Top 5 Traits of Successful Artists

How many of these traits describe you?





1. They know their audience

Artists who are confident in understanding their target market can tailor their efforts in developing their line into collections that appeal to those customers, whether they are selling at retail or wholesale. This encourages customers to become collectors. Artists who know their audience also brand their line, website, marketing materials and communications accordingly.


2. They understand how to price their work  

This can be a huge sticking point for many artists and craftspeople. If you can’t pay yourself adequately, or price for profit and growth, you may end up out of business. Get an understanding of your costs, and use a formula for pricing that includes profit at wholesale. Mark your work up to retail prices without undercutting your wholesale accounts.



3. They manage their time and priorities

Having a regular, consistent studio practice is crucial. Successful artists create systems within their business, scheduling time to produce work, time to manage their business and personal time as well. Finding this balance, and persistently acting to keep all of your priorities in line is key to success.


4. They are skilled at building relationships 

Repeat sales are incredibly important to any successful artist. It is more than five times as hard to gain a new customer as it is to sell more of your work to an existing customer. This works on both wholesale and retail levels. Building relationships may be through in-person meetings, at openings, trade shows, retail shows, or online. Communicate with clients and important contacts through emails, invitations, newsletters, and social media. This helps you stay in touch with those customers to encourage repeat sales. Fans and collectors also act as catalysts to drive referral business.


pottery display


5. They create fresh work

Successful artists don’t rest on their laurels. They produce new work to present and sell to existing and new customers. Gallery owners and retailers always want to know “What’s new?” so they can stock fresh items that appeal to their own clientele. Artists who sell at wholesale normally create about 30% new work each year to keep up with this need.


What else do you consider important to success as an artist? Please share.



Want to learn how to market your art or craft effectively? Check out our popular e-course “Marketing for Artists & Craftspeople” available exclusively through The Arts Business Institute.

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  1. More Traits Part 2
    They get subscribers to support them for 6 months, they sell art futures,
    they design special art projects that get them paid, they see the art in everything to survive, they write things down, they keep good mailing lists, they carry business cards all the time, they heat and eat from their art effort.
    Mo” Later

    • Bob, I came across a quote of yours today and found it refreshing. Artists do need to pay their bills or pretty soon their art supplies will be at the back of the closet drying up. I like to eat and I like to paint. I don’t think these should be mutually exclusive. Thanks for all the no-nonsense advice.

  2. Art Career Trick- I got a story in the Denver Post, I had a bogo sale in my home -studio, I sold two works for three hundred dollars. My mission was to retire my mortgage. I did so in three days, as a result of the news paper story. I did NOT send the story to the art critic, I sent it to a city side reporter. I wanted to reach NEW people with the art project.
    Any artist that wants to pay down a bill can do this.

  3. They also re-invest every penny into making the business and art better than it was before. Many successful artists have USP’s (Unique Selling Points) that distinguish themselves from others in their genres. I call it the ‘hook’. The one thing you become memorable for (you can have many!).

    You can create a great brand and great work but that will become forgettable over time unless you have the ability to stand out – something people will talk about, remember and engage with for a long time. This is the glue that holds your excellently observed traits together (in my own opinion).

    Great post; thanks for sharing.

    Oh and one other trait? They work 18 hours a day – every day!

  4. Some more traits- they send real mail, they illustrate the mail, they know how to open and close on sales. They stay in touch,
    they save cash, they read for ideas to not starve, they send for my tip sheets, they get their own hard copy press, they copy the story at instant printers and writ letters on the back of the copy, they don’t wait to be rescued, they talk to successful money making artists, they steal methods, they learn to love business.
    More Later.


  1. […] Arts Business Institute | Top 5 Traits of Successful Artists From – Today, 1:28 PM Common characteristics of artists who are successful – what they know about their business, how to market and sell. […]

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