Talent, skill and technique are just a fraction of what it takes to be have a successful art career. All great artists that have left a lasting impression on the art industry have the same thought process. In this article, we pull insights from great artists to establish a general path to having a successful art career.
Art before ego.
Legendary Minimalist painter Agnes Martin believed in putting art before ego. After repelling the New York art scene and watching other artists’egos swell out of control, Martin found solace in the remote countryside of Taos, New Mexico where she was able to focus on her art in a life that was generally solitary.
In an interview with Chuck Smith and Sono Kuwayama, Martin recalls “I have sometimes, in my mind, put myself ahead of my work and have suffered in consequence…I thought me, meand I suffered and the work suffered and for that I suffered more.”
Take critiques with a grain of salt.
Italian artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, considered by some the greatest living artist of his time, was extremely focused on his work. In order to stay focused, Michelangelo had to disregard his critics. He took pleasure in responding to others by outdoing them, taking all critiques with a grain of salt.
In the words of Michelangelo, “Critique by creating.” If you’d like to see your art career thrive, you have to know when to stop listening to others’ opinions of your work and start believing whole-heartedly in your own craft.
Be true to yourself.
Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh is the epitome of an artist who stayed true to his art throughout the entirety of his life. His fame didn’t come until after his death. Van Gogh wrote to his younger brother Theo, “I’ve longed to be stylish, but on second thought I say no—just let me be myself—and express rough, yet true things with rough workmanship.”
Being honest with yourself and your art is what will take your craft to the next level. Van Gogh’s recognition was past due, but without a doubt, came in due time.
Don’t wait for inspiration.
Inspiration is arguably the number one roadblock amongst artists. While most artists wait around for inspiration, French artist Henri Matisse says, “Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.”
The most important aspect to creating great work is in the action of creating, not in waiting. The key to overcoming a lack of inspiration is simply to pick up your materials get to work.
Lean into the chaos.
Understanding that like art, your life is neither this nor that, neither black nor white, but a whirlpool of color and chaos that is to be embraced. Priscilla Frank of the Huffington Post frames Frida Kahlo’s views and writes “Life coach Kahlo would tell you that gentle and harsh can be combined, ugliness and beauty easily intermixed. That your life, like her artwork, need not be understood through a single lens. It’s an incredibly liberating idea: to abandon singular identities and lean into the chaos.”
In short, try not to departmentalize yourself and your art career. In doing so, you limit your potential. Embrace the struggle and the chaos of being an artist and use it in your art. You’ll be surprised at what you are able to create.