9 Ways to Be More Happy with Yourself as an Artist

happy blonde painter with paint

Most people on this planet, if you ask them, will tell you that what they are looking for in life is: HAPPINESS!

You probably have a similar goal and sometimes life has this not so useful habit of putting things in front of us to make our journey to happiness a little bit tough.

This is why, in that article, I will share with you 9 tips that could help show you how to be happy with yourself as an artist. These are 9 tips that I’ve personally used and then I’ve teach other artists during my 1-on-1 coaching sessions to help them make a living from their art business.

1. Work hard on your art and focus

If there is one thing that we, humans (at least myself!), is to “work hard”… but I think that this is not true and that we actually WANT and LOVE to work hard.

Furthermore, I am certain that we are even happier when we work hard than when we are on vacation. The fact that we sometimes “don’t want” to work hard is because we are NOT working hard on the right things.

Have you ever worked on an artistic project of yours and realized (after 12 hours straight of hard work) that it was midnight already and that it was time for bed?

I know I did, many times, and every time it happened it was because I was obsessed (a positive obsession of course!) with what I was creating.

So, working hard is really not something that we dread as humans beings; this fact is actually stated the wrong way. 

We hate working hard on the WRONG things! Ha!

Now it’s closer to reality and to the truth right? But, what if, this statement was ALSO false? Or maybe it is once again formulated in the wrong way?

The right statement is actually: “We hate working hard on things that we do not like when we don’t know exactly what will be the outcome.”

That sounds more like it!

How can you become happy with yourself as an artist by working hard? Well, working hard usually has an outcome right? Our intention when we start working hard on something is usually to attain certain results and we put the energy necessary to reach this particular goal or outcome.

So, it does not matter which actions you are doing to succeed your artistic career. Even boring and repetitive stuff have to be done to reach success… but will these boring actions bring you happiness? The answer is: YES!

Of course, doing the boring stuff will be… boring! BUT, the outcome is what you are looking for right? So, to actually be happy with yourself as an artist while working hard on « boring stuff » is easy.

All you have to make sure is that you have enough certainty towards the actions you are accomplishing every day that these daily tasks will, after a long enough period of time, bring you success. This is the reason why I wrote my book called “Living From Your Art” (available on Amazon), to help artists discover WHICH DAILY ACTIONS will bring them the success they want.

I am telling you, working hard is more fun than going on vacations!

2. Make sure to hang out with the right people in your art practice

You could be doing all the hard work in the world and being the most productive artist the world has ever known, but if you hang out with the wrong people, all of your efforts would be pointless.

But what do I mean by the « wrong people » and why does these people cancel all your hard work?

Well, I think the best example I can give you would be to ask you if you remember in high school that there was always the « bad gang »?

You know, the people that your parents would tell you to NOT hang out with! Or maybe were YOU part of this bad group of people who were not showing a great example to others?

Anyway, the point is that, when you surround yourself with people who lack purpose and who are not doing things to improve their lives, you will eventually fall in that same trap.

Sometimes, people around you will try to give you « constructive criticism » by invalidating your creations as an artist. You have to be very attentive to this kind of behaviour because this can really stop you over time. By the way, a couple of years ago, I read a very controversial book that really helped to get over all the criticism and gain back my self-confidence. This book is called “Self-Analysis” and you can get in on Amazon for like 20 bucks.

Art critics are the worst disease on this planet because they usually are the precise reason that sole artists abandon their careers. Make sure to really understand that I am not trying to say that criticism is bad, because we can always get better at what we do. But I am talking about unwanted criticism that is just free and not helping.

So, as an artist, remember that the people in your environment have to be positive, helpful, genuine and caring. Being an artist is already difficult, so we do not want to also have to handle mean people all the time.

You have the right to choose your surroundings. Even if it’s a family member that is mean to you, you have the right to go your own way to make sure to not have this person stop you from creating art.

Compare your own goals with theirs

One very simple way to understand who should be in your surroundings would be to communicate your goals to them and vice-versa.

