What is it That Makes an Artist Successful?

“When an artist no longer cares how the world sees their art, they are free to become truly successful.” – John R. Math

My journey as an artist has been an interesting adventure.  When I first decided I wanted to be considered as a serious artist, I thought that this meant I had to get my art into galleries and sell it.  Once I had accomplished that, I went on to have several art reps sell my art for me as well. 

In both cases, I came to realize that I was creating art to please someone else (the gallery or the art rep) and that I had given up my power and my creativity, in the process.  

Had I become an “art whore” whose main purpose was to create for other people and entities, instead of myself?  Was this what a successful artist does or who they become?  Always in the back of my mind were the questions - Was I just creating art in order to sell it?  Did I enjoy creating that piece? Did it resonant with my soul? 

Has my art journey been unique, strange or similar to other artists?  Do other artists have the same anxious thoughts and doubts about themselves and their art?  How did I end up in such a place?  It was not supposed to be like this!

Over a period of time I realized that in order to gain acceptance and have my art validated by someone else, I had created what I thought someone else would like or would buy.  It was not a money thing, it was an acceptance thing!  If a gallery wanted to show my art or someone wanted to buy my art, I was a successful artist. 

Once I identified the trap I had created for myself, I realized I needed to return to my original reason for being an artist. Creating art satisfies something deep within me.  I am not sure what that is, but it exists and I must do it for myself otherwise the art neither fulfills nor satisfies the need within me.

When I returned to the real reason for creating my art, looking only to myself for validation, I began to enjoy the creative process again. 

This is my own unique story but I hope it may help other artists to get back to creating their art for the “right” reasons. Artists may be considered to be successful by others but we are not truly successful until we create our art for ourselves and no one else.  Create art first to fulfill that artist inside you.


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