The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Artists

by John R. Math on October 18, 2010

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In the early 1990’s Steven Covey wrote a book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” which became a huge best seller and still sells well today. It was a book that provided a holistic and a principled approach for problem solving, living and adapting to change by seeing opportunities rather than problems.

I believe that there are also seven habits which artists should follow to become highly effective and successful. Though I am detailing seven habits, I am sure that the readers of this article can contribute other successful “habits” as well.

The seven habits of highly effective and successful artists are:

1.   Having a passion for your art: Foremost, the artist must have a passion for their art and 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. But, if you are passionate about what you do, these issues will be perceived as detours to success, rather than “problems”.

2.  Being focused on your art: A successful artist will not be distracted from their art and their commitment to 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.  Having a vision of your success: Artists who are successful had a vision and saw themselves achieving great things in their chosen profession. Despite any roadblocks, problems or defeats, their vision kept them working towards their goal. Even after that artist has achieved their goals, a successful artist will create new goals and a new vision to be achieved.

4.  Being persistent in the face of adversity: Most people in the face of adversity quit. People who got past the adversity did so because they persisted on towards their goal. Persistence is the difference between a successful artist and an artist who quits. The quitter loses focus and their vision.

5.   Professionalism in all dealings: A successful artist is a professional in all of their dealings with the public, gallery owners, art reps and with suppliers. It is simple, if they were not professional, then they would not be successful for very long.

6.  Is ready to maximize opportunities: A successful artist is prepared and ready to maximize and leverage any opportunities that come their way. Whether it is to fill in quickly for another artist at a gallery, give an interview, and writes 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 will be or become successful.

7.  Understanding that art is a business: Successful artists see themselves as business people. They understand that other people who they are connected with in the art world are also business people and they conduct themselves in that manner too. Now more than ever in today’s marketplace art is a business. Art is a competitive business and an artist will learn how to successfully operate it as such or they will eventually fail.

As I said previously, there are other habits and traits of successful artists beyond what I have outlined above. But, if an artist is talented and applies these 7 habits to their craft, they will be successful.

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