Understanding your own goals as a person and an artist is the first step needed to be able to do this. Then, when it’s clear for you where you want to go, you can simply communicate with the people you hang out with and see if there are any negative reactions.

I don’t want to sound extreme in any way. The main purpose of this exercise is to open the way to you and your creativity. The purpose is not to « eliminate » people who belongs in your life. 

Of course, people around you can have very different goals than yours, but they can still be a part of your journey. What we want to make sure is that there is nobody around you who keeps criticizing you and bringing you down regarding your artistic career.

The best life we can live as an artist is shared with people who helps us with some aspects of our business. The best example I can give you is how I am constantly helping my own fiancée, Caroline, who is an actress/puppeteer/circus artist with her marketing and social media.

We make an amazing team as a couple (we have an amazing little 8 months girl!) and also as business partners (we also are partners for the « Puppet Podcast »).

This is why I recommend that you compare your own goals with the ones from the people of your surroundings.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live and ideal life filled with collaboration and encouragement? 🙂

3. Create a routine that makes you feel like you’re making progress on your to do list

At the end of the day, the best feeling we can have is the feeling of having actually advanced closer to our dream career as an artist. If you create art, your mental health will be protected and you will be a happy artist.

But, too many artists are actually having a hard in creating a successful business from their creative work because of a lack of focus. This is why creating a routine for your day will remove any self doubt and help you accomplish more stuff.

I am not talking about being like a robot, but I am talking about looking at the big picture and seeing and noting which activities needs to be done for any particular day.

DON’T start a day without having a plan. Make your business side come out and start making art AFTER having scheduled your day. As an artist, your happiness quotient will be very high if you implement daily schedules at the beginning of any day.

Your confidence in your ability of creating your artwork and getting the right inspiration will increase in proportion of the time you will have spent on writing your daily tasks for the day.

Happy artists are the ones who get out of their comfort zone and drive in more business by actually having stricter schedules.

Make sure to be accountable to someone else

You know, when you are the only one supervising your own work and that nobody else is there to look after you to make sure that you actually DO the work; it’s just you with YOU.

So how do you create good art all the while making money with your creative stories?

Do you hire someone else to give you comments on what you should do during the days? Or maybe you can write your process in a blog post and share it with friends so you are accountable to others?

Any way of making sure that you actually do the work you told yourself you would do is a great way of getting your creative work out there.

Starting an art business can be a very lonely endeavour, so make sure to find some other artists or friends or even a coach (like me!) to help you get through any kind of challenge that you could get yourself into.

The moment you start telling yourself some mean comments in your head is exactly the moment when you need more inspiration and motivation from an external viewpoint. That is why this is just what I do!

I help artists get through these personal barriers that they build themselves by helping them keep the focus on the right next actions to take for their art business.

Happy artists are artists who are going in the right direction and who know that many people believe in them and their art. Being accountable to someone is crucial for any type of endeavour in life and in the artistic field, it is a 100 times more important because of all the criticizing people who can stop you.

4. Understand your long term goal as an artist

A long term goal is not to have many followers on social media or to have a video go viral, right?

A long term goal as an artist should focus on how do you want to impact people’s life on this planet and how can you take them in a deeper place.

There is a great article by Grant Cardone (actually it’s a podcast episode!) in which he gives some very good reasons why artists are starving. I could say that NOT having a long term goal is definitely a reason why some artists are starving.

If you start an art business, your hobby becomes “more serious”; I don’t like to use that term because life cannot be too serious if you want to succeed. But, what I mean is that, you cannot take your hobby as a hobby anymore when you decide to make a living from your art.

When you take this decision, you have to understand:

  1. WHY your life should become focused on your art?

  2. HOW your creative ideas will keep inspiring the world on the long run?

  3. WHAT difference will it make for your potential client to buy your (painting, stories, show, songs, etc)?

  4. HOW much joy is your art is giving to people?

  5. …and so on!

Having enough confidence to be the person to say “I am going to make a living from my creative practice!” is very unique in this world. You are part of a very small minority and this is why you are such an inspiration for me, the moment that you take this decision.

