I think this is an interesting article: “A Life in Art” By John Camp
This is a particularly inspired idea.
Of the successful artists I’ve known, I’d say that the two things that led to their success were compulsion (virtually to the extent of mental illness) to do the work, and the eventual ability to monetize the effort. Most of them never get that success—they’re finally ground down and give it up….
Both suggest that while inborn talent is of some utility, the thing that really determines success in the arts (or any other field) is simply doing it. Gladwell even suggests a standard: ten thousand hours. He suggests that if you work very hard a particular art form—art in the widest sense, including sports, music, law, medicine and so on—that you will begin to reach a mastery of it after 10,000 hours of hard work. That’s 40 hours a week (no cheating!) for five years, or 20 hours a week for ten.
Check it out. Camp has some interesting ideas about what makes an artist and what it takes to excel at your chosen craft, writing or photography or editing or whatever. It boils down, as he notes above, to being a little crazy about it. Food for thought.
But most artists tend to be somewhat reclusive, because of the “compulsion” and “10,000 hours of work” aspects of their lives. They’re not back-slappers, drink-buyers, hale-fellow types.
So selling can be one of the toughest hurdles for a real artist to clear, even those who put in their time, who are doing excellent work.
Hah! I am definitely a “back-slapper, drink-buyer, hale-fellow type”, often to the detriment of my creative pursuits. I guess I have that working for me…and against me.