1. Courage in contrast is a potent asset. Use it.
Embrace the differences that make your work stand out from others. This is the essence of what makes you you. No one else can bring to life the stories out there the way you can. The world needs your perspective because your experience is colorful, layered, and rich. To share your sorrows, joys, and everything in between pierces humanity to its core because we’ve all been there, in one way or another.
2. Be aware of the current market.
As it is important to recognize and utilize your differences, it’s also wise to observe and apply aspects of current trends. The trick is to apply the trends that interest you. If you’re simply copying for the sake of copying, your passion will dry out. Create work with a touch of personality, your personality. Even a fingerprint of influence in a client-directed work is valuable.
3. Self-discipline is as hard to forge as it is inseparably fortifying when mastered.
I’m still learning how to be consistent on this one. It’s not easy, but the times I am successful are when I see growth not only in myself as an artist, but as a human being. The struggle is real and it is daily, because every day we artists combat and must overcome Resistance. This battle is against a presence that will “…tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. …If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying…” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
4. Remember and learn from the Masters.
Currently, I really enjoy looking through N.C. Wyeth’s work. He and countless others before him pioneered fundamental principles of design that we now have the privilege to build upon and reinterpret. Reading their struggles and breakthroughs, however long ago they were, may prevent us from making the same mistakes, at least less often. They paved many roads that we can use as platforms for exploring new territories.
5. Creating art for a living is the hardest yet most fulfilling thing I have the privilege to experience.
“The passage from amateur to professional is often achieved via an interior odyssey whose trials are survived only at great cost, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We pass through a membrane when we turn pro. It’s messy and it’s scary. We tread in blood when we turn pro. What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out. “- Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro