10 Stu­pid Ways To Mea­sure Suc­cess As An Artist

Big Fish, Small Bowl - How To Measure Success

1) The num­ber of paint­ings we completed.

2) The dol­lar amount or num­ber of grants we received.

3) The num­ber of gal­leries that rep­re­sent or exhibit our work.

4) The num­ber of peo­ple who vis­ited our web­site or blog.

5) The num­ber of Twit­ter fol­low­ers we have.

6) The num­ber of Face­book “likes” or “friends” we have.

7) The dol­lar fig­ure in sales we made over the year.

8) The total num­ber of peo­ple that vis­ited our exhi­bi­tion or that showed up for an opening.

9) The num­ber of col­lec­tors we have added to our database.

10) The num­ber of speak­ing engage­ments and artist’s talks we give.

11) Our Klout score.

12) The bot­tom line profit.

13) The num­ber of stu­dents you teach.

I’d count every­thing above as  stu­pid things that many use to gauge suc­cess and mark move­ment in an upward trend, year over year. I have to admit, it was weird last night (New Year’s Eve) to see an email come out from Word­Press as to the stats for this blog, which started in Feb­ru­ary 2011. Even weirder was an email that came out not five min­utes after that from sev­eral artist friends who pub­lished their stats on a blog­post, count­ing them like badges of hon­our. Really? Weird.

Don’t get me wrong — I know my stats, and they’re quite impres­sive. I started think­ing about it, won­der­ing if those stats REALLY mat­tered to me in a suc­cess frame­work, and if I was the weird one.….The answer on the stats is HELL NO. And on the weird thing? … I’m quite com­fort­able in my weirdness.

Tak­ing stock at the end of a year, I hear­ken back to what mat­ters to me as a Full Time Human Being. Here are my met­rics for mea­sur­ing suc­cess. I mark myself on a scale of 1–10 for each item.

10 Mean­ing­ful Ways To Mea­sure Suc­cess for Artists


Janice Tanton's Red Coffee Cup

My lovin’ cup ‘o’ java.

1) Am I in good phys­i­cal health and did I take care of myself?

2) Am I in good men­tal health and did I take care of myself?

2) Are those I love dearly in good health, and did I do every­thing I could to take care of them?

3) Do we have enough money to pay for the things that we need, but not nec­es­sar­ily want?

4) Did I pass along what I know to oth­ers, freely and fairly?

5) Did I learn some­thing new?

6) Did I take suf­fi­cient time to cre­ate works that are mean­ing­ful to me?

7) Did I take a step out­side of my com­fort zone each day and risk failure?

8) Did I speak up and defend my val­ues with­out fear?

9) Did I lift someone’s heart by the work that I did, and make a mean­ing­ful change in their life?

10) Did I love myself enough to do the best in all the above?


(I sup­pose I’d really feel suc­cess­ful if I could fig­ure out how to get rid of those smi­ley faces on the #8’s for Word­Press, and how to make this font smaller in Page­lines. I’ll get back to you on that.)


The Bean Counter

After one bean…there’s just another bean…

YOU are the only one who can answer what suc­cess means for you. I’d chal­lenge you to think about that and design your own yearly suc­cess measurement…and then cel­e­brate the heck out of it!

For 2011, I’ll share this met­ric with you. I gave myself a 78/100 with some seri­ous room for improve­ment in sev­eral of the categories.

And if you want to know what the met­rics would be for the first list? Honestly.…I care so lit­tle about them, that I’d have to go and look them all up.…and I’d much rather be with my fam­ily or in my studio.

Cheers and the best of what you want in your suc­cess for 2012.


Here are some excel­lent resources and posts on the topic of artist success:

5 Com­mon Traits of Suc­cess­ful Artists — Lori McNee

12 Artist Res­o­lu­tions to Steal for 2012 — Alyson Stanfield


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  • Tracey

    Janice.…couldn’t agree more!! Here’s to you reach­ing 99% in 2012 (100% would be per­fect, and that’s too exhaust­ing!) I’m set­ting aside time later today to come up with my own list (though I like yours so much, I may sim­ply tweak it…)
    Happy, healthy won­der­ful wishes for 2012!

    • http://www.janicetanton.com Jan­ice Tanton

      I’d be super excited if I ever thought I’d be able to get to 99%, Tracey! And you are right…100% would be deity level. I’m not worthy. 😉


    Such a beau­ti­ful truth­ful list. Awesome.