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Your Personal Definition of Success

by Lori Woodward Simons on 10/16/2008 1:40:44 PM

Today's Post is by Lori Woodward Simons, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.

In the movie, You've Got Mail, Tom Hanks has a mantra, “It's not personal, it's business”.

Because I am a creative type, the business of finding a market for my artwork is entirely personal. It doesn't make sense to half-wittingly adhere to someone else's business plan for my life and art, and it does me no good to accomplish a plan that won't satisfy my goals and desires. Rather, it is imperative that I have a crystal clear understanding of what the word Success means to me. 

Success often means different things for different artists. A few years ago, I conducted a personal survey using 6 of my professional artist friends as subjects. I asked this simple question: What is your personal definition of Success? Although, each would admit that making money was near the top of the list, the most common answer had to do with the quality and subject matter of their artwork. 

While some portraitists adore painting their subjects, many of them get swept up into a market that they later regret having entered. Commissions are really about painting for someone else's taste and vision, but the money is so good.!  Now I am willing to bet that if these artists were willing to risk a temporary drop in income, that each could be making an equally good of a living painting subjects that move them emotionally. 

Taking this into consideration, it seems logical that before I design a marketing plan for myself, that I keep my personal definition of success in mind  – because it just doesn't make sense to design my plan around someone else's concept of what it means to have 'made it' as an artist. First and foremost, I must be clear about what will make me happy in the long run, or else I'm wasting my time on my business plan. Here are a few questions I ask myself throughout the year – to keep me on my own track.

What are some of the things that I'd like to do during my lifetime, aside from my art career, that I'd feel sorry about if I didn't get to do?

If all my dreams came true, what would my artwork look like, how would I sell it and where?

How many hours a week would I like to spend in my studio working?

How can I combine my life's dreams with my art career? Am I currently good enough to compete in my “dream's come true” arena?

These questions, like their answers, are personal. If you were to list your answers, the results are likely to be different than mine, but I'll give at least one of my answers here.

When considering the last question listed above, I'd have to honestly admit that I don't feel quite ready to take on my “dreams come true” gallery. This would probably be Trailside Galleries in Scottsdale. You might be asking, Well, why doesn't she think she's ready for such a place? For one: I don't have a large enough body of work at this point to submit to a gallery for consideration. Why not? Because I don't spend enough hours in the studio to produce 50 or more dynamite paintings a year. I'm just not ready for this venue, and I'm not at all sure that I'm cut out to spend 40 hours/week alone in my studio.

But does that mean I'm not ready for any venue? Not at all. I also would be very happy selling on my own through studio shows and my web site, and with these kinds of outlets, I'd have the freedom to paint what I want – when I want.
Now if I continued answering all my personal questions on this page, you'd be yawning pretty quickly. So perhaps it's a good time for you, the reader, to start brainstorming – come up with your own questions, answers and personal plan and definition of success. Design a business plan to make all your dreams come true... and remember, the fulfillment might be in Scottsdale or it might just be in your own backyard. Find your personal definition of success.

-Lori Woodward Simons

Editor's Note:  Wouldn't it be great if there were a precise formula for success? But, as Lori points out, every artist's path is different. That's why I'd Rather Be in the Studio!, the book by Alyson Stanfield, provides easy-to-follow self-promotion practices that help you find your way at any point in your career. Match Internet marketing strategies with sincere personal skills to take charge of your career.
Get Your Copy of I'd Rather Be in the Studio!:

Related Posts:

Chasing the Sweet Embrace of Success by Developing Habits

The WHY, WHAT, HOW Path to Success

Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Effective People

Alyson Stanfield's Six Principles of no-excuses art marketing

13 Sure-Fire Rules to Create Success for the Emerging Artist


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Topics: art marketing | creativity | inspiration | Lori Woodward 

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Bob Ragland
via web
I really like columns on personal success. I have come to the conclusion that my own definition of success, is the ability to be an artist everyday and to be able to pay my way with my artistic efforts. In todays world, to make something with my hands and once in awhile get some money for the art is so special. I don't take this good fortune for granted, not ever. I live the art life every day on purpose. So far, sooooo good.
Bob Ragland-NON-starving artist

Anita Bottrell
via web
Success to me is being able to do something I love. Not everything I do is wonderful, but when you see the finished work and sayy "yes, that is what I had invisioned", then that is a success. It has been said by some artist, that without formal training you are not professional, thus your work is not of quaility. I say to this, you are a success if you live your life the way you want, make beautiful art, and share it with the world. I may have a job that helps support my pursuit of art, this does not mean that I give my life of an artist less value.
In that "perfect world" you would spend all day in the studio cranking out art, but I think without living in the real world you don't have the insight.
Never regret the roads you go down, or on. Creating the art that tells the story is what it's about. When you can do that, that is success.

Darrell Dalton
via web
I 65 years young, but, my body say your not, I've been painting for it seem all my life. I am retired and find out I am way behind on knowing how to do new ways of reaching a new generation of clients. I always worked full time and word of mouth was the only way i knew at that time. I know computors have been out relatively short time. I have not been worried of finding clients but I know not getting the price for my work. It was like where I go from here? I settled on doing Portraitures in oil. I like to see peoples faces when i finish a painting and to know then I creatated something they are proud to show to their family and fiends. I enjoy reading these E-Mail newsletters. I have been getting new ideas, but knowing how to do them is a nother thing, Websites, blogs, jioning in on these new ways are mind boggling Lol. Well I hope I didn't boar you. I'm keeping on keeping on.

via web
In painting abstract art, I have come to the conclusion that it is not about understanding what the artist means, so much as the communication it presents to the person who views the art and what it touches in them. I consider art an extension of my spiritual beliefs. Painting has given me the gift of reconnecting with the child in me who loves to play. I believe most people, who can turn off the chatter of the mind and come into alignment with their inner wisdom, will understand the magic of the abstract.

Jo Allebach
via web
I know what you about being baffled with all this communication on all these "social media". Believe it or not I am 53 and have been on line since 1992 but this tweeting and facebook, etc has just sprung right past me. I will have to work at it and give up some of my studio time which is what keeps me alive. I'll be on alert for all the help I can get.

Diane Donicht Vestin
You know what? You have a "lot" of interesting articles and a "lot" of good and trashy paintings put up on your blog. I know you have a few of mine, but I have never seen them put up for glancing at. Maybe all this talk,talk,talk about marketing would be helpful to artists who have paintings in your library from competitions ago or whatever, but I would be grateful if you would put up just one, yes, just one of mine. I am a fine artist and consider myself one. I am as good or better than the best of them. I don't mean to sound haughty, but that's the kind of person I am. So, if you don't like me, that's ok. Just show me some of my work!

Sincerely and demanding,

Diane Donicht Vestin

Michelle Basic Hendry
Success to me is being able to make a living from what I love to do.

My ambitions would be to get a 'big' gallery (I am not ready yet either) and make work that matters. As long as I am enjoying the process, achieving that would be a part of that success!


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