Keys to being a successful artist – live it, work it, be it.


After reading the assigned passage from Eikhof and Haunschild about the artist’s lifestyle, I came across this post by Lori McNee listing 5 common traits of successful artists. She defines them as such:

            1. Art is at the core of their lives—meaning time is carved out of every day to devote to the marketing or creation of their art. Any other un-related employment is merely a means to an end. Their career is being an artist.

            2.They have an understanding of the art world as a business —they not only understand the entrepreneurial aspects of making a living as an artist, but also know the value of networking and relationships.

            3.They have a strong work ethic—they manage themselves, their creative energy, and their resources efficiently– balancing the time to produce and market their work.

            4.They are resilient— they are willing to put in the hard work and wait for results without expecting them to be immediate. They learn from experience and improve on their successes. They also understand that things often happen differently than anticipated and they are flexible in adapting to those changes.

            5. They surround themselves with people who are supportive of their career

They limit involvement with people who are negative about art as a career choice. If the people they surround themselves with have the inclination and the skills to positively affect their art career, the artist can produce better work.


Anyone else notice that skill, talent, or ability isn’t listed?

It highlights several things that were touched upon in our readings as well as validates many observations I had while working as a professional theatre actor. One is that marketing and business skills are just as important as actually creating work. This eludes to the blurring of the lines between bohemian and more traditional work. Another is that successful artists tend to cluster together. They create their own atmosphere for inspiration and success.

 This isn’t to say that an artist who doesn’t effectively market his/her work isn’t an incredible artist, nor am I saying that good art cannot be produced away from other create people. But part of having success in an arts career has much to do with immersing every part of your life in the world of the art. The lifestyle becomes part of the business itself.


-Karyn McNay



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