Long-haired woman paints with oil colors

Defining Your Success as an Artist

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of success for an artist

One of the great advantages of pursuing art is the personal freedom you enjoy as an artist. As an artist, you are master of your studio, and what happens there is completely up to you. No one can tell you how to create, and no one can define success for you.

Having spent twenty plus years in the gallery business, I’ve met and worked with hundreds of artists, and every single one of them has different goals. Each uses different metrics to define success.

There are several common goals many artists strive to achieve, however. As you think about your future success, I would encourage you to consider each of these areas and decide how important each is to you. Your priorities will help determine how you approach the business of art.

Artistic Achievement

At the deepest level, many artists create for the sheer love of creation. They will spend years studying and training to hone their craft. Time spent in the studio is focused on the pursuit of excellence. Every other consideration is secondary.

Recognition

No artist creates in a vacuum, and many would argue that no work is complete until it has been shared with an audience. Many artists hunger for the opportunity to share their work. Art is communication at a very emotional, and often visceral level.

For some artists, the prospect of an award or critical praise of their work is more important than any monetary gain that might come from the sale of the work.

Monetary Gain/Financial Stability

Many artists aim to create a business around their art. Art sales, while not easy to attain, can allow an artist to gain independence to create more art. An artist who successfully sells his/her work earns the freedom to focus more time and energy on creating.

Artistic Motivation Venn Diagram

Artistic Motivation Venn Diagram

 

Finding Balance

For most artists, motivation lies in a combination of these factors. It is important though, to understand your personal motivation priorities. If artistic excellence is the overriding priority, you may sacrifice your marketing and business time to find more time to devote to your work. If recognition is the priority, museum shows and juried competitions will take precedence over gallery representation or shows. If sales are the priority, production and gallery representation become far more critical.

