Every artist has a unique path, a singular focus. Regardless of your definition of success, you can learn a lot from artists-artists who might have a different path than you, but who, nonetheless, found their way.
From successful artists, you can get ideas for marketing, promotion, themes, media, and technique. You can find out how you might use assistants in the studio or office. And you can be inspired by stories of overcoming obstacles. In fact, learning from others' mistakes might be the best way to learn. I'm currently reading the book "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive." In it, the authors show that people learn more when they examine mistakes rather than just hear about the best way to do something. I think you also learn when you hear from other artists who have tackled a problem in an unconventional way or just found a way to make a living that is different from what you had always assumed.
You can even learn a lot from artists whose art is nothing like your own. It's fine and good to belong to the watercolor or pastel society, the glass or fiber guild, or the oil painters group. But my experience is that these media-focused groups become insulated. Everyone is learning the same thing at the same pace. Do you want to stay at that level indefinitely? Or are you ready to break out on your own-to find the path that will distinguish you from the herd?
If you're ready to make a big shift, here are three tips.
1. Read biographies of artists you admire. Don't wait for the book to come out. Google their names! Read their resumes and bios on Web sites. How did they get to where they are? What's the story behind their success?
2. Get a mentor. Literally. Ask someone if they will be your official mentor. It doesn't even have to be an artist. It can be an independent professional whose self-promotion efforts you admire. In exchange for their counsel, you can offer to clean brushes, sweep the studio, take out the trash, work the sales table, or stuff envelopes.
3. Listen to stories. One request I get over and over again is that you (artists) want to hear from other artists who have achieved success at some level. Take a look around, and try reading articles and stories from other artists.
KNOW THIS----~> Each artist's path is unique.
THINK ABOUT THIS-~> Are you stretching yourself or are you in a rut?
DO THIS----~> Gain insight into art career success. Listen to artists who have achieved success on various levels. Maybe they have a booming wholesale business, love commission work, or have been featured in museum exhibits. Or perhaps they lead art tours, teach workshops, or are making a decent living. Whatever your definition of success, you can learn from those who have come before you.