This article was originally posted in 2010 but has been updated and revised as of June 2020.
Steven Covey’s early 1990’s, best-selling book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” provided a holistic and principled approach to problem-solving, living and adapting to change by seeing opportunities rather than problems.
The book became a huge bestseller and still sells well today, even almost 30 years later. This is because the advice offered in the book still resonates. In that helpful spirit, below we have highlighted seven habits which we believe artists should follow to become highly effective and successful. Although we are detailing only seven habits, the readers of this article may have ideas on other successful “habits” as well.
The seven habits of highly effective and successful artists are:
There are certainly other habits and traits of successful artists beyond what we have outlined above. However, if artists are talented and apply these 7 habits to their craft, they will be more likely to be successful.
After reading this article, please feel free to share with us any of your habits that you feel have made you more effective and successful in your art and career.
We receive emails from artists who are very talented but they have become disillusioned and disappointed with the “art business”. Everyone tells them that their art is great and that they should be very successful, but their dream of being a full-time artist is slipping away and they have become totally frustrated.
When we delve into and inquire about their situation more deeply, several common things will come up that indicates that the artist is not committed to their art in the manner that they need to be. The following are “must have” characteristics and traits that a successful artist must possess;
Having a Passion for Their Art:
An artist must have a passion for their art, along with everything that is associated with being an artist. Why is this? It is because there will be problems, barriers, and challenges to being an artist. However, if the artist is passionate about what they do, these difficulties will be perceived only as detours to success, rather than “problems” that derail the artist.
Being Focused on Their Commitment to their Art:
Successful artists are not distracted from their commitment to achieving their artistic goals. To be successful at most things in this life, it requires a focus and a “singleness of purpose”. Successful artists have this focus, as their art has become a priority in their life.
Having a Vision of Their Artistic Success:
Artists who are successful have a vision and they see themselves achieving great things in their chosen profession. Despite roadblocks, problems or defeats, their vision keeps them working through any problems and towards their goal.
Artists who have achieved their goals will generate new artistic goals and this new vision will then need to be achieved. Thus, the artist is motivated, engaged in and determined to achieve those new goals.
The Artist Must be Persistent When Facing Hardships:
Most people in the face of adversity quit. People who are successful get past adversity and do so because they persisted on towards their goal despite any challenges. Persistence is the difference between a successful artist and an artist who quits. The quitter loses focus and their vision. The winner will see a problem as an opportunity to learn more, to grow stronger and become more knowledgeable.
A Successful Artist will Maximize All Opportunities:
A successful artist is prepared and ready to maximize and leverage any opportunities that may come their way. Whether it is to fill in quickly for another artist at a gallery, ready to give an interview, write an article for a blog or to give a speech to a group, a successful artist sees that as an opportunity to network, promote and brand their artwork.
Unsuccessful artists see those not as opportunities but rather something that interrupts what they were doing! The artist who is engaged and ready to capitalize on opportunities when they come along is already or will eventually become successful in their art world.
Successful Artists Understand that Art is a Business:
Successful artists see themselves not only as artists but also as business people. They also understand that other people who they are connected within the art world are also business people and that they must conduct themselves in a like manner, in order to become successful.
Today’s art marketplace it is undeniably a business. Art is a competitive business and an artist will learn how to successfully operate within this atmosphere or they will eventually fail. Just being an artist is not enough.
There are other habits and traits of successful artists beyond what I have outlined above. But, if an artist is talented but frustrated and is willing to apply these outlined qualities to their art, they will soon become or they will stay motivated and successful.