8 Secrets of a Successful Artist’s DNA

by John R. Math on May 12, 2011

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Most successful artists have worked very hard on their craft in order to get where they are. I believe that we inherit our “creative” genes from our families and that we learn (through trial and error and through experience) how to be a successful artist through our traits and habits of “operating” an art business.

Genetics is the study of genes, and the science of genetics tries to explain to us exactly what they are and how genes work. Our genes dictate how we inherit features from our immediate family and from our ancestors. The science of genetics tries to identify which features are inherited, and how these features are passed from generation to generation.

In genetics, a feature of a living thing is called a “trait” and some traits are inherited through our genes and other traits will come from interactions between our genes and our environment. The combination of inherited genes and environmental circumstance are called phenotypes and are observable behaviors.

We will assume that we have inherited the “Creative” gene from our ancestors, as stated above and that we have the ability to alter our genes through our environment. In this article, our habits and traits will be examined, discussed and compared to the habits and traits of successful artists.

1. A successful artist has established achievable short term and long term goals. These established goals are written down and reviewed periodically by the artist in order to judge, grade and gauge themselves in achieving their goals.

2. A successful artist is focused on their art and will not be distracted from their purpose and to their commitment in achieving their goals. To be successful at most things requires a focus and a “singleness of purpose.” Successful artists have this focus, as their art is a priority in their lives.

3. A successful artist will have a passion for their art and a passion for everything else that is associated with being an artist. The passionate artist realizes that in order to be successful they will be required to do things like marketing, bookkeeping and selling, even when they rather be creating. They are willing to do these “operational” things because they know that it will get them closer to their achievable goals (see #1 above).

4. A successful artist is professional in all of their dealings with the general public, with all gallery owners, with art reps and with suppliers. Why is this? The artist realizes that in order to market and become a brand a successful artist needs to be professional with everyone, in order to protect their brand. With social media, networking and viral media being what it is today, an artist can be minimized quickly through negative publicity and through negative digital media.

5. A successful artist will identify, capitalize and leverage any opportunities that may come their way. Successful artists will see and take advantage of opportunities to network, promote and brand their artwork. The artist who is engaged and ready to capitalize on opportunities when they come along will be or will eventually become successful.

6. Artists who are successful, along with their goals visualize themselves as achieving great things in their chosen profession. If the artist does experience (and they will) any roadblocks, problems or defeats, they continue visualizing and keep working towards their goals.

7. Successful artists do not quit when they hit a roadblock or problem. Most people in the face of adversity will quit, whereas a successful artist will see this is a chance to learn, grow or that the problem or set-back is a simple delay in achieving their goals. Persistence is the difference between a successful artist and an artist who quits. The quitter simply lost their desire, focus and their original vision.

8. Successful artists see themselves as business people. They understand and embrace the fact that art is a competitive business and they realize that they will have to learn how to successfully operate their art as a business. They are also willing to acquire the skills and expertise to become successful.

Though you are a super creative person and you have chosen to be an artist these characteristics are not enough to be successful in today’s competitive art business. Through successful habits and traits an artist can change their “Successful Art DNA” and overcome the usual operational and marketing problems which most artists experience.

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