August 31, 2013

To Be Successful You Must….

2005-5-9 RailRoad Tracks - Final 2-10-2007 750

There are so many times that have people said to me:  to be successful you must…

  • focus on one thing and be known for that
  • promote yourself
  • get in a big name gallery
  • publish a book
  • be active in social media
  • get reviewed
  • be number 1 in SEO
  • offer small limited editions and high prices
  • create unique work
  • etc, etc, etc.

Here’s the problem: how can anyone give relevant advice if they don’t know what my definition of success is?

And more importantly, how can I pursue success if I don’t know what success means to me?

I didn’t ask myself “what is success” until many decades into my career, and what I discovered was that I didn’t like the standard definitions.

I found them to be unfulfilling.

So…take a few minutes and define what you want from your art and what success means to you.


Here’s an interesting take on success: words by Bill Watterson and illustrated by Gavin Aung Than.


See more from Gaving here:

8 thoughts on “To Be Successful You Must….

  1. Hello Cole,

    I thank you very much for this blog post – I completely agree (with you and the cartoon)!
    Some people may think that money buys happiness, others that recognition does the job. Probably it is neither …. at least for me it is not.

    And by the way …. as always I appreciate your photograph!

    I wish you a nice weekend,


  2. Hello Cole,

    Another great blog post, thank you so much for it, in the mean time I take the opportunity to congratulate you with this gorgeous photo!

    You also give me some good thinking about the meaning of what my art means to me. This is the result : being able to give free space to my creativity, touching the viewers with it, pushing myself further and further to become more talented add it and add least it helps to go through the minor day’s who overcomes us..

    Success is quit another thing: will I ever be successful? Maybe the day that I will be totally satisfied with what I create..if it ever happen 🙂

    Have a wonderful Sunday Cole!


  3. To be successful, you must “See your enemies driven before you. And hear the Lamentations of their women.”

    At least that’s how Conan the Barbarian defined it.

    Success, morality, faith……these are useless when they are self-defined.
    And they are useless as goals too.

    Cole is a very successful phtographer and artist as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know if Cole considers himself a success or no in these fields.

    I consider my brother, Bob to be one of the most moral men I know. He’ll say that he is a sinner and is always seeking God’s forgiveness.

    Have heard of anyone whose faith has moved a mountain? But don’t we all know someone of great faith?

  4. Your premise that success is self-defined, is most certainly written in stone somewhere…. or should be, anyway.

    Saying that your successful, implies you’ve succeeded and there’s nothing more to be accomplished. Your done… time to pack up your gear and head home. A dreadful conclusion, if there ever was one

    For me, success is realizing that success can only be found by having an enjoyable journey… and not in having reached a destination.

  5. What an uplifting cartoon and post. Thank you Cole!
    Success almost seems irrelevant in the larger picture- is this a life well lived on a daily basis? With “success” may come it’s opposite- “failure”.
    Being successful seems so tenuous and subjective.
    Success pales in the face of creating for the pure joy and passion of expression in that moment.

  6. I can VERY easily relate. I was the stay-at-home-parent for our two children, both boys now ages 24 and 29. This at at time when dads as the stay-at-home-parent were quite a rarity – so many stories to tell that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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