top of page

I Am Successful: How to define your own success as an artist

Think of a living artist, any one, and ask yourself why you believe he or she is successful? What makes you believe that they have reached a certain level of success in their career? Your answer may be that it’s seen in the number of followers they have on social media, the price of their work, or where their art is being displayed. Maybe you believe that they are successful because they’ve been featured in an art magazine.

None of these assumptions are wrong. In fact, they can all be accurate representations of success. That is because an artist has every right to define what success means in his or her own career. Defining success as an artist also helps in defining your milestones, and those milestones allows you to visualize where you are on your path to success.

Knowing what motivates you can help you to define your success, and defining your success will motivate you even more!

We all have different things that motivate us to create. For me, I love the lifestyle that can come with being an artist, so I know that the more I create, the longer I get to keep my freedom to actually create and work on my own time. I also imagine being able to create during my whole life while being financially comfortable. I have many motivators, however, lifestyle and financial success motivate me the most every day to pick up my paintbrush and get to work.

My motivations then allow me to clearly define what success looks like in my career. Consequently, I define my success as a full-time artist who has the freedom to create while being financially capable to support her career and family. So much more encompasses my success, but that’s the basis. Here are some bases that may help you to discover what success means to you:

- Financial stability

- Freedom to create

- Lifestyle

- Obtaining a large number of clients/collectors

- Fame

- Lots of subscribers/followers/admirers

- Exhibiting in many places around the world

When you know what success means to you, it will allow you to stay focused and organized.

There is so much hoopla in the art world. Comments coming from left and right on what it means to be a successful artist. We put curators and art critics in charge of defining the worth and success of an artist, when it should mainly be the very person who created the work.

Artist Alexis McQuarter defined her success as being able to sustain herself. She said that she once envisioned her success as “…. long waiting lists for commissions and selling original art and prints.” Regardless of how you may measure your success, whether it's qualitative or quantitative, keep in mind that your definition today may not be the same in a few years. McQuarter explains that her definition of success has changed overtime with life adjustments, and what she believed was most important in her life and career.

Love Blue and Orange by Alexis McQuarter

When it has been defined what it means for you to be a successful artist, you will find that it becomes easier to hone in on your skills and focus on creating.

Understanding your success also has an impact on your organization--especially mental organization. By comprehending your definition of success, you can organize yourself accordingly to hit obtainable milestones that get you closer to the finish line!

For example, if your success is defined by your level of visibility, then that is your main focus. Therefore, you may set a bi-monthly milestone to create a new public piece, mural, exhibit in a show, or set up at an art fair. These opportunities will surely increase your visibility.

Your success is your success!

I repeat: Your success is your success! This is the truth. I know how easy it is to compare another artist’s career to your own, but it will never be an accurate comparison; success can have so many different looks. I am an artist who has not hit fame or hit 10k followers on social media, but I am not concerned! These are indicators of success for some artists (which are 100% acceptable), but I have decided to measure my success differently, and you can decide the same.

The most important thing is to stay true to what success looks like for you, and devote every day to achieving that vision.

If you’re still having trouble defining your success, then refer back to how you answered the question at the beginning of the article. Often, we may consider another artist successful because of something we’ve seen or witnessed, but that same artist may think differently. That’s because you’ve labeled the artist successful based off of what you believe success looks like, not that artist. So, maybe that is, in fact, your own definition of success!

30 views0 comments


bottom of page