How to succeed as an Artist

I was abroad doing my masters. One evening at the restaurant where I used to wait tables, I overheard a guy say to his daughter, who I assume was trying to make a career in art. “Artists don’t make money. You will barely make ends meet.” There were more such discouraging statements that followed. All driving home the same point.

The first one hit me hard. So hard, that I instantly got lost in a bunch of thoughts. It blurred out all the noise around me. I thought to myself, is that really true? Made me sad for a moment. My inner instincts have always been to rebel against the easy and ordinary, I really wanted to go to the girl and whisper in her ears. “Don’t Listen to your father, go follow your passion”.

I started thinking of ways to write a little note on a tissue and slide it in with her dish. The guy who was serving her table was a friend, so I had it all planned out in my head. Only Until, my abusive boss yelled at me to go take care of a silly customer, who I had apparently ignored while being lost in thoughts.

Reality struck, After all I was a waiter there. With a uniform that had a faded restaurant logo that made me look like I needed help in life.

Anyway, fast forward to today.

As unreal as it sounds, Most of the work I do is with Artists. We see all kinds of them everyday. I have personally interacted with more than 200+ artists who are full time and may be double the number of people who were considering to move into some form of art.

We’ve learnt a bunch of things in the process that we think is valuable to anyone considering or trying to make a career in Art.

MARKET

  • If there was any time in history to be an artist and pursue your passion, it is now. There are more tools, courses, companies and entire industry ecosystems that exist today than they did ever before.

 

  • Consumer’s are more aware than they have ever been about the finer things in life. It may be music, comedy, design, food – almost anything that can be classified as art.

INDIVIDUAL

  •  Ambition: We’ve met very few artists who are really driven and motivated. May be this is because they are made to believe their drive will not get them anywhere. This needs to change. I think there should be no difference in motivation, drive and ambition between considering art, joining the army or starting a business. Everything requires hard work and the right mindset. Everything has the potential to turn out supremely rewarding.

 

  • Consistency: All the successful artists we’ve worked with, have put in efforts consistently over long periods of time. They look like overnight successes but usually overnight = 3 – 5 years of constantly refining ones craft. Here is a good article that will help you be more consistent.

 

  • Trust: What separates a successful artist from the struggling one is that the ones who are successful have the ability to surround themselves with people who are trustworthy and encouraging. They are very clear about where their weaknesses lie. They don’t mind admitting it and work with artist management companies, personal managers or other such organisations who protect their interests and ensure growth is delivered. I always believe, trust begets loyalty. Trust people. It’s not such a bad world after all. And don’t try to do everything on your own.

 

  • Create Value: This is fundamental. Your success as an artist will depend on the kind of value you are able to create for your clients. In most cases it is value creation and in some it is solving a problem. A musician or an actor satisfies the need for people to be entertained. They make people feel a certain way. So that’s a problem solved. While it is important to stay true to your art, it is also important to keep clients interests and needs in mind. Many artists aren’t able to comprehend this and ending up with unhappy outcomes and eventually a career devoid of possibilities.

 

  • Be so good, they can’t ignore you: Read this career and life changing book. Some book notes here.