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101 Great Reasons to Be an Artist

Image courtesy of kelsey_lovefusionphoto

What is the greatest reward you get from being an artist?

Over 900 people answered this question recently in the Enterprising Artist Survey, and I wanted to share some of the answers with you, so you can see what motivates artists to do the work they do.

What struck me about the results was the wide variety of different things that motivate people to be artists, from internal rewards such as happiness and peace, to external rewards such as peer recognition or money.

A lot of rewards came up again and again, the most common being variations on doing what you love, being your own boss, and making other people happy.

Personally, the greatest reward I get from being an artist is completing a painting, and knowing that I have learned something from the process, and that my next painting will be even better.

Here are 101 other rewards that people get from being artists:

  1. Having the freedom to do what you love every day
  2. Being able to inspire and delight people through your work
  3. Being able to exercise your creativity
  4. The joy of creating and sharing art
  5. Enjoying the reaction when someone sees your painting of them
  6. Selling something you have created
  7. Opportunity to express yourself creatively
  8. Having something that is all yours
  9. Getting to be yourself
  10. Seeing a painting touch someone’s heart and soul
  11. The joy of seeing when someone “gets” your painting
  12. Doing work you believe in
  13. Being your own boss
  14. Not having to work 9-5 for someone else
  15. Meeting great people
  16. Working with beauty on a daily basis
  17. Being able to express your world on canvas
  18. A sense of accomplishment from creating something
  19. Having your work recognised by other artists
  20. Knowing someone loves your work enough to buy it
  21. Being able to say whatever the fuck you wish to say, without any filters!
  22. Having people tell you “this is what you were born to do”
  23. Being able to move someone on a deep level
  24. Having your work appear in national shows
  25. Receiving awards for your work
  26. The creative challenge behind creating a satisfying artwork
  27. Knowing your work is in people’s homes, where they can love it every day!
  28. Feeding your need to create
  29. Being able to work when it suits you
  30. Being filled with ideas that you can bring to life visually
  31. Being able to support yourself through your art
  32. The connection of having a piece you love, and knowing someone else loves it too
  33. Experiencing flow
  34. Finishing a painting
  35. Travelling to interesting parts of the world for exhibitions
  36. Sharing a part of yourself and your world view with others, and encouraging others to do the same
  37. Having people write to you to tell you how much they love your work
  38. Knowing you’re putting a little bit of your soul on each canvas
  39. The moments during the creative process when all the fear and troubles simply fall away
  40. Taking part in the making of history
  41. Having a unique perspective on all your experiences
  42. Knowing that you have a gift that contributes to making the world a better place
  43. The endless opportunity to learn
  44. Being connected to the ongoing dialogue of art that has been evolving since the beginning of humanity
  45. Having nobody telling you what to do or how to do it
  46. Being able to express yourself in ways nobody else can
  47. Knowing that you are doing what you should be doing
  48. Seeing your artwork hanging in someone else’s home
  49. Being able to pick and choose the projects that excite me (180)
  50. Leaving this world with something made by your hands
  51. Money!
  52. Completing a beautiful image that you still enjoy looking at years later
  53. The ability to make your own schedule
  54. Knowing you would still do this even if you were a billionaire
  55. Feeling like you’re doing the right thing
  56. Peace and relaxation
  57. Being able to provide for your family by doing something you love
  58. Having a waiting list of high paying clients wanting your stuff
  59. Being taken to a world where everything is beautiful, safe and sincere
  60. Being creative in business as well as product
  61. Living the life you want for yourself
  62. The joy of teaching others to paint
  63. Those rare moments when it all goes just right, and the work works
  64. Never being bored
  65. Pure joy!
  66. The discoveries of seeing the unity of the visual world and the unlimited possibilities exposed by these discoveries
  67. Making people smile
  68. Working in the studio without regard to selling or the opinions of others
  69. Donating to worthy causes through the sale of artwork
  70. Having your art published
  71. Connecting with others over shared experiences
  72. Experiencing students discover the artist that they can be
  73. The absolute satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful that first only existed in your mind
  74. Living in a world of possibilities and ideas
  75. Feeling empowered as a human being
  76. Seeing the message from PayPal that tells you you have a sale
  77. Knowing your creation has contributed to the happiness of a stranger
  78. Having a special private outlet
  79. Knowing that your life and skill set reflect your personal goals and aspirations
  80. Making something out of nothing
  81. Being able to play all day
  82. Making people think a little differently
  83. Living life on your own terms
  84. Watching the light bulb come on in the eyes of your students
  85. Interacting with other creative people
  86. Breaking the rules and finding a new path
  87. Creating a piece that shows you have grown as an artist
  88. Having another artist buy your artwork
  89. Fulfilling the need to connect to nature by being able to paint it
  90. Knowing that when everything else in your life is awful, you can still draw
  91. Seeing something unexpected and beautiful come to life
  92. Finding your personal style
  93. Seeing the glaze in the eyes of your audience when they realize that they are creative and can become more creative at work and for fun
  94. Creating something so intensely personal that it is basically an extension of yourself
  95. Sitting down at your easel and feeling like a kid
  96. Learning to see the generosity that nature lays at your feet
  97. Making something that will be here long after you’re gone
  98. Feeling like the whole world makes sense when you create
  99. The feel of the pencil or brush on paper
  100. Seeing the world more intensely, noticing things other people don’t, and sometimes being able to actually bring that vision to the canvas or paper
  101. The reward of art itself

