Although this blog post is titled the seven practices of successful artists, it could equally be titled the seven practices for a successful life. The principals, you see, are the same. Art, life, creativity. It all wells from the same spring.
Success as an artist (or in life), in my opinion, could be defined as the continued expansion of who you are. Sure, it could include fame, fortune and power, but true success only occurs in conjunction with peace, joy, wellbeing and contribution to your community. Success will result in a profound ability to expand the world.
Are you picking up what I’m laying down?
Success, folks, is not just money in the bank, number of paintings sold, who knows your name. It is much, much bigger than that. Those material things that exist outside of ourselves are a side effect of success, not a measure in themselves.
Success has an effortlessness to it. Anything that requires struggle, hardship, pain, damage to others or yourself, has nothing to do with success. Please don’t confuse that with hard work, intense commitment + daily practice. Those things can be done inside a realm of ease, joy, focus, peace and harmony. You know the difference, I know you do.
The question this begs is: what practices can I implement to create effortless success as an artist? How can I expand who I am, be peaceful, create wellbeing in myself and my community?
Over the next few months, I will write about each of the seven practices that I’ve noticed in successful artists (and people in general) and am making an effort to include in my own life. The practices are in no particular order.
Practice one: Be giving
You’ll have heard it before. Pay it forward. Give back. I mean pretty much every religion in the world preachers the power of tithing. That which you give, you will get back, in spades. Or something like that.
But human beings are beginning to understand the science – in particular physics – behind giving, and why it’s Good For Us. Or, in other words, why it leads to success.
The physics is pretty simple: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
And you know how that works:
- The more you give, the more you get back.
- Those organisations that have giving as a core philosophy have less sick days, more staff retention, better brand awareness.
- People who smile more, have more friends.
- People who regularly volunteer have better health, higher incomes & report less stress in their lives. No brainer really.
So how does that translate to your art practice?
Choose one day a week. Do something that day to GIVE. Do it every week whether you feel like it or not. Keep going. Give whatever the weather.
Here’s the clincher though. Lean in. Pay attention. Giving to try to be more successful doesn’t work. Giving to simply give does. Meditate on that. Mull it over. Read what Ariana Huffington says. What Deepak Chopra says. James Altucher nails it. Google it. Ask your friends.
It’s weird, but it works.
Here’s what I do:
I hold fundraising art shows. I’m currently offering a percentage of all works sold over Easter to the Kindy my four year old goes to. If you’d like to support us, hop on over here to check it out.
I give complements as often as I can.
I write thank-you notes.
I attempt to be helpful on social media.
I volunteer to help at my community art gallery.
When an opportunity comes up to help and I can, I say yes (it’s not my nature to say yes, but it’s getting easier with practice).