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Top Traits of Successful Artists


What's the secret of success? Here are some traits of artists who know.

Picasso Quote

They have a plan. Successful people in any business, including artists, have a game plan which they have thought through carefully, and they act on that plan. Some artists say they want to become successful, and actually float along without really having a goal and a strategy. But without a vision and a plan to achieve it, success cannot follow.

They have a mature body of work. To stand out from the crowd, artists need a well-executed, recognizable portfolio in their own style – not something derivative, or work that was created to try to fit into a trend or to please everybody - which ends up pleasing nobody. Successful artists spend hundreds of hours in the studio, developing their natural signature style which expresses their authentic personality.

They create a network. Many times it's the people you know who can help you succeed rather than how talented you are. Successful artists seek out beneficial relationships and build on them by following through, and by giving – referrals, feedback, friendship. And, they are open to receiving as well. Connecting with a mentor, a supportive peer group, potential collectors, gallery owners, and others, is easier when you take a genuine interest in them and in their businesses. What goes around comes around.

They act professionally. Successful artists know they are in business, and act accordingly. They invest time, money and effort in getting the best possible photography to present their work. They have a thoughtful, well-designed website to show their portfolio to its best advantage. They show up on time, and do what they say they will do. Their business etiquette is well-honed, and they communicate well with customers.

They go the extra mile. It's one thing to seek business, but sometimes it doesn't work out. That's just a speed bump to artists who are in a success mindset. They think of ways to take advantage of opportunities in any situation, and take bold steps to get back on track.

They manage their time effectively. It's easy to get distracted, but successful business people avoid this by prioritizing, and focusing on their most important tasks. They learn to delegate smaller duties, and to schedule themselves. And they know that a regular, consistent studio practice is crucial to success, as is creating a work/life balance.

They don't give up. Highly focused and set on their goals, artists who are successful stay the course even during tough times. They know that they need to be consistent and persistent to gain traction, and start selling.

Carolyn EdlundThis article is courtesy of
Carolyn Edlund, founder of Artsy Shark, is a business writer, speaker and consultant for artists. She is the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, presenting at art business workshops throughout the United States. Carolyn works with artists every day in strategy sessions designed to help them structure their businesses, set and reach their goals. Find out more about scheduling your own business consultation with Carolyn here: window