Your turn! What would you say is the greatest reward you get from being an artist? Please let us know in the comments below, or share your favourite reward from the list above.

13 Comments on 101 Great Reasons to Be an Artist

  1. JJ Jacobs says:

    Thank you for publishing this list, Dan — I’m printing it out and putting it in my home studio so I can look at it every single day 🙂

  2. chris says:

    Sounds Alot of stroking oneself and me,me,me statements… Even if a person likes your work,its not about their joy, but the joy it brings the artist….just what I read as I skimmed a very repetitive list.

  3. Nan Drye says:

    I have made things all my life and have ideas for many more. As far as staking a claim as an artist I think it then puts me in the position of being able to share all the joys mentioned above with others, and then, to some extent anyway, it does become about how they experience what I make.

  4. My peers. I love artists and spending time with artists and talking about the work and art in general with them. Dedicated artists are the most invigorating and exciting group of people.

  5. Mary says:

    I have always done things with my hands and have a talent for it. It is a hand/eye coordination thing. Is it self motivated? Yes, I guess it is, but not in a selfish me, me, me way. It is more like a way of connecting with the visual part of life. And I have explored every imaginable form there is. It is a pursuit, and it is a mediation. I have made a living from what I can do, but not just from one aspect of it, and it is not why I do it. Art and Creativity are not self stroking to the degree that I need others to see what I have done, but I do engage in the activities because they give me a sense of completeness.

    What a thought provoking question.

  6. Jon Laughlin says:

    First of all I create art to please myself, to surround myself with things I love, to make myself what nobody else can provide. If other people enjoy it that’s nice too. It’s fun to share my creations with others and sell it if they really love it themselves.

  7. Baird Godvin says:

    Why do I do and promote art?

    To DISCOVER something greater than myself. To GET IN TOUCH with higher thought and the lessons of the universe. To WORK in a positively subversive way that opens doors rather than closes them. To AFFIRM that we can live beyond the small ideas of television, media and our current story tellers. To HONOR and feel part of the natural world and its beautiful rhythm.

  8. Emma says:

    I can relate to a lot of the above reasons when it comes to creating something beautiful from textiles and fabric. I am not a full time (or even part time) artist but when I do craft, I gain a sense of enjoyment and ‘flow’ from what I am doing, lose myself in the moment of creating something and trying to work it out, and a sense of satisfaction. There is a lot of evidence that creativity is good for mental health, and I think the above list really reflects that.

  9. Pingback: 101 Razones Para Ser Un Artista - The Artists Tools (Héctor Muñoz)

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