Carolee S. Clark
Newsletter December 2014

Success in the Art World
"Back to Basics" painting by Carolee Clark
© Carolee Clark, "Back to Basics"
30" x 30", acrylic

A few weeks ago Kathleen wrote and asked for my thoughts on success in the
art world.  Since then I have been agonizing over this letter because to define success is so difficult.  I started to ask others to get some feedback.  When I asked my husband what he thought about success in the art world, his
response was “I’m all for it!”  I laughed and said “me too!”

We all define success so differently.  Is it financial security?  Critical
recognition? Personal enjoyment?  Product satisfaction?  Infusing meaning
into one’s work? Or something else?  Not only does everyone define success differently, but it is a moving target! What success means when one is at the beginning stages of an art career is so different from one who is well established.

What is my personal definition of success in the art world?
When I first started painting this would have been purely technical.  I wanted to create a beautiful painting very well crafted, mastering the medium of my choice (at that time it was watercolor).  I had no thought of selling or of becoming well known for my work.

Since I am now a full time artist, my idea of success has become much more complex.  Every year I write down my goals.  I just reread them and they do correlate with my idea of success. 
  1. Continue to Improve My Work

    I want to hold my work in appreciation, to love the outcome and be proud of what I create.  I want to continue to increase my mastery of painting.  I want my paintings to relay feelings of joy to the viewer.
  2. Enjoy the Process

    I want to love being in my studio or on site, experimenting, pushing myself to new levels, being excited by what I am trying to say with paint.  I’ve never been able to stay with a job if it isn’t challenging and fun.  Painting will never cease to be either.
  3. Sell My Work

    Yup. This is important to me.  I want to sell my work in a consistent manner and make enough money to live comfortably without stress.  I want my work to be in people’s homes, offices and public spaces.  I want it to be enjoyed.  I want it to be valued.
  4. Freedom

    Success is definitely doing what I want, how and when I want to.  As a small business (an artist) one has this kind of freedom.  It has always been important to me.
I'm not sure if one ever really feels like they have reached success as an artist.  I am always trying to become a better artist, looking at others' work and wanting to reach that level of mastery.  We all set our goals and when we reach those we set new ones.  It’s a great life trying to get there.

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