Leave a Comment

I encourage you to think about your personal artistic motivation. What is the driving force behind your creativity at this stage of your career? Are there motivating factors that I’m missing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments
  1. Tim Longwell
    • Tim Longwell
      • Barbara
  2. Richard Smith
    • Nancy
      • Laura Bybee
      • debora
    • Justin Dancing Hawk
      • David House
        • ann
      • Iphigenia Burg
    • Rita Cirillo
      • LeeAnn Alexander
    • Jodi Cachia
      • Robin
      • Tammy
    • Penny Collins
    • Bobbi Kenner
  3. Will L. Eskridge
    • Coleen
      • Coleen
      • Rita Cirillo
        • Ashley Jade
    • Mary Whittle
  4. Kim Jones
    • jimmy graham
    • Maggie Smith
      • Kim Jones
        • Claire
        • Pamela T
          • Dean Robinson
        • stella
        • Tammy
      • Don Beck
      • Ojemekele Ighodalo
    • Wanda H Bellamy
    • Sue Williams
    • Victoria S.
    • Gail Erickson
    • Joan Maguire
  5. Alison Philpotts
    • Dan Snyder
      • Sandy
      • Mary Whittle
    • Linda Leonard Hughes
  6. Katherine
  7. Aletha
    • Catherine Jo Morgan
  8. Natalie Briney
  9. Nicole Royer
    • Kim Jones
  10. Janet Glatz
  11. Mary Manning
  12. Carolyn WarmSun
  13. Joyce Wynes
    • Maggie Smith
    • Andrea
  14. Kim Snyder
    • Jason Horejs
  15. Carole Belliveau
    • Aletha
  16. Julie Bernstein Engelmann
  17. Pat Musick
    • Ruth Koh
      • Pat Musick
      • Linda-marie Monier
  18. Janet
  19. dema
  20. Sharon Sieben
  21. Keith Barnett
  22. Sue Contessa
  23. Jane Wilcoxson
  24. Trina Gunzel
  25. Susan N Jarvis
  26. Judy Jones
  27. Marie-Louise McHugh
    • Emily
  28. Pam
  29. Marian
  30. Johanna
    • Bob Ragland
      • Carol Channer
  31. Stephen Hall
  32. claudia stewart
  33. Aletha
    • Pat Musick
  34. YoHana - The Heartist
  35. Darlene Mowatt
  36. Suzanne Frazier
    • Richard Bell Smith
  37. Bob Ragland
    • gina M.
  38. Donna Elliott
    • Kim Jones
    • Jane Hoffelt
  39. Sandy lindblad
  40. Laurie Adams
  41. Alix Dunn
  42. silvana soriano
  43. Erica Hollander
  44. Connie Eberle
  45. elle-jé freeheart
  46. Magga
  47. Caroline Lifshey
  48. Carol Es
  49. Carol Es
    • gina M.
  50. Kathie Sumpter
  51. Kaye E. Mero
  52. Gill
  53. Consuelo Okdie
  54. Susan Huntington
  55. jacqui binford-bell
  56. Rob Manaraze
  57. Chris Erickson
  58. Kathleen A. Letona
  59. Diane
  60. Robert McElwee
  61. Marti Estep
  62. Donna Manaraze
  63. Suzilong Long
  64. Victoria Storey
  65. MiMi Stirn
  66. robert Tarzwell
  67. Rosie
  68. Carol Benner
  69. Margaret
  70. Red
  71. Mary Ciofalo
  72. Leana de Villiers
  73. Joy Guthrie
  74. Michael Porter
  75. Kay Baker
  76. Stacie Flint
  77. Jay Johnson
  78. Tna Fernandez
  79. Jenni
    • gina M.
  80. MITAK
  81. Alev
  82. takesha Powell
  83. Brandy House
  84. Lorena O'Barr
  85. Betty Kay Price
  86. Lana
  87. Lillian
  88. Robyn
    • Sue Waugh
  89. Judy
  90. Robyn
  91. Donna M
  92. Terri Cabral
  93. Linda
  94. Teena
  95. Tony Hamilton
  96. Jennifer
  97. Connie
  98. Lorraine Maher
  99. Lia Kass
  100. T. Angela
  101. Jeanne Burris Johnson
  102. Maria Coronado
  103. Myra Lawson
  104. Emilie
  105. Emilie
  106. Sudipto Chatterjee
  107. Ling Strube
  108. Veronica V. Bahman
  109. Vicki Visconti-Tilley
  110. Lorraine Burt
  111. Joan
  112. Rachel
  113. tony whibley
  114. Meryl Shapiro
  115. Sharon
  116. Emily Eales
  117. Karen
  118. John
  119. Donna
  120. Bridget O'Doy
  121. ruth sears
  122. Yvette Michele Booth
  123. Valerie Woelk
  124. Norma Riegle
  125. steph a.
  126. Patti Frinzi
  127. Joanne
  128. Jackie Eliason
  129. Marcia
  130. Ocie
  131. Carla Palermo
  132. Brigitte
  133. Susan G. DeVan
  134. Kathleen Durst
  135. Jeffrey S Thornton
  136. Samar
    • Michelle Jones
  137. Wow
  138. Ruth
  139. RON BARTCZAK
  140. T Storey
  141. LaMerle Deca
  142. Sue Bernon
  143. Gary Rubin
  144. Bonnie
  145. Sandi
  146. Matthew Sheek
  147. Magdalena
  148. Marzelle
  149. Rebecca Hartvigsen
  150. Helen K. Beacham Fine Art
