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Friday, July 1, 2011


What makes an artist successful?  It all hinges on one's definition of success. As I see it, there are three prerequisites for success as an artist. The first is good eye-hand coordination. Sometimes we call this the ability to draw easily and well. It is so fundamental that sometimes artist come to take it for granted in their discussions of art, but without it, work becomes too difficult, too time consuming, and thus too "dear" to the artist to part with.   
The second prerequisite is a creative streak. I think all artists must have a yearning for immortality, that is, a wish that what they have to say in paint (or whatever medium) will live on after them and be treasured, enjoyed, and understood by posterity. That speaks of a strong ego. It also speaks of a strong intellect. Uncreative art seldom survives; and, like the artist who has difficulty drawing, if the creative effort is exceptionally difficult, then the work again becomes too time consuming and thus too "dear" to the artist to part with.   
And the third prerequisite is a strong work ethic. Art attracts lazy people. I've seen it dozens of times. Art can be fun, can bring pleasure, can bestow a great deal of joy upon the artist, but it is after all, artwork. The artist who doesn't work much doesn't gain experience, doesn't get appreciably better at his or her art, and also doesn't produce a sufficient quantity of work. Thus, what he or she does produce is too "dear" for the artist to part with.   
What we have, then, is a sort of tripod. Theoretically, the most successful artists are those with three equally strong, (or long) legs upon which to build a career. Unfortunately, I've never met an artist yet whose "legs" are all the same length. Each of us have more length in one or two of these "legs" and are inevitably weaker in the others. That's what makes us (and our art) all so different, and what breeds differing degrees, and definitions of success.  

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