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Am I a successful artist?

Am I a successful artist? The answer is yes and no. Yes, I’ve made it to 3 years doing art full time, and being able to do what I love is a success in its own right…but also no. I’m not at that level where I am financially free just yet.

Before I continue, I’m Ettiene but just call me Ezra. I’m a contemporary artist specializing in the mediums watercolor and acrylic. And my main focus are character designing. I’m from South Africa where we have lions as pets and use candlelight because we have no electricity. I’m joking…well both of those are sorta true.

Why am I sharing publicly my level of success? It’s quite simple. I want you to understand that everyone has their own levels of success, and you shouldn’t be comparing your success level with theirs.

The question is, am I a successful artist? And my answer is yes and no. I started in 2021, where I went fulltime and left my stable web design & development career.

I thought, because I worked in the marketing space, and have had continuous conversations with different business owners, that I would be able to use that to my advantage and make a 100 000 easily within the first year. Oh boy, was I wrong. Needless to say, my attempt of creating anime merch was a total disaster. I had to end up lending money from my parents to get through a few months.

I was completely lost, – 0 in my account… and feeling like I have made the worst decision in my life.

Now, mind you.. I decided to focus on character designing which at that point I’ve only been practicing for a year…and didn’t focus on my paintings which I’ve had 4 years of practice back at that time.

Needless to say, thinking back, it was ridiculous that I thought I could make 100 000 for the first year with my mediocre skills in designing and rendering characters.

Forward to the beginning of 2022 I had a chat with my friend that happened to be a business coach and she suggested I join up with my local network chapter called BNI (Business Networking International). There I learned immediately that focusing on original character instead of fanart, would be a much better direction. It’s also a platform that taught me so much about business and how to get from point A to point B.

Forward to 2024, and many things has happened. I started slowly making more money from the characters and artwork I created. I had my first booth display at comic con.  And I’m blessed to have gotten this far as a fulltime artist.

But its not all sugar and honey. I had to pivot my business and start offering graphic design services to fill the holes where my art can’t fill the spaces, financially speaking. I also freelance websites from time to time, just to make that extra bit of money.

The reality is, that I might have my social platforms where I post all the artworks, and promote my book, and promote my art. And I might seem successful as an artist, but there are many other things I sometimes have to do in the background that isn’t art related to make ends meet. When I see artists selling their artwork for 500 000, I feel that sore stab in the heart, but I also realize that their journey and mine starts at different points.

With that being said, despite the things I’m not successful on, the things I failed to make a success. I know I worked my ass of, and did everything I could to get me at this point where I’m better of than 3 years ago…but I still have a long way to go. And I know I’m at a better point as a skilful character designer and contemporary artist, much better at running a business and understanding how to be a better businessman. and the things I have hoped to happen 3 years ago…might happen this time around.

The important thing that I’ve learned, is to stand up after that beating and keep on walking. Be patient, and you will eventually find yourself walking in the corridor to success.

So yes, I am successful and I’m not. I hope by sharing my story, that it has resonated with you a bit and helps you realise just to keep on pushing through. You aren’t alone in the struggle.

And to my clients or future clients, I hope this makes you realise that I truly do take on a project with upmost care and truly do try and create the best design or artwork for you.

Also, for those character designers that is just starting to learn or those that wants to improve some more… check out my e-book “How to draw a character in just 8 weeks”. I’m trying to build up funds to get the book published so I can get physical prints going. So by supporting me to buy these e-books helps me to get this going full stream.

Ezra signing out…see you in the next blog.

Don’t forget to sign up and support me on Patreon too. Thanks to my Patreon member Nikita for the continuous support. Become a member for free

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