  151. Tracy
    • Michelle Jones
  152. Jill Hoddick
  153. Holly
  154. Elizabeth Bonura
  155. Scott Perry
  156. Sharyn Lightfoot
  157. Ann Wallace
  158. Adeline Halvorson
  159. Julie Wishmeyer
  160. Ruth Collis
  161. Robert
  162. STEPHANIE VISSER
  163. Alan B. Tuttle
  164. David ODell
  165. Hildos
  166. Marlo Montanaro
  167. Arthur Benjamins
  168. Karen Cole
  169. Gail Saukas
    • Bev Brazelton
  170. joi
  171. Dan Kiselev
  172. Margaret Glew
  173. Patty
  174. brad nuorala
  175. Susan Bennett
  176. Lee Robinson
  177. Carol G.
  178. Brenda Belfield
  179. Brenda Belfield
  180. Sandrine alias Sanya
  181. Jerry
  182. Ileana
  183. J. Kent Stewart
  184. Stefanie Graves
  185. Debora Gillman
    • Michelle Jones
  186. Katharine Weber
  187. Bill Donaldson
  188. Ron Kenedi
  189. André Grigoriev
  190. Nancy Lane
  191. Myriam Lys
  192. Dede Farrar
  193. Phil
  194. Carmen Beecher
    • Michelle Jones
  195. Suzy Mehrer
  196. Dawn Hunt
    • Michelle Jones
    • Kathleen Hill
  197. Gretchen
  198. Judith Keefer
  199. Annie
  200. Cathy Vigor
  201. Judith Keefer
  202. Michelle Reid
  203. EdiNelson Ramirez
  204. Michelle Jones
  205. B. D. James
  206. B. D. James
  207. Deb Mongato
  208. Donna Williams
  209. Brandie Butcher
  210. Cindy
  211. Leni Levenson Wiener
  212. Ann Baldwin May
  213. David Downs
  214. Nancy Ellen Walker
  215. Sawyer Rose
  216. Bill Dill
  217. Jock Ireland
  218. Dale Sparage
  219. Ann Marie Bucchino
  220. Heather
  221. Judy Albright
  222. Barb Kielkowski
  223. Dan Philips
  224. Roslyn Ross-Hoffman
  225. Tony Pachak
  226. Kirk G. Forster
  227. Sheree Nelson
  228. Mary Jean
  229. Laura McClanahan
  230. Cindy Grisdela
  231. Elizabeth
  232. Dave Berryman
  233. Nancy
  234. Yufen
  235. Deborah Parks
  236. Simona Counts
  237. Peggy Wright
  238. Linda Moore
  239. Buff McAllister
  240. Joanne Shellan
  241. Shirley Carter
  242. Anne Smyers
  243. Deborah Butterfield
  244. Margit
  245. Kathleen Hill
  246. GalleryMOM
  247. Jennie Becker
  248. Kathleen Fowler
  249. Susan Elle
  250. Viki Horat
  251. Melody Sears
  252. Seth
  253. Seth
  254. Alison Saunders
  255. Sara Drescher Braswell
  256. sue bleiweiss
  257. Susie Gadea
  258. Judy Dunn
  259. Sara Johnson
    • Roopa Dudley
  260. Mary Montgomery
  261. Karen Iacovetta
  262. christine norris
  263. Meg Breiter
  264. Debbie
  265. Elizabeth Bamberger
  266. Mindy Dennis
  267. Bill Rodgers
  268. Roopa Dudley
  269. Jolene Scott
  270. Denise Van Balen
  271. Deb Leilani Parks
  272. Sharon
  273. Cheryl Pettigrew
  274. Mindy Dennis
  275. Fran Dodd
  276. Korey Averill
  277. Anne Muñoz
  278. David J. Holland
  279. DeborahART
  280. Kimberly McCormick
  281. Simrat
  282. Ron Escudero
  283. Ron Escudero
  284. Jacky Garlock
  285. Diane Davis
  286. Malia Shields
  287. Leslie Toms
    • Jason Horejs
  288. Sheri Liebschner
    • Jason Horejs
  289. Barbara
  290. Kendra Broome
  291. Kim Riner
  292. Danila Rumold
  293. Larry Simons
  294. Carole Devine
  295. isabelle
  296. Elizabeth
  297. Bhavna
  298. David Tiano
  299. Mary
  300. Suzan
  301. Cindy Millikin
  302. Tonya Brill
  303. Mark Pickles
  304. Renee Manford
  305. Lenore Robins
    • Jason Horejs
  306. Deborah Czarny
  307. Ruth Clegg
  308. Judy Musch
  309. Stella
  310. Janelle Marks
  311. Pamela Dick
  312. Susan
  313. Christine Holzschuh
  314. Sister Mary Grace
    • Jason Horejs
  315. Kathy Burk
  316. Richard Zino
  317. Maria
  318. Kate Klingensmith
  319. JHaynes
    • Jason Horejs
  320. Von Biggs
  321. Con Slobodchikoff
  322. Georgesse Gomez
  323. Diana Olsen
    • Jason Horejs
  324. Lonna Johnson
  325. Georgette Drake
  326. Kay Jeansonne
  327. Bill Reed
  328. Romeo Tanghal Sr.
  329. John Holdway
  330. Frauke Palmer
  331. Kim Allcock
  332. Chris
  333. Diana J Smith
  334. Kate Settle Ruland
  335. Segun Aiyesan
  336. Clea D. Lewis
  337. Ivy Wreden
  338. Anna
  339. Elizabeth Cleary
    • Catherine Jo Morgan
  340. Ellen Frenkel
  341. Laura
  342. Cathy Martin
  343. Gaby Reade
  344. Dee lener
  345. Sandy Dimke
  346. Michael Orlando
  347. Donna Papenhausen
  348. Leah Guzman
  349. Tom
  350. Skeet Sirmons
  351. Linda Illumanardi
  352. Max McLeod
  353. Arlene Harrison
  354. Barbara Richter Gritczek
  355. Laura
  356. Debra Morr
  357. Gail
  358. Yotam
  359. Richard Munson
  360. teri kidd
  361. Beatrice Ajayi
  362. Joe Bastida Rodriguez
  363. Mary Sullivan
  364. April Sepich
  365. Ann Haag
  366. Paige Sullivan
  367. Hammond Art
  368. Elena Stokes
  369. B C Turner
  370. Mefore Aday
  371. Cate Gundlah
  372. Linda Moran
  373. sal barracca
  374. Tim B.
  375. Joan Richardson
  376. Kathleen
  377. Debi Friedlander
  378. Melissa Ballenger
  379. Wendy Teter
  380. h Rose Drummond
  381. Pamela Haunschild
  382. Liz Nichols
  383. Rebecca Holland Hudnall
  384. Janelle
  385. Debbie
  386. George Walters
  387. Robert
  388. Doug
  389. Corey Habbas
  390. Annetta Gregory
  391. D.K. Boljat
  392. Debbie Thornberry
  393. Marc Plouffe
  394. Deanna Krueger
  395. Patricia Lemieux
  396. Susan
  397. Linda Mitchell
  398. Sheila Phelps
  399. Marilyn Chapin Massey
  400. Beth Wicker
  401. Enola
  402. Sandra
  403. Tony Torres
  404. Jani Freimann
  405. john h c davis
  406. Marc Clamage
  407. Charlene Hall
  408. Melissa Snyder
  409. Maggib
  410. nikki moss
  411. Caroline holmes
  412. Pat Parker
  413. Elaine Schaefer Hudson
  414. Rochelle
  415. H. Kirk Beckham
  416. Andrew Saboria
  417. Gregory
  418. Kathleen Secrest
  419. Mysi Carroll
  420. Robyn Maus
  421. richard baron
  422. Roger Adkins
  423. Brian Bailey
  424. Kim Del Castillo
  425. Linda Eades Blackburn
  426. Fleta Monaghan
  427. Denver P. Wilson
  428. Kat Dennis
  429. carolyn
  430. Poline
  431. BJ Pinkston
  432. Richard Russeth
  433. Janet
  434. Jim Carpenter
  435. Elizabeth Newman
  436. Melanie Herbruck
  437. Jeanne
  438. Corienne Wagner
  439. Marilee
  440. Diane
  441. Leigh Herndon
    • Dinah Anaya
  442. Michael Lynn Adams
    • Emily
  443. Terry Holliday Giltner
  444. Janet Tippett Knight
  445. Ikaika Anderson
  446. Barbara
  447. Sue
  448. Don Golden
  449. Mary Barr Rhodes
  450. Susan
  451. Barbara
  452. pdrapala
  453. Laurel
  454. Debbie Bridges
  455. Reid Helms
  456. Patty Franklin
  457. Jack
  458. Roxanne (Roxie) Nichols
  459. Pamela
  460. Paola
  461. Ron Bigony
  462. Adriana LoRusso
  463. Kathy Crocker
  464. Stephanie Rose Long
  465. Jan Davies
  466. Bee Garmon
  467. Marisa Eddins
  468. Cyrel
  469. Connie Townsend
  470. Patty Kay
  471. Elaine Evans
  472. Barbara B
  473. Blanca Hammett
  474. Rhonda McSorley
  475. Sandy
  476. Gwen
  477. FKL
  478. Mary Winters-Meyer
  479. Albertus Joseph
  480. Dawn Leigh
  481. Paul Berenson
  482. Jessica
  483. Barbara Besser/ANALEIA
  484. Linda Kyle
  485. Lee Muslin
  486. Kathryn Weisberg
  487. Nancy
  488. Barbara Blair
  489. Meg
  490. Renee
  491. Elsa
  492. Kurt
  493. JoLoBx
  494. Catherine Jo Morgan
  495. Sue Carmicle
  496. Perry Calton
  497. Julia Wickes
  498. L Henry
  499. Cicily Tarapchak
  500. Debora L. Stewart
  501. Becca
  502. Pamela
  503. Steffi
  504. Rita Knight
  505. Ariela Boronat
  506. Ruby
  507. Carol Shutt
  508. Greta Olivas
  509. Linda Henning
  510. Robin
  511. Nathan Beard
  512. Dara Daniel
  513. sandeeNC
  514. Lolly Owens
  515. Mark Schutter
  516. Rene Dayan-Whitehead
  517. Steven Klinsky
  518. Pamela Kirkham
  519. Gale Goldfarb
  520. Anita Wexler
  521. Candace
  522. Katharine K. Owens
  523. Juanita Greenspan
  524. Patty
  525. Alison
  526. Marianne Bascelli
  527. Marcelo H.
  528. Kirt bowman
  529. Anita nowinska
  530. Evelyn Markasky
  531. Becky Christenson
  532. Marge Coughlin
  533. Jami Akers
  534. Karen Lastre
  535. Cheryl Handy
  536. Terri Lyons
  537. Rolf Juario
  538. Fran Black
  539. Anastasia S. Weigle
  540. Marsha Dingeldein
  541. Christi Bunn
  542. Teri Canelle
    • Alwina Simon
    • Gerrie Jones
  543. Cass Mullane
  544. Jann Pollard
  545. Jim King
  546. Dru Duffey
  547. wendy goldberg
  548. Sayeeda Goriawala
  549. Dave Hirschman
  550. Cynthia Pirani
  551. Roberta Fletcher