Maria Brophy


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How to Become a Famous Artist and Leave a Legacy

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“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.”   Famous Artist, Salvador Dali

Many of the artists that I consult with ask me “How do I become well-known for my art?”  They don’t want to use the word “famous” but that’s what they are asking.

Some people yearn for fame, and I suppose it’s natural to want that, because if you’re famous, it means that people like what you’re doing.  Creative folks crave being liked; it gives their work meaning somehow.

Being famous also means that the money will follow.  And making money from your art means that you can create more and quit that other job that you don’t like.

Deep down inside, though, what most creative people really want is to leave a legacy with their art.   They want recognition for their artwork.   They want to know that what they are doing is meaningful in some way.

Becoming famous for your artwork can take a lifetime.  Think of all the artists that have left behind a legacy; it took them a lifetime to do it!

But you have the time, because time is going to pass anyway.  If you dream of being remembered for your creative work, read on:



I know an artist who painted five paintings, inspired from a trip to South America.  He exhibited those five paintings for years, traveling the U.S. and showing them and selling prints of them.  While the art itself was nice, it wasn’t enough to create an impact.

Picasso, Da Vinci, Warhol, and other artists who are well known have created large bodies of work, consistently.

Through the process, their talent deepened and their techniques improved.

Consistency and quantity = quality.


Develop your own, distinct style so that everyone would know that it’s yours, even if your name wasn’t on it.

When you see a Picasso painting, you know its Picasso’s.  When you see a Picasso knock-off, you know it was copied from a Picasso painting.

A distinct style becomes your own, and over time, people come to know it as yours.

(My husband Drew Brophy is the most imitated surf artist in history; but when people see one of his “copied” pieces, they know it’s a Brophy knock-off because his style is so distinct.)

If you have trouble creating a distinct style, then become known for a distinct niche (such as “the artist of horses,” etc.)

Or, your medium could be unique.  An artist named Tedos in Santa Barbara, California, creates surfboards using carved leather techniques that are so unique, he’s the only person in the world doing it.

When you have a distinct style, medium, technique, or niche, you eventually become known for it, and you become the go-to artist for people who looking for it.

(For instruction on how to find your niche, read:  BECOME WELL KNOWN AND RECOGNIZED; HOW TO FIND YOUR NICHE)


It’s up to you to tell people what you want them to remember about you, your story and uniqueness.  If you don’t tell people what you want them to know, they will make up their own stories about you.

Decide what your story is, then tell it!

Your story should be told consistently, online in your biography, about page, and across all social media and written/printed platforms.

Every person has a unique story.   It could be your life journey, overcoming a difficult past or an illness (or learning to live with one), your unique lifestyle, or what you do for fun.   Tell your audience what you want them to know!

Salvador Dali told his story.  He was a master manipulator of the media, painting himself as an eccentric.  Once, he delivered a lecture wearing a wetsuit, for no apparent reason!  It had people talking about him, and they said the things he wanted them to say.


Invest in having professional photos taken of you and your art, regularly.

For the short term, post the photos online, on your website and social media sites.

For the long term, professional photos are important for future documentation that will be used in art history books, coffee table books and historical exhibits.  (If you are planning to leave a legacy, this is something you need!)

Invest in photography sessions that capture you working in your craft.  Also, get a few good head-shots (that can be used for media, online, etc.).

When the media wants to feature you in a story, you’ll be ready with excellent photos.

We hire photographers four to five times a year to shoot Drew and me working, traveling, or in the studio.  The photos come in handy for many different uses.


Make it easy for people to share your work online.  Post quality photos of your work.

For copyright protection, and to claim the art as your own, include your copyright notice or signature on each photo (but don’t place your copyright notice in the center of the image; that’s annoying and people won’t share it).


This is the most impactful of all:  Be generous with your knowledge.  Don’t be afraid to share some of your secrets.  This is what makes you memorable, and it leaves a legacy.

Help other artists, allow them to use your art as inspiration, and applaud them when they do.  This will come back to you ten-fold.

You will become known as the artist who inspired many others after you.  There’s no greater way to create a legacy than to influence others with your art.

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.”  Salvador Dali 

Please, share in the comments; do you have a yearning to leave a legacy, to become well known for what you do?

And if so, why?

I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, Maria xxoo


PS:  If you need help creating your own niche or style, please consider letting me help!  Visit my Consulting Page and let’s set up a time to talk.





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54 Comments How to Become a Famous Artist and Leave a Legacy

  1. Lynne

    Thanks for this article. I learned a lot I needed to know in our consulting session. I’m implementing steps, and it’s really turning out to be fun. Instead of rushing to churn out large amounts of work all at once, I’m slowly building my collection. Spending a lot more time on a piece than I used to. The most I’ve ever spent was a month, but learning to pace myself slowly. Not to get in too much of a rush.
    Thanks a again Maria. My wish is that all serious artists get a consulting session with you someday.

    1. Maria Bophy

      Lynne, thanks for sharing your approach to build your collection. Sounds like a sound plan. And thanks for your wish – it’s mine, too! 🙂

  2. Nikol

    Great article! I keep thinking about getting professional photos taken but never bite the bullet. Thanks for the extra nudge! 🙂

  3. Indigene Theresa Gