I like to think that every artist, no matter their skill set, has something they can improve upon. No one is ever perfect in their personal or professional lives, and striving to improve some aspect of that can help you become a better artist and person in general.
I also think it’s worth noting that there are some things we need to change collectively. For too long, the modern art scene has been normalizing unhealthy habits or behaviors, and I think it’s time to redefine that. If you’re looking to become a successful artist, in my opinion, here’s how you can:
1. Get more sleep!
This is number one on my list of ways to become a successful artist because many of us need to get much more sleep. In fact, a study was released by the CDC that 1 in 3 people aren’t getting the sleep that they need. As an artist, sleep is critical not only for your overall well being, but most importantly your creative energy! It’s understandable when deadlines or other projects force you to bare sleepless nights, however, it’s important to not make this cycle into a habit because it can have a serious negative impact in the long run. Sleep is important, so make sure you find a way to plan accordingly. I personally find that a whiteboard calendar helps me plan out projects and other goals into feasible tasks throughout the month.
2. Take a break more often.
I often forget to do this myself, and I understand those who do the same. Sometimes, you get so involved with an art project, and so focused, that hours pass by. Eventually, you forget to eat or ignore the cramps in your body from being in one position for too long. However, it’s important to give yourself a break, especially if you’ve been working on something for a prolonged period of time. The best thing you can do is to step away, do something else, and come back to it with fresh eyes.
Often I’ve found myself being overly critical of artwork that I’ve been working on for hours, and it’s at that point I recognize that I need to stop what I’m doing and move on to something else.
Meditate, go for a jog, relax and read a book, take a nap, visit friends, watch a movie, or simply do whatever makes you happy. I can certainly attest that when I when I give myself a break, I come back with a different mindset and my art doesn’t look as “terrible” as I thought it did hours prior.
The worst thing you can do is to suffer from a burn out because you’re mentally exhausted. If it’s hard to recognize your “breaking point”, set an alarm or timer to remind yourself to at least get up, stretch, and eat.
3. Keep learning.
In order to be successful, and stay good at your craft, you need to keep learning! Plus, with the vast amount of online educational resources today, there’s no reason why you can’t learn or accomplish something new with your artistic abilities. As a digital artist, I know how important it is to stay up to date with technology and tools because my medium revolves it.
Most of the work I currently make is, for the most part, self taught. I did go to art school and gained a few opportunities that helped to shape who I am today, but ultimately most of my artistic successes came through self learning. There are copious amounts of art tutorials, videos, blogs, and forums online that can help you meet your artistic goals.
Additionally, even if you can’t find your answers through a tutorial or something of the sort, there are millions of experienced artists online who can guide you. This has to be my favorite thing about the internet today, and while it doesn’t go without its controversies, I would have not found the tools or software I currently use today.
Sure, you always run the risk of never receiving a response from an artist, but it doesn’t hurt to reach out about their process. More than not, they’ll be happy to share it with you!
4. Change your mindset.
We can be our worst critics sometimes, and having a mindset that demeans or criticizes our own work without any real value puts us in a cycle that stunts our artistic growth. By convincing ourselves we’re “terrible” at what we’re currently doing, we’ve already thrown in the towel to give up. Your mindset can limit your growth, and ultimately limits your threshold of artistic success.
For example, it’s okay if you don’t like how you draw noses, but holding onto negative comments you have about your work does not foster success. Alternatively, challenge yourself to understand why you dislike how you draw noses. Is it the form? Your linework? Your style? Whatever it may be, work to improve through practice and studies, rather than limit yourself with a negative attitude.
You can change your mindset by being open to criticism and failure, and remembering to learn from such events. You can also change your mindset by accepting that not every single person will like or even understand your work and that’s completely okay, instead, focus on the people who do support you in your creative endeavors.
Finally, stop comparing yourself to other artists. There will always be someone who is better, faster, or more creative than you, and that certainly doesn’t mean you’re of any less value to the art community.
If you feel stuck in this perpetual cycle of frustration that you’ll never be as good as an artist you idolize, I urge you to look at their process work. Every great animation, video game, illustration, comic, etc. all started with some sort of rough scribble. We all begin at the same starting point, some are further ahead in the race than you, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t face the same struggles or hardships as you.
5. Don’t neglect your health.
Your body and mind need the right fuel to stay productive and creative, so why would you hinder that by giving it food void of any nutrition? I understand that fresh fruit and vegetables, especially when purchased from a grocery store, are outrageously expensive. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add some nutrients into your daily meals.
Bananas are a very cheap way to fuel your body with nutrition, and for on the go affordable meals, I often buy frozen vegetable mixes or protein for a filling meal.
Additionally, beans, rice, and granola or oats are also other affordable foods you can include in your diet.
I’m not saying to break the bank here or am trying to dictate what you eat, but there are healthy and affordable ways to give your body the nutrition it deserves. Look for sales, coupon, and buy frozen or canned produce over fresh. I understand that not everyone has the time or budget to incorporate organic, top of the line food brands into their lives, but you can still try to give your body the nutrition it needs with sensible spending and research.
6. Promote yourself online.
I feel this is something many artists neglect to do, and they should not. There are a multitude of platforms online where you can connect with other artists or diverse networks of people who can become your supporters or clients.
Before you get started, you’ll need understand how these platforms and communities work, because sharing your artwork on Instagram is a much different experience than sharing it on YouTube. Additionally, before you upload anything online, always make sure you sign or watermark your work. The online world has brought a lot of success for independent and small artists. However, it hasn’t come without problems such as theft and fraud. Be vigilant and smart, but don’t be scared to share your work with online communities, it’s a great way to get a name for yourself.
I hope these tips help you on your path to becoming a successful artist. I believe that success comes to those who have a good work-life balance in their life. What you tips will you use to help yourself become a better artist? Are there any tips that I should add? Please let me know in the comments below!