How to be a successful artist

How to be a successful artist.

I love the title of this blog post.😊

If you’ve landed here for the first time and are not familiar with my work, you might be wondering what secrets I’m going to tell you that will guarantee career success as an artist.

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ll probably have an idea of what’s actually about to happen. 😉

It’s not my intention to be misleading.

It’s just that the way I define ‘success’ here isn’t tied in to the kind of success we’re taught to want. 

Which is not to say that’s not success too – if it truly lights us up to create that.

The beauty of it is, we get to choose what success means, looks like, and feels like, to us.

And typically, when you start digging deeper into this, beyond the more commonplace equation of ‘Success = Fame + Money + Accolades’, you will almost certainly find that success for you is deeper, richer, and – best of all – more immediately accessible than that.

When you’re fully inhabiting your artist self, living as you as an artist, and defining that word according to what it means to you and your life, then the effects of your art in the world outside your studio become not just secondary, but in many cases, not {so} relevant.

Because that’s not why you made it.

You made the art because it was a natural expression of you in the moment that you made it, and it’s how you be you; it’s how you be ‘true’.

Maybe when you share what you created, there is indeed rapturous applause.

Which could look like social media likes, the approval of family and friends, money, awards, renown – acceptance by the world outside your studio.

And maybe, when you share it, it lands with a dull thud.

And if you’re rooted in you as artist, in going beyond even that label and just being who you are, which is a creator being, then how it lands – including if it lands to great acclaim and uproar and going viral and selling all the work – that still has nothing to do with you as an artist, the art itself, why you made it, what its true purpose is, or what its primary purpose is.

All of that outside stuff is side effects.

Side effects we can enjoy, certainly, but not the reason we’re artists.

So the more that we can root in and inhabit our innately creative selves, just be that, and not worry about what the word means, or the labels, or are they going to like it – the more successful artists we’ll be.

The whole point is that you are here.

You are the only you that will ever be here, and as such you have things to express that only you will, in the history of ever, be able to express.

And is that not

1 – a gift, and

2 – an opportunity to give?

To give something through expression that cannot be given or received by anyone else ever, in any way, to anyone?

And so if we keep coming back to just the making, being in the present with the making, expressing expressing expressing, bringing it through, letting the ideas land and be made manifest through you…

That’s where the joy lies, because that’s where the art is.

The present is where you’re making your art. 

The future is what may or may not happen to the work, which you can’t control.

And you can only up to a point control what the work itself is.

But that is your point of power – being in the act of creation.

And so, our best, most powerful point to stand is in the present, in the creating.

And that doesn’t mean that we can’t plan ahead, or wonder, or think about how it may be received or what we’re going to do with it, who might be receiving it, or where we might want to share or sell it.

But those are after the fact.

They’re after the main event has already happened.

They can’t be the main event.

The future predictions can’t be the main event.

The main event is in the making.

And if you can switch from that future {or past} based thinking – which can worry you and hold you back, and allow the self doubt demon to wake up – then you get all the riches of being an artist, whether or not people love what you make or buy what you make, or add likes to your Instagram post about it.

None of that is the most important thing.

Because there’s only one most important thing, and that’s you, in the present moment, getting to express your one-of a-kind-ness through the work.

And if that’s who you’re being – the one who gets to experience the unique joy of being in the creation process, even when you’re not in the studio – then you win at being an artist. 😊


The Happy Artist StudioIf ‘success’ as an artist has been a sticky area for you, and you’d like some help, guidance, and a new outlook on your art and yourself as an artist, the Happy Artist Studio exists to support you in that.

Come and join us here – we have a warm and welcoming community, a library of artistic self discovery courses, and a wealth of other resources you can use to unfold your artist life in the way that feels most true and fulfilling – and successful – to you.