By the way, this process does not have to be hard… it can actually be quite fun and bring you lots of joy! You simply have to make sure as an artist that you are surrounded by people who will not downgrade your idea of becoming a full time artist.

Being happy artists require that your art will be inspiring for the people around you and that your creativity will be allowed to flow naturally to a point where you will reach success!

Remember that choosing the right people to follow you on your path to success as an artist is not just about them telling you kind words. It’s also about having similar goals and working in collaboration with towards your long term vision that you have for your art business.

You don’t have a clue where to start? Get my book “Living From Your Art”; it’s a great place to get started on your path to long term success!

Eliminate distractions in your studio

If you want to make sure that you will do the work required to be successful, some things have to go…

To create art and make money as an artist in this world is a longer process than it used to be. But, you can disagree with that reality and you can outwork everyone in your niche if you decide to! That’s what is awesome about life: YOU are the one in control of your actions.

But… if you want to create in your studio and there is too many distractions, then you will come to a point where you are diverging your creativity in the wrong direction (social media, Netflix, sleeping, eating, etc.)

To have confidence that you will do whatever it takes to practice your art often enough, without spending your time looking at your social media stories or think about your next post, it takes an environment free of any distractions.

Remember, deciding to become an artist who starts making a living from his art, can be a very lonely path. So, it can be very tempting to spend much of your time on social media to interact with other artists. It is okay to network, but there is a time and a place to do this and it is definitely NOT during your creative process is taking place.

Start eliminating distractions in your office/studio and reap the benefits TODAY!

5. Stop doing things that you know are bad for you and your creative journey

When we become an artist, our intention is to create art that we like and that we feel others could appreciate too. We can transpose this concept by using our own life as an example.

We usually want to have a good life in which we help ourselves by taking good care of our body and mind, but sometimes, bad influences can come into our lives and make us consume bad stuff for us.

But, at the beginning, all we wanted was to take good care of our body and mind and not do stuff that can be bad for us, right?

Well, the same thing can happen with your art. If you start doing stuff that is bad for you; taking drugs, going out with too many people at the same time, eating too much fast food, etc., then, eventually you’ll end up creating bad art.

Your emotional situation has a lot to do with the kind of art that you create, so, to make sure that you are a happy artist and that your ideas are not being blocked, stop doing things that are bad for you.

I am not going to go in details and tell you what is good or what is bad for you, but you get the idea right?

We are always aware of the things that we do that are bad for us when we do them. You do not need a guy from a blog to tell us that it’s bad… because you KNOW that it’s bad and you do it anyway.

Well, I can totally relate to you, because I’ve been there in the past.

If you need help to stop doing things that are bad for you, well seek out, because, the best way to create your art and really make a living from it is to be fully aware and proud of yourself!

A great book that I recommend to get rid of mental barriers that could help you understand why you sometimes do things that are bad for you, is the book called “Dianetics”. I’ve read this very controversial book, years ago, and it literally saved my life!

Once again… make sure to be surrounded by the right people in your creative life

We can all relate to that. Because, usually, we absolutely KNOW when we started hanging out with the wrong people or bad influences.

By the way, a bad influences does not necessarily have to be someone who does unethical or illegal stuff… it can actually be a lot more insidious than this. A bad influence can be a boyfriend or girlfriend that is actually NOT going towards his or her dreams as a person. It can be someone that keeps on watching Netflix instead of pushing to actually reach his or her full potential.

When we hang around people who are not giving the good example, we should actually send them this video. It will help them understand how they could change their behaviours for the better.

Anyway, I know I spoke already about this subject how hanging out with the right people, but I really wanted to make that concept clear because it is VERY important for your success as an artist. It can make or break your success!

6. Stay true to your own values as an artist

Sometimes, when we create art, we can find other artists to be very inspiring because of their creativity. It can be tempting to try to copy them or at least mimic their style! It’s alright to get inspired by others, BUT, remember that the main thing that will attract your ideal clients is YOUR style with YOUR own creative ideas!

So, make sure to stay true to your own personality to be able to be a happy artist. “Trying” to please to everyone by taking a different style than yours will automatically lead to a dead-end on the long run.

Even if some friends tell you that you should change your style or that they think that what you do is not popular right now, it does not matter. What matters is how YOU feel about your creations!

7. Don’t let anybody’s invalidation affect your joy or creating

I spoke very often about this concept but maybe we can talk a little bit more about it. Letting other people’s “positive” criticism affect you will definitely lead you to stop creating your art.

I know that it can be very helpful to listen to some notes from people who seem to want to help you, but at the same time it can put you into confusion. Let me explain why…

If one person comes and tells you that you should’ve used more blue in your painting, then another one comes and tells you that there is not enough red, then another one comes and tells you that there’s too much red and blue… what will happen then? CONFUSION!

Of course, sometimes you will have special requests from clients and that is very normal and you should actually agree with your client who pays you for it. But what I talk about is when too many people (who are not even artists themselves, or not even trying to be artists) come and criticize your art. What’s the point?

One thing that you have to understand is that at least most people absolutely LOVE to give their opinions on everything and anything. That does not mean that their opinions are right; their opinions are right in their own minds, but that does not mean that they are right for everyone else around them.

You know, I had a saying from one of my mentors called Grant Cardone that I really liked and he says that people who criticize you actually stopped a long time ago to move towards their own dreams. These people actually disagree that people around go forward towards their goals, thus it says more about themselves then it says about you as an artist. So why listen to them, right?

8. Keep a long term vision for your career

By keeping a long term vision for your career as an artist, you will stay motivated longer and continue to push forward even when you have barriers coming your way. Failures will simply become milestones and sadness will not hit you as hard as if you would only have a a very narrow and short term vision for success.

Happiness as an artist is about succeeding throughout time and overcoming problems and gaining more confidence in yourself along the way. It’s not about short term wins, because what happens after a short term win…? Well, you have to continue working forward.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree that we should celebrate when we accomplish things as an artist, on the short term AND on the long term. But, don’t get too much stuck on a “win” because there is always more people to help with your art in the future and I don’t want you to decelerate.

The artists who never loses sight of the peak of the mountain will win. The one who only sees the bottom of the mountain will get lost. Make sure to never lose sight of your “why”, your purpose. It has to be big enough so that nobody will ever be able to stop you, whatever they tell you or do to you.

9. Outwork every other artists in your niche

Nobody can win over someone who works more than them. If another artist who is more talented than you works 40 hours per week and you work 70 hours per week, that’s 1560 more hours of work done from you per year.

Of course, talent comes over time and practice, but if you practice 1560 more hours than your “competitors”, you will win. The only way to make sure that you stay a happy artist is to KNOW what is the amount of work and efforts necessary to get to your goals. That’s it!

When you know what it takes, you can decide to do it or not. But, at least, you are not in the dark regarding what you should do to make a living from your art!

It really comes back to you to make the decision to work more, because you are the only one who creates your purpose daily. Of course, you can write your purpose on a piece of cardboard and put it on a wall in your studio, but the only reason to do that is to be reminded EVERY single day why you are doing this.

So, the only reason that you will decide to outwork any other artist in your field is because of your purpose and how much you want it.

(Cheezy alert!) Nobody can create your happiness other than yourself

So here it is! 9 Ways to Be Happy with Yourself as an Artist! Of course there are many many more ways of being able to reach happiness as an artist (and a human being!), but I thought that these 9 tips were a pretty good start for you to reach happiness!

If ever you would like to have another article like this, please let me know by email as I write these articles for YOU amazing artists and my goal is to help you get into action towards your dreams! Here’s my email: elie@livingfromyourart.com.

Until then, please stay creative and keep on inspiring everyone around you with your art. Never forget that you are REALLY needed and that you are part of the 1% who creates as a living and that people need MORE art in their lives!

man smiling

-Élie Castonguay
Art Business Coach
🖥️ Book a free ZOOM call with me: https://eliecastonguay.com/contact/

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Elie Castonguay
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