Artists who do not feel successful seem to run into 3 common barriers, mostly self-generated.

The good news is that each of these barriers has an antidote that you already have within your grasp to becoming a successful artist.

Barrier # 1: Wanting Too Much Too Soon

  • Some artists are unrealistic about what is possible in a certain time frame and are impatient about the results they are getting.
  • They want to sell immediately, sometimes before they even have a signature style. If they have art skills, they get comfortable with a certain style and level of production.
  • They are not always open to critiques/suggestions about being more prolific, creating work in different styles or creating multiples of their work to have more pieces available.
  • They do not put in the hours. They are not consistent about what they do or how they do it, so their career never gains momentum.

The antidote:

Be clear about where you are before you decide where you want to go. Once you are clear, decide where you want to be at the end of your career. Now look at the gap between the two. Work backwards and write down the steps you need to take. Then start taking one step at a time. Be realistic about what you can take on so that you can see progress and feel success as you build your career.

Barrier # 2: Wanting to do too much without enough resources.

  • Most artists start off solo and think that they can build a 6-figure career that way. Those who take on too many tasks succumb to overwhelm and burn out before they experience success.
  • They resist investing in their skills, tools and materials or business skills.
  • They do not delegate less creative tasks to assistants or business professionals like web designers, accountants or artist advisors.
  • They interpret common art career events such as lack of sales, not winning awards or galleries not accepting their work for exhibit, as personal or artistic rejection.

The antidote:

Write down your goals for the year. Break them down into the tasks it will take to achieve each goal. Estimate the time it will take to do each step. Schedule tasks as if they were appointments on your calendar. If you see there are too many tasks to fit your work time, spread them out, get help or take smaller steps.

Barrier # 3: Wanting someone else to take responsibility for the business side.

  • Many artists tell me that they want a gallery dealer or artist representative so that they can abandon all business tasks and focus only on making art.
  • They tend to buy into many of the myths about artists as pure creators who deserve special treatment.
  • They are waiting for one big break.  They believe that there is a  silver bullet.  They hope for a miracle   that someone will discover them and save them from years of hard work.
  • They want representation as soon as they make a few sales. They fail to understand that they need to build a resume and be able to demonstrate that they are good business partners.

The antidote:

Understand that you are in charge of your art career, whether or not you have representation. If you do get a gallery dealer or artist representative to exhibit and sell your work, know that you are a business partner not a ward in their care.

“Eighty percent of success is in your mind, the rest is taking action to bring it into being.”

So let your mantra be:

  • Decide.
  • Act.
  • Learn.
  • Adjust.
  • Rinse & Repeat as Needed!


By guest author/Aletta de Wal is a popular Artist Career Trainging Advisor and guest author for To learn more, you can read or listen to Aletta’s interviews of successful artists here:

Thanks again Aletta! I appreciate you sharing your knowledge here with my readers. ~Lori 🙂

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