Recently, I listened to two of my relatives discuss the success or failure of “creative types.” They concluded talent (no matter how well-honed) simply isn’t enough; it’s all luck whether you succeed and it would be the best plan for the creative types to have a career to fall back on.

While I can’t disagree that having a on-the-clock job to pay the bills is the most prudent measure to take if you are considering launching a creative career, it is most certainly not “all luck” whether you will succeed in your chosen creative field. Believing that it’s all luck does, however, give a convenient out. That way, you can say, “Ah, well I was unlucky, now I can give up on my dream with the assurance that I tried.”

From my observations, the adage “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” definitely applies, but fails to mention that giving that perspiration definite direction is key. Success in any given field is a lot like competing in a marathon. If you don’t stay on the path, all that running, no matter how fast, is just good exercise. Many creative people end up going down an easier path than they had intended, simply because they have no idea how to get on the path they initially wanted. From my experience, a University college education for creative programs is woefully lacking in directing the students towards viable careers. However, in defense of the schools, internships for such things tend to be rare.

In order to succeed in a creative field as an individual, you must really learn how to be a jack-of-all trades. To become an artist, Dali didn’t only paint. He, in his own peculiar way, embraced the business end of the job. He was constantly selling himself, pushing his artistic ideas and networking. He helped propel an artistic movement, and he-quite effectively- acted as his own agent. An uncomfortable reality for artists is that they must be (at least on some level) self-made.

In my opinion, there are three major obstacles to becoming a creative success

  1.  Thin skin: To be a successful artist, you must be able to take criticism and rejection. A lot of it. Try to find what’s helpful in the criticism, and keep working.
  2.  Not seeking your audience: One of the largest issues with people who feel that they cannot capitalize on their creative skills are simply not seeking out the right audience. It can be difficult to know where to start finding the right audience for your work. The easiest way is to seek out work similar to yours and find out who buys it and how it is marketed.
  3.  Giving up: The surest way to guarantee failure is to give up. It takes time and persistence to build yourself up on your own work on work and merits. Just keep arting!