Leading a successful life as an artist feels like a dream. You get to follow your passion and unleash your creative powers in every single piece you create. You get recognition for expressing your very thoughts in colors that aestheticize them in the most profound way — and get paid for it!
It all feels like a fairytale full of bells and whistles, amidst which you hold your colors in front of the canvas, sitting at the beach, bare-footed, with a tilted hat, and painting a demonstration of your inner world — or imagine your laptop and studio as well if you are an animator like me.
But hey! Sorry to break your little bubble, let’s pause and think for a while. What if I tell you that your image of an artist is merely a product of overly simplified romanticism portrayed in your favorite artist-based movies? You’ll clearly get a bit demotivated. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of work and dedication to get even close to it. And a bit of sacrifice with proper planning.
So, if you are an aspiring artist, let me give you a realistic view of why some artists thrive and others don’t, with strategies and tips that can help you become a successful artist. Just make sure you leave the augmented imagination behind; the reality is quite different from what you might think.
WHY DO SOME ARTISTS THRIVE?
1. Successful artists get their definitions straight.
The definition of success varies from artist to artist. Some create artworks to get recognition among their fellows, others do it to attain artistic and critical excellence, and many intend to commercialize it for financial freedom. However, successful artists are those who find a middle ground between all. But that, of course, will require a lot of time and experience.
To know what you want to achieve with your artistic skills, you must identify your priorities. For example, an artist thirsty for achieving artistic excellence needs extreme focus; therefore, they should be free of financial worries in the first place—their focus is the studio, with a side hustle to afford the daily needs.
For those striving for recognition, there’s a simple rule. An artwork not shared is an artwork wasted. Therefore, such artists look for platforms to showcase their talent. It can be online social sites, a personal blog, art galleries, anywhere where a broader audience can appreciate their work.
Those intending to achieve financial success through art primarily study the changing tastes and trends of the market and then focus on creating artworks that appeal to people. This increases the chances of massive sales. This is critically important when you are in the animation industry, where your main goal is educating and persuading your target audience.
To become successful, it’s necessary to identify your underlying motivation behind creating art in the first place. Perhaps that’s the most significant difference between being successful and unsuccessful. Artists with no clear aims often end up in oblivion.
2. They experiment frequently
A lot of artists quit before even discovering their genuine passion and style. Remember, successful artists, experiment over and over until they find what they are passionate about. They implement different styles, subjects and constantly challenge themselves to better their art.
Once they discover their passion, they move towards consistency and frequently create artworks of a specific type. This helps them hone their skill through trial and error and eventual discoveries during the process. The end result? Financial and critical success.
3. They treat it as a business
Before you dismiss this critical concept, take a sigh of patience, and look at it this way: if you want to make a living out of your art, it’s necessary to treat your work as an organized business. This is because once your artworks catch the limelight, the sales might surge to a level that becomes frustrating.
Most artists even fail to effectively handle success due to poor organization and planning, which often results in ultimate business collapse from a financial point of view. To make sure you aren’t one of them, you must have a strategy that complements your motives.
4. They showcase their art wherever they can
For art to become a commercial success, it must be showcased and exposed to the right audience. Successful artists are keen on this fact and hunt for opportunities that allow maximum exposure.
Moreover, they closely study the art market and examine the current art trends. This helps them create pieces that can attract potential buyers and generate sales while not losing their originality amidst the process. After producing excellent art, they look for galleries and venues where such type is frequently showcased and have a massive target audience that it might appeal to.
5. They aren’t afraid to take risks.
“Art is, from any point of view, the greatest of risks.” – Jean Hélion
Dedicating your life to an art requires a lot of courage, and so does anything else. Be it an artist or any successful person, you’ll frequently hear one statement, “Don’t be afraid to take risks.”
So, unless and until you keep the artistic career as the center of your world, the chances of success and recognition are slight. You must be willing to overcome a lot of failures before achieving massive success.
WHY OTHERS FAIL
In the above-given section, we went through some critical points that increase the chances of becoming a successful artist. Now let’s look at specific practices that can be deleterious to an artist’s future, financially and artistically.
1. They don’t unleash their maximum potential
“The starting point of all achievements is desire.” – Napoleon Hill
Now Napoleon Hill wasn’t an artist, but his writings still motivate starters to achieve their goals. One of the rules he deliberately emphasized was possessing a burning desire; the unlimited thirst for achievement. And this is reflected in the efforts you put into your work.
Most artists don’t acknowledge this and are discouraged by temporary defeats and hurdles. Hence, they never get to discover their true potential and quit before even starting, letting their talent go down the drain.
Remember, failures are your steps to success. If one wants to succeed, one must treat every failure as a lesson for the next step.
2. They have poor marketing skills
Another big reason most artists fail is poor understanding and use of art marketing. Just like any field, art is also filled with tough competition. Therefore, an artist must be a good marketer, accountant, social media specialist, and CEO.
However, even if you don’t have outstanding expertise in the fields above, there are always people willing to help you. Having a good team is always an option if you can afford it.
3. They’re desperate
Many beginners fail to understand a straightforward thing; an art career is a marathon, not a 100m race. Therefore, it needs sheer patience to make your mark. Some are quickly disappointed by the initial earnings, which honestly aren’t usually that great. To make a decent living out of arts, you need to get recognized, be talked about, and increase your demand in the market.
Statements like “Good Art Sells Itself” are a thing of the past, especially for artists whose sole motive behind work is financial success. You must build your audience and do effective art marketing, as mentioned. Once your name and art is spread among the targeted audiences and the demand surges, it’s time to increase the price. But of course, as we said, it takes time.
4. They don’t have a plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Who doesn’t want to be a successful artist? The thing that makes the difference is the thought process involved in planning. And sadly, that’s one area where most artists don’t use their creative abilities.
To establish an art business, it’s essential to have all the stuff planned out in minor details. A good plan is a guideline for the future. No one will know how brilliant you are as an artist if they don’t see your work in the first place.
5. They lack organizational skills
While starting up your art business, individually or as a company, you must keep track of many things as your business develops. This means good organizational skills are mandatory for the business to operate.
For an online marketing campaign, you will need clear goals, keyword research, a comprehensive blogging schedule, and so on. Having a team will be helpful here if you don’t seem to be handling it alone.
And that is pretty much it. If you are new to the field and thinking about pursuing your artistic venture, keeping the points mentioned above in check will help you gain long-term success.
Choosing art as a career is fruitful, but it requires pure dedication and long-term planning to start getting results fully. I hope this article helps you as you progress through your art journey.
Author’s Bio: Alex Safavinia is the CEO and Creative Director of Kasra Design, an award-winning video animation company specializing in motion graphics and explainer video production. He began his career as a motion graphics artist in 2006 and soon converted his passion into a successful business by gathering up a team of talented artists and started a company. As his business thrives, Alex loves to share his knowledge and experience with aspiring artists to help them kickstart a fruitful career.
All artwork images are original artwork by Alex Safavinia.