Artsits who thrive... not just stay alive!
What gives successful thriving artists that winning edge?
It’s a whole lot of reasons really. Talent, tenacity, discipline, confidence, clarity and staying inspired. You also have to know your painting “why” and how you define success for yourself as an artist. You will never reach success if your aim is to be as famous as Monet or be hung in MOMA or to win a prestigious art prize.
So what is your WHY? Your mission? Your purpose? And what does success personally look like for you?
There can be a lot of motivating factors that entice an artist to create:
self expression, enjoyment, innovation, recognition, having your own business and financial reward. They can all overlap and indeed most artists tend to balance many of these to achieve the greatest success and balance in their lives and career.
Exploring a few motivating factors:
Remember when you were little and painted with pure joy? We all start from this place of pure pleasure, fun, entertainment and self expression. Watching children paint we see them in awe of what the colours create while mixing them, like they’re watching magic happen before their very eyes. This fascination in colour mixing and the process of painting from imagination is always a huge motivation for art making and painting. Many artists who paint for the joy of it often describe themselves as hobbyists but I believe if you love to paint or draw on an ongoing basis then you’re an artist! Painting for your own enjoyment doesn’t mean you’re not good enough to be a professional artist or that you’re inadequate. Many of these artists become highly skilled and spend a lot of their spare time painting. Artists who paint for pleasure often work when they feel the call and enjoy the relaxing, meditative effect of painting. Great! We all need to remind ourselves of this and keep painting with a child-like attitude of bliss and enchantment.
The main challenge these adults may face can range from financial – they need to maintain a job that pays the mortgage, or the lack of a creative studio space, or an inability to carve out the dedicated time required to create and become a prolific artist. Artist clusters can be a great way to get to know like minded artists in the community. Everyone benefits as they share their skills and experience and the pathway to becoming a practicing professional artist. ‘The Artists’ Way’ by Julia Cameron is a fabulous book and talks often about the importance of creative clusters. Getting to know artists who are further along the path can also help you realise they also had challenging beliefs around becoming professional artists. One thing for sure and that all artists would agree upon is – if you lose the pure pleasure in the artistic process there is no point in painting or creating. Being in the present moment and enjoying is step number one. So – if you’re in this category – stick to it!
Artists motivated by the desire to innovate value creative exploration and artistic excellence. Their painting practice is more directed towards developing their own unique approach and voice regardless of their work’s market viability. Many of these artists pursue opportunities to share their work in nonprofit venues like museums and residency programs. They frequently are not interested in selling their paintings, and are happy taking an outside job in order to be able to paint what they want. Self expression is a key motivator and keeping authentic and finding their own visual marks and voice is the main influence. Some people might say this is a ‘true’ artist yet it’s difficult to categorize and put individuals into a box. As I said before – if you’re practicing and painting/sketching or creating then you’re an artist. Boom.
For an artist who is motivated by recognition or fame, they are normally sharing their work with a audience and communicating on all types of social media platforms. Art Prizes, awards, competitions, solo and group exhibitions, and particularly professional ones at the regional and national level, inspire them to create prolifically. They love to engage with their audience and be right in the middle of the feedback – some even loving the attention or accolades from their engaged audience. These artists feel and measure their success through fame or fortune rather than sales and financial gains.
For you to reach your potential success, you need to define what your success means to you. You also need to find your WHY while remembering to balance all your personal motivating factors. Know who you are, what’s important and follow the dream. Stay true to yourself, keep remaining in the creative flow state where you find real joy and peace, do the work necessary, remain disciplined and show your work to get financial reward. One day in the not too distant future you too will be achieving success for your time and creative talents and effort.