Artistic Success – Get Some Help

Success is different for everybody, and as an artist you probably do most things yourself either by choice or by necessity. One thing about success that you can count on is the fact that you are going to need  help at some point, or maybe at every step. This whole idea that an artist can paint away in their studio day after day and then magically get “discovered” and never have to do anything but simply paint is just folly. Put in the work and get some help. Embrace help and make the most of that help…


“Looking North From the Top of Mt. Spokane”, Craig Shillam, oil/canvas, 10″ x 10″

Success – Help Can Come in Many Ways

Whether help comes in the form some good advice,  a teacher, a collector, or any of a number of other forms, you can probably get closer to the success you are seeking if  you resist the allure of trying to do everything yourself. I know, I’ve tried. There are probably few people you know that are more bull-headed and independent than myself. I have probably made every mistake in the book, tried “breaking rules” as I went, and have cost myself years by being so damn stubborn. But I’m learning.

This doesn’t mean going around kissing ass and trying to be somebody you are not.

Here are some ideas for you to consider when building your team, your brain trust, your inner circle, your tribe.

  1. First make sure you put in the work. It’s pretty hard to be success at anything if you don’t put in the effort to help yourself.
  2. Attempt to latch on to a worthwhile mentor. A mentor is someone you can trust to give you their honest opinion based on knowledge and experience, even if it’s not what you want to hear. A mentor can also teach you and help you develop into someone you could not be otherwise.
  3. If you are doing anything on the computer, such as a website or blog, work towards getting a computer savvy person to help you with all the technical stuff. The internet and software are always changing, and most artists have enough on their plate already without having to keep up with html code or the latest google update.
  4. It can be a huge help to know someone who is very money smart that you can bounce financial decisions off of. Someone who has had some success financially that you can trust when it comes to a mortgage, an IRA, insurance, investments, etc.
  5. Who can you go to when life has kicked you in the gut? Identify that person or persons who believe in you and whatever success you’re trying to achieve. Moral support and/or a kick in the butt to get goin’ again.
  6. Gallery owners/Art Dealers/Collectors. People who love art and are involved in art all the time. Sometimes these relationships don’t come easy and take time. These relationships can be tricky and need to be cultivated, but can also be very rewarding and helpful to you.
  7. Other Artists. You probably know that a wealth of information can be learned from other artists. Good and not so good. In my opinion it’s just as important to know what not to do as it is what to do. The more success an artist has had, the more you will want to get to know that person (in most cases).
  8. A Lawyer. Yes there may come a time when you need advice on a big project, or worse. Sounds expensive and scary, but knowing an attorney may be a life saver.

Success – Don’t try to do it all by Yourself

Whatever success is to you, define it, go for it and don’t apologize for it. Creative people in other lines of work (actors and musicians for example) have managers, lawyers, booking agents, publicists, trainers, etc. They don’t do it all themselves. Neither should you or I.

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