One of the most-used business metaphors is the ladder of success.
It’s assumed that you start at the bottom and work your way to the top in a nice, progressive fashion.
A few months ago, I woke up with the epiphany that this is not how it works.
Think about it: What happens when you get to the top? You’re done? It’s all over?
I have never heard of a single artist – visual, performing, or otherwise – who thinks they’ve reached the highest level they’re ever going to reach.
You want to keep going for as long as you breathe.
You want to learn more, improve, grow, and change.
The Circle of Success
Rather than the metaphor of steps or ladders, I’ve adopted the circle to explain how I think art businesses and careers expand.
I believe that at any one point in your art business, most of your energy is focused in one of the areas identified in this circle.
You bounce back and forth inside the circle as your focus changes, depending on your goals and obligations.
You might remain in one focus area for three months or three days. Then you return to it later because you don’t have one exhibition or one planning session and call it good.
You do many of the same things month after month and year after year to build your business.
The Circle Expands
With this consistency and repetition, you become more sophisticated. You learn what does and doesn’t work, you adapt, and you add new tools, tricks, and technology.
So rather than looking like this (stairs), your business growth looks like this.
There is plenty of room for more circles – more growth, more success – beyond what is visible.
Each artist finds his or her own trajectory. You will find your own way.