How Do You Define Success as an Artist?

ladder of success Attempting to define success as an artist is difficult because it is a subjective term that varies widely from person to person. In the recent article, “5 Common Traits of Successful Artists”, you will find an interesting and concise list of traits that are common to most successful artists – however, this is not a formula!

The comments have been about as interesting as the article itself. I had planned to post this follow-up article a bit later, but after receiving the following comment, I decided to share this short but revealing article sooner rather than later…

Elaine stated, “I think you need to begin by clarifying what you mean by ‘successful artist.’ I have a feeling your definition might be different from mine. And the artists I know are ACUTELY aware of the difference between making art and marketing it.”


Well Elaine, thanks for your comment and I hope this article helps answer your question…

By guest author/artist advisor: Aletta de Wal

How Fine Artists Define Success:

When I ask fine artists to define ‘success‘, this is what they tell me that they want:

  • Faith: Conviction that they can produce what they envision, sense or get through a higher source.
  • Followers: People who like their work enough to buy it or tell others about it.
  • Fame: Publicity that draws attention to their work and attracts gallery dealers, art critics, museum curators and writers.
  • Fortune: Income from selling enough work to support themselves comfortably without having any other source of income.

Ask yourself: How can I adapt this idea or way of working to my situation?


To learn more, you can read or listen to Aletta’s interviews of successful artists here:

PS. I just had to share this tweet from a fellow artist on Twitter:
@BrynGerard RT @lorimcneeartist: How Do You Define Success as an Artist? #art #arttip <<When a viewer experiences transcendence.

Stayed tuned for the upcoming article, “How to Overcome Three Common Barriers to Success.” ~Lori

FYI, I always enjoy the wisdom of others…here are a few ‘success’ quotes:

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” ~Mark Victor Hansen

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be”~George Sheehan

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced.” ~Swami Vivekananda

“Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat.” ~Malcolm S. Forbes

You might like to read: The Visual Artist’s Challenge, Balancing Self-Promotion with Gallery Representation, or Newsletter Art Marketing Tips that Work!

2011-08-07T23:05:15+00:00July 19th, 2010|General, Guest Articles|15 Comments


  1. Denise Mancour June 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I have been truly blessed this morning as I have been reading your blogs, tips and helpful ideas for artists…from artists. Thank you for allowing me to share my comments…

    I became successful as I realized that I was given my creative gift from God. I love to paint nature and since nature had been created perfectly from the beginning…I paint through my feelings when I observe the awesome beauty that is everywhere.

    As I learned to “respect” my talent, clients and viewers felt the respect through my art and respond with support. That support renews my spirit to believe in my creativity.

    • Lori McNee June 3, 2011 at 11:26 am

      Hi Denise, I am so grateful that these articles are helping you. That makes it all worth the effort to me…and I really appreciate your comments.

      Yes, it is important that we don’t take our God given talents for granted. We must not ‘hide our light under a bussel’ where it will not be seen. Share it with the world!

      My best-

  2. Meltemi June 12, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Have you ever taken your time to define what your success in your art-world would be?

    There is perhaps a spectrum of what artists want from their art.  Some artists could not care less about ever showing their art. Some want to make enough money from their art so they can give-up their day job and make their mark. Other artists may have an independent source of income, money is not an important factor in their definition of success. They perhaps want recognition from their peers, or critics and so on. To perhaps have their artworks in a gallery somewhere. Some want just to be written about. It is perhaps true that we all want something on this spectrum and not always to be in the same place on it. So perhaps its time to think about what it is that you want for your art?

     Perhaps some of us have underinflated opinions of ourselves as artists and our artworks?
    Perhaps some of us have overinflated opinions of ourselves as artists and our artworks?

    Artists seldom, if ever, make much effort to market themselves or promote their artworks and the creativity that built it. Its completely against their nature. They can’t bring themselves to ask for it either. Some can’t recognize that it even exists for them.

    A bit late, something I wrote 07 December 2010
    An artist trying to define success for themselves may want to have shows, critical reviews, recognition and even sales, but in reality, success for most artists already exists by the mere fact that they have acknowledged that they are artists with the ability to create original artworks.

    Perhaps the next time sitting around in your studio depressing yourself thinking that no one will ever see your artworks or experience them, let alone buy your artwork, the question: why am I doing this? The answer is: I am an artist. I’m one of the luckiest people alive.

    • Lori McNee June 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      I love these thoughts…thanks for posting them here. If you ever wish to compile these ideas into a little inspirational guest post, let me know!


      PS. We really do have the best job in the world!

      • Meltemi August 19, 2011 at 7:25 am

        Oops I missed this reply. I would be delighted. Due to visual constraints my posts are never bigger than a screen-full…

        • Lori McNee August 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm

          Hello Meltemi, blog posts do not always have to be long. Sometimes a post that is around 300 words is refreshing for readers. If you decide to share, you can follow the information here.. or email me directly [email protected]

          Thank you!

          • Meltemi August 20, 2011 at 8:05 am

            Done. I hope you like it and thank you too.

          • Lori McNee September 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

            Hello Meltemi,

            I have not forgotten you…I have been away on a trip for two weeks without my computer. I am so behind on blogging! I will be in touch when I get caught up.


          • Meltemi September 7, 2011 at 8:26 am

            There is absolutely nothing wrong in getting away from it all and exiting the virtual world. We too do this every time we are on vacation. No: internet, no phone, no papers, no TV news etc. 30 days with 800 mature people on a cruise liner was absolute bliss…

            And we do not tell anyone that we are away too etc…

  3. Meltemi June 12, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Drat its not in the right order…

  4. David Werimo June 5, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Success in art is debatable indeed because to some extent it is subjective though their are other universal ones like you have mentioned above. i do agree with these though their will always be one or more traits added to the list with each individual artist.

    • Lori McNee June 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      Definitely, David. Thank you for commenting!

Comments are closed.