Action: To Know and Not to Do Is Not to Know

It’s possible you can work hard all your life and make a great success. It’s also possible you can work hard all your life and just barely make it.

What makes the difference? While not the only thing, massive action on the right thing is always present in the equation.

Just so we are clear, we are talking about art careers now. Most would argue you need some creative talent to attain success as an artist. I agree. You can’t teach someone who is tone deaf or who lacks rhythm to become a top musician.

Talent might also be described as skills. Artists need these and other skills to foster success in making their art:

  • imagination
  • technical aptitude
  • visual interpretation and communication capacity
  • research skills

That’s a short list. Without question, it is only a start.

You know, and I know there are far too many artists who have an abundance of art making talent and yet whose careers never took flight. Making a career success where one’s art is found, accepted, desired and purchased on a regular basis takes more than making great art. And, that is a harsh reality for some artists.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy



It’s easy to understand why. You have this gift of making art. You are willing to put in the hours to make exquisite work. It seems it ought to be enough then for the art to sell itself. But, dangit, that is not the case. For whatever slight consolation, it’s not the case for the other arts, or any business, for that matter.

The simple matter is you have to let your light shine. If the world cannot see it, it cannot know about it. Light does come through the cracks, but it can only be fully seen and appreciated when it is unobstructed.

Learn It and Go Out and Earn It

If you want superior success, the kind you dream of, the kind you see your art heroes enjoying, you have to earn it. That means besides making great, desirable art, you must also learn the skills to create a profitable business model and then take massive action. The greatest successes come when talent and action are tied to self-belief. Together, they create an unbeatable synergy.

For purposes of this post, let’s put talent aside. I’m not saying it’s not important. It is. I always come from the perspective that you already have the skill sets to make amazing art.

Things in the art business, nearly every business, are undergoing extensive changes. What’s new, hot, and working today comes with no guarantee it will continue to stay that way in the future. I like to think the items on this list are evergreen.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy



Do these things and succeed:

  1. Learn. Get smart and stay smart
  2. Take daily focused action
  3. Make your best work – never be satisfied
  4. Don’t lament your failures, use them as stepping stones to achievement
  5. Access your abundance mentality; it’s a choice you make daily
  6. Drum out negative thoughts and people
  7. Practice your craft
  8. Practice your marketing
  9. Make daily affirmations about your life and your art
  10. Realize your art and you are part of a much bigger picture
  11. Acknowledge you are adding value to the visual conversation
  12. Comprehend the biggest big shot you know still puts his pants on one leg at a time
  13. Find the story of your art
  14. Tell the story of your art
  15. Believe the story of your art
  16. Work on your self-confidence, it’s a learned skill for many
  17. Appreciate that self-confidence is a very attractive quality
  18. Find others who believe in you and your art
  19. Make it a point to hang out with positive enablers
  20. Have high, meaningful, career-oriented goals
  21. Prioritize your goals
  22. Limit your large goals to a manageable number (two or three)
  23. Break your large goals into smaller goals
  24. Turn your smaller goals into tasks
  25. Create daily actions from your task list
  26. Get a to-do list or calendar and add your tasks to it
  27. Commit to daily completion of the goals and tasks on your calendar

Success Leaves Clues… and So Do Failures

I could go on and on with the list above. I’m confident if you take just some of  the suggestions above to heart and act on them that you will find ways to make your career shine brighter. But, that is still not enough if you want to have the very best possible success. There is more to do.

You don’t have to figure out how to reinvent the wheel to make your career more successful. You need to find mentors. They don’t have to know they are your mentor. Find the most successful artists and other creatives that you know and admire. Then reverse engineer what they have done to become successful.

If you have the opportunity, ask your mentors about their failures. Learning what those are and how they overcame them is often more instructive than learning what they did to become successful.

No one operates in a vacuum. Most of what we do is in the public eye. This is doubly true for businesses operating at peak success. Become inquisitive. Be curious. Dig hard. The information is there if you keep looking. The more you look, the better you get at understanding the real, insider details.

Leadership vs. Management

As a leader in your business, you need to set a vision for where you want the business to go. This is critical. You want to grow, right? Then you need to create the largest possible, remotely plausible vision for success you can. That is what leaders do.

As a manager in your business, you need to implement the vision of your leadership. As your business grows, you will find much of the management gets handed off to managers. You will remain as the creative force in making the art and provide the vision for how the business will grow. Your managers will follow your lead.

If you have not thought about hiring people, you are probably stuck in your scarcity mentality. Free your brain. Start realizing what is possible when you free your mind and start reaching for your greatest possibilities to become your highest self in every aspect of your life.

Get out there and make it happen.


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  • Great post for anyone, not just artists. I’ve read it twice and bookmarked it. The thing is, most of this is stuff we all probably know deep down inside, we just forget or ignore it on a daily basis (then we complain about being miserable). This is a good reminder. Thanks.

  • Thanks a lot . Ur article is truly a brain- shaker. We artists really love to make art and ignore the marketing part until it hits back at us . Thanks for the wonderful help ?.

  • Greg N. Smith says:

    Thank you Barney. It is good to be reminded of the principles that bring about success. I know I need to it due to all the other distractions of life that take me away from that goal of being a successful artist.

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