. You simply just can’t sit and wait around for inspiration to strike if you want your art to become your career. This process is what separates the hobbyist from the professional; it is what gives you the room to grow while avoiding the very common erratic nature of many creatives.
So you are an artist and you are hungry for success. You can’t just wait to be up there as a legend in your niche. If you want to know all that it takes, and how to do all it takes to be successful, you should definitely read this to the end and a few times over.
Let’s begin with a reminder that there is never enough time, not enough money, not enough confidence, not enough of whatever it is at that moment to make you a successful artist.
So what do you do?
Ever heard of the phrase use what you have to get what you want? This is your key. You must take whatever is available to you at any moment in time and make it work for you. You must find the opportunity to succeed with whatever amount of money and time that is available to you. In essence, you must find your unique style for success and make it work for you. But make no mistake, the process is a big part of being a creator and you need to develop one.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s move on with our tips to becoming a successful creative. To become a successful artist, there are a few questions you should be able to answer. The answers to these questions set you on your path to success.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Many consider only monetary success but there is more to success than money. Success comes in different ways and it is up to you to decide where you see yourself as a successful person. Defining your success only around money can be very disadvantageous, as you could lose interest once the money isn’t coming in as you would have expected. On the other hand, placing your success on other things outside money helps you keep focus and money becomes just a bonus for doing something you love.
Who are you?
To be separate from the crowd, you need to be able to explain clearly who you are, what you are doing, and why people should care.
To that end, you need to have a dream for your work and a goal where you hope it will take people. You have to build your voice. This self-awareness and thoughtfulness will eventually inform everything from the approach of your work to its promotion.
Once you have been able to answer these questions, the process becomes a lot easier. However, you still need to do a bit more to become successful.
One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power (Tony Robbins). Creators seldom lack the items they wish to create.
But the overwhelming creative drive can make it hard to concentrate your output in a way that best serves you. You drift from project to project, hop at any new bit of inspiration, and this is in no way helpful.
Avoid spreading yourself too thin. It’s important to keep your focus. Diversifying as an artist doesn’t necessarily mean multi-genre expansion. In fact, remaining focused and niched in your style, so your artwork is branded and recognizable, is greatly beneficial.
Develop your Goals
Stop concentrating on the now, and focus on the future. In our daily lives, we become so consumed that we forget about the future. We are fixed on working on today without having to think about tomorrow. The truth is when you realize there is no job coming tomorrow, that’s when you start panicking. Make sure that you plan your next month and your coming year at least an hour per week. Work towards your goals and how to achieve them. Positive reinforcement on your goals will get you there. It may sound crazy but if you picture yourself at where you want to be eventually you will get there. It is so simple.
Surround Yourself with Heroes
Successful innovators are aware that they cannot do it by themselves. The people who surround them are just as important to make them a success. That is why they make sure collaboration is a priority.
However it’s achieved, effective people are impacted by others who inspire them.
To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities (Bruce Lee). There’s a fair chance that you’ve been pursuing a creative career at least partially because you have little interest in business. That’s great, but you’re not going to have a good artistic career unless you recognize that business is an integral part of being an artist.
Identify and Grow your Audience
Most creators do not have a clue who their audience is. Your audience isn’t just everyone. If you’re a comedian it’s not fans of comedy and if you’re a musician it’s not fans of music.
Your audience, the audience for which you will need to find and communicate to develop a productive career, are your own fans. The people who love what you do. These are the people you must focus on.
Being a legitimate artist is an important facet of becoming an artist. No one likes to pay taxes, have to file a sales tax return, or renew licenses, but guess what? That is the difference between having a lucrative hobby and actually owning a business. And god forbid any crazy person tries to sue you- just get your company legal and you’re not going to regret it! It brings peace of mind, credibility, and authority in your industry, and frankly, it is a sign of your professionalism to clients.
Take a Break
Sure, even when you don’t want to work, you need to show up to the studio. But, you must also know when to leave, and when to take the time to take care of your body, health, and emotional and social well-being.
We’ve all seen artists suffer in the name of their arts. But, to build your job, you need your body at the most healthy levels. Successful artists should understand that their success is a marathon and not a sprint, so you need to maintain your health to stay in the game.
Just as there are things successful artists do, there are also many things which they do not do. Here are a few things successful artists never do
They Never Discredit Themselves
All your life, you’ve probably just been brimming with ideas that you’ve really believed you could make happen. There were no limiting thoughts based on age, level of experience, how the world works, or anything else. But as adults, many of us shoot down our ideas too quickly. It’s never going to work. I don’t know how to go about it. That is going to take way too long.
The thing is, in those crazy ideas lie the most successful of innovations. And the people who manage to realize these revolutionary advances do so because they allow themselves to believe that a crazy idea can be a reality.
Take Musk, now one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of electric cars (Tesla) and most innovative aerospace companies
They Never Compete
As with many collaborations, a key part of any relationship’s success is mutual respect, and a non-competitive spirit. Anything that we do together is always a lot easier. If a project is not going well in partnership with another artist, you should learn to recognize quickly that it has to change to make it better. You should be constantly open to ways to improve stuff and improve rather than merely defending your own position.
They Never Think They Know it All
While we may think that successful people are truly the greatest experts in their fields, those who remain innovative never operate under that assumption. This is the best single piece of advice: constantly think about how you can do things better.
They Are Not Afraid to Scrap Projects
If you think something doesn’t work, even if it took a long time to get to that point, don’t be afraid to say something about it and do something about it. Experimenting also leaves the very real risk of failure open, you should get used to accepting something that just doesn’t work out often.
Putting your work out to the public is the only way to develop. The hard truth is that over the course of your art career you will possibly struggle (however you describe that). You’re not going to get grants, you’re going to have a show that flops and you’re going to have a great idea that just doesn’t materialize. The comforting part of this is that everyone else will experience this too.
Many artists want to become best-selling musicians, gain full-time income from their work and even become rich from it. Whereas others may want to become well-known in industry or academia and make books on art history.
If you have read up to this point, you should know that whatever your justification for success is, you should be all about it. Even if you’re not there yet, don’t lose hope. You’re not a failure.
You are not a loser, even though by the age of 21 you have not found fame and fortune. It’s all right if you don’t even know what your dream is. You never know where you’re going to end up tomorrow. Never tell yourself that you are too old to do it. Never tell yourself you’ve missed the chance. Never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough. You can do it. Whatever it is.