7 Habits of Highly Effective Artists

This article was originally posted in 2010 but has been updated and revised as of June 2020.

Steven Covey’s early 1990’s, best-selling book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” provided a holistic and principled approach to problem-solving, living and adapting to change by seeing opportunities rather than problems.

The book became a huge bestseller and still sells well today, even almost 30 years later. This is because the advice offered in the book still resonates. In that helpful spirit, below we have highlighted seven habits which we believe artists should follow to become highly effective and successful. Although we are detailing only seven habits, the readers of this article may have ideas on other successful “habits” as well.

The seven habits of highly effective and successful artists are:

  1.  Having a passion for your art: First, artists must have a passion for their art and everything that is associated with being an artist. Why is this? It is because there will be problems, barriers, and challenges to being an artist. However, if you are passionate about what you do, these issues will be perceived as detours to success, rather than “problems”.
  2. Being focused on your art: Successful artists will not be distracted from their art and their commitment to achieving their goals. To be successful, most things requires a focus and a “singleness of purpose”. Successful artists have this focus, as their art is a priority in their lives.
  3. Having a vision of your success: Artists who are successful had a vision and saw themselves achieving great things in their chosen profession. Despite any roadblocks, problems or defeats, their vision kept them working towards their goal. Even after artists have achieved their goals, the successful ones will create new goals and new visions to be achieved.
  4. Being persistent in the face of adversity: Most people in the face of adversity quit. People who got past the adversity did so because they persisted on towards their goal. Persistence is the difference between a successful artists and artists who quits. The quitters lose focus and their vision.
  5.  Professionalism in all dealings: Successful artists are professional in all of their dealings with the public, gallery owners, art reps and with suppliers. It is simple, if they were not professional, then they would not be successful for very long.
  6. Ready to maximize opportunities: Successful artists are prepared and ready to maximize and leverage any opportunities that come their way. Whether it is to fill in quickly for another artist at a gallery, give an interview, write an article for a blog or to give a speech to a group, successful artists see that as an opportunity to network, promote and brand their artwork. Unsuccessful artists see those not as opportunities but rather something that interrupts what they were doing! The artist who is engaged and ready to capitalize on opportunities when they come along will be or become successful.
  7. Understanding that art is a business: Successful artists see themselves as business people. They understand that other people, who they are connected to within the art world, are also business people and they conduct themselves in that manner too. Now more than ever in today’s marketplace art is a business. Art is a competitive business and artists must learn how to successfully operate it or they will eventually fail.

There are certainly other habits and traits of successful artists beyond what we have outlined above. However, if artists are talented and apply these 7 habits to their craft, they will be more likely to be successful.

After reading this article, please feel free to share with us any of your habits that you feel have made you more effective and successful in your art and career.

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