4 Essential Attributes for Success
Throughout my life and career, I have always worked with people who are pursuing their creative dreams: musicians, designers, copywriters, filmmakers, actors, photographers, models and artists all trying to make a living doing what they love to do.
Many have attained varying degrees of success. Others continue to work jobs they are not passionate about, while they pursue their creative dreams on the side. There is nothing wrong with doing it this way. Depending on your own financial obligations and responsibilities, it’s imperative to generate income elsewhere if it’s not yet coming from your art. However, it is also imperative to believe that it IS possible to transition your art from a part-time passion to a full-time career. We’ll talk more about your options when we discuss career objectives.
There is a popular belief that making a living as an artist is not feasible, or that people can be good at EITHER art OR business, but not both. Often these ideas and beliefs come from outside sources, but sometimes these roadblocks exist even in the artist’s own mind.
In order to break down these limiting beliefs, one needs to possess the following essential attributes:
Confidence in yourself and your work.
I can’t stress enough the importance of confidence. You can only be a success if you believe it to be possible. The “inner critic” that resides in the head of every artist is strong and loud. Not to mention the real critics in the outside world who are more than happy to tell you what is “wrong” with your work.
These antagonistic forces must be offset by a healthy dose of confidence. This doesn’t mean you need to adopt the “arrogant artist” cliché; rather, it means you are confident enough in your creative expression that outside criticism doesn’t reduce you to a weeping sack of self-pity. Instead, you listen to this feedback, determine which to consider and which to ignore, and proceed accordingly.
Motivation to move toward your goals relentlessly.
You are the only one responsible for defining and pursuing your own version of success. Taking a passive approach to your art career (i.e., waiting for the art rep, rich patron or gallery to pluck you from obscurity) ain’t gonna cut it. Whether you actively seek out existing opportunities or create them yourself, you must take a proactive approach to your career.
Know your goals and utilize them daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to fuel your continual drive towards your own version of success. Allow your goals to morph and change over time if need be, and redefine them as necessary, so they remain a relevant driving force throughout your life.
Discipline to keep striving and creating over the long haul.
When the going gets tough—and it will—the disciplined keep going. They push beyond their comfort zone, keep their eyes on the prize and keep moving forward, head down, arms swinging, day after day after day.
It’s hard enough to be disciplined when it comes to creating your art. When you add the consistent effort necessary to market your work, contact galleries, schedule, install and promote exhibits, network and follow-up with prospects and contacts, it becomes clear that epic levels of discipline are required.
Quite frankly, it’s very difficult. That’s why there are so many “starving artists” out there. Success requires tons of effort and a little luck. Focus on what you can control—the effort—and let the forces beyond your control take care of the luck.
Desire to view your work as a “business.”
Embracing this concept is a huge hurdle for many artists. Any type of creative activity is a sacred act of self-expression. When making art, you are connecting with your own higher intelligence. You are tapping into the universal creative spark in order to transmute “nothing” (the blank canvas of an idea) into “something” (a work of art).
Wow! That’s some heavy stuff. How are you going to put a price tag on that?
Well, the truth is, you don’t HAVE to. There are many artists who don’t want to “dirty their hands” with money and business where their art is concerned. They loathe the thought of “selling out” and fear that adopting business and marketing tactics will only lead to “prostituting” themselves and their work. For these artists, the ACT of creating is their reward and that alone is the reason they do it.
I can respect that position. It is not my intention to try to change these people’s minds. However, these are not the people I’m trying to reach with this book. I want to reach people who are ready to apply—to themselves and their art—the same effective business principles being utilized by successful companies and entrepreneurs.
I want to reach people who are willing to work just as hard at marketing their art as they are at creating it. I want to reach people who don’t think “marketing” is a dirty word and who realize that creating art, while certainly a sacred act of self-expression, can also be a rewarding route towards self-employment.
Excerpted from "Death To The Starving Artist: Art Marketing Strategies for a Killer Creative Career" by Nikolas Allen. Copyright © 2013 by Nikolas Allen. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.