Success Re-Defined: What Does Artistic Success Look Like?
When I first started thinking about being a serious painter, I had a pretty specific idea of what that would look like. I expected that it would involve 1. galleries & shows; 2. competitions & awards; 3. membership in prestigious art societies; 4. limited edition reproductions with a company like Greenwich Workshop; 5. name recognition like Robert Bateman or Thomas Kinkade. And I was not averse to the idea of seeing my art on coffee mugs or greeting cards, either.
Recently I've been challenging my own assumptions. Changing my definition of success is helped along by the interviews I've been doing with local artists, who are successful in a host of different ways.
The common thread I'm hearing from the artists I interview is that success isn't a primary concern. While some pursue their art in a more businesslike manner than others, it is for all the process of creating that motivates them in their work. Challenging themselves to grow creatively adds impetus to what they do, whether they've been painting, sculpting, photographing or songwriting for two years or twenty.
Surprisingly, I can also challenge my assumptions about success by looking at myself. While I'm not a household name, and my recent gallery participation has been minimal, and in fact I'm not even painting very much, I am still succeeding as an artist. Though it doesn't look the way I expected, I not only create something every day, but I receive an income from my art, and exhibit my created works publicly. And even more interesting, considering there was a time when I had planned to specialize and be exclusively a watercolor artist, my art covers a diverse range. On any given day I can be creating and selling paintings, paper crafts, wooden signs, written work, photographs or graphic design.
This re-definition of success means I'm considering making some changes to my online presence as well. It would be nice to have one single site that incorporates all of my artistic personas, rather than three blogs, a web site and a Facebook fan page. I'll keep you posted as I tweak the idea.
What does success look like for you?