10 Stupid Ways & 10 Meaningful Ways To Measure Success As An Artist

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


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

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