Five Essential Cs for a Successful Art Career


For several decades I have studied the behavior of successful artists and have learned there are certain traits they all have in common. Art education and talent alone will not guarantee a successful art career. Here are a few essential building blocks for success that work for me and many artists I know:


Artists who have an unwavering commitment to stay focused on their priorities accomplish their objectives. They begin with laying the foundation with a business plan. Read “How to Write Your Art Business Plan”

Make it a daily habit to review and reinforce your creative, career and financial goals. Arm yourself with a combination of practical knowledge and follow through with daily action steps. Strive to continuously build and nurture your professional relationships. Read: “11 Facts Artists Need to Know About People”


Success does not reward timidity so dare to step outside your comfort zone. Raise the volume on self-promotion. Seek positive role models and mentors and aspire to be more like them.

Discover motivation in stories about artists who have triumphed over adversity. Read an article I wrote about the bravery of artists Chuck Close and Frida Kahlo titled “Turning Tragedy and Pain Into Purpose”


Art collectors are attracted to artists who radiate confidence like bees are drawn to flowers. The best competitors are those who possess a passionate desire and motivation to excel. Build your confidence muscles and self-esteem the way an Olympic champion does.

Nothing sabotages an artist’s career more than self-doubt. Eliminate your need for approval and acceptance. Trust and follow your creative instincts. Be brave and follow your artistic vision. Ignore the critical inner voices and the judgmental naysayers.


If you want to become a serious professional artist, avoid the temptation to jump from one creative direction to another. If you spread yourself all over the creative map you’ll have to work much harder to target your collectors, galleries and opportunities for recognition.

Develop a consistent, cohesive body of work that represents your unique vision. Also develop an equally cohesive marketing approach to sell and exhibit in the most appropriate venues. Read “26 Tips: How to Write Your Artist’s Statement”

Artist Mallory Rich ( has achieved a recognizable signature style and subsequently has many collectors because she is clear about her artistic objective: “to capture the elusive and complex quality of light, shadow and atmosphere.”


Successful creative individuals are receptive to change. They apply new methods of problem solving, embrace new art materials and technology, and keep abreast of current art world events.

If a plan, behavior, attitude or strategy isn’t working, tap into your innate strength and wisdom to alter or replace it. Make a commitment to periodically examine your ineffective habits and consider other proactive alternatives. Learn to be as flexible as a willow tree and you will never be uprooted!

Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, is the author of several books and publications that can be found on Manhattan Arts International ( She is also the curator of juried exhibitions including those related to “The Healing Power of ART.” She offers advice to artists in private consultations and on her blog at She invites you to follow her on Twitter @reneephillipsny, and join her on and