2. Follow journeys of ‘Goal Artists’
We all have artists that we hope to emulate one day either by style, success, or both, and that’s a very healthy thing. It’s great to have idols! Especially in the crazy world of professional art where there really are no set rules or protocols for building a prosperous and fulfilling career it can be incredibly helpful to have people to pattern after.
My advice is to pick 2-3 of your favorite contemporary artists whose style and/or target audience matches your own and who have also achieved a high level of your ideal of success. Remember that success looks different to every artist so it is important that you get kind of specific with this ideal; it won’t do you any good to emulate an artist being granted huge sculptural instillation art contracts when you are trying to paint pet portraits for celebrities. (You can love any artists’ work without trying to replicate their careers :) )
Then simply research and follow each artist consistently. Find their website and check out their CVV or Exhibition/Awards roster to see potential venues to apply to or contests to enter. Sign up for their email list to hear about where/what they’re showing next. See if they teach workshops or college classes, or even jury for certain exhibits. Find them on social media and stay abreast of upcoming projects. How do they market themselves and their artwork? How do they get their audience excited about new artworks? What are specific ways that they engage with their audience?
Since basically everyone is all over the internet these days it is easier than ever to see how your idols are advancing but please, no matter what, do not ever make the mistake of comparing yourself to them. It can sound cliche, but it is very true that no two artistic journeys are ever the same. Gathering inspiration or references from favorite artists is fantastic, but you have no idea how exactly they got their start, how their socio-economic background influenced their educational opportunities, or how they may be connected either through location, schooling, or lineage. Circumstances are always different when peering from the outside in, so use your goal artists as just that, inspirational goals… not rigid one-size-fits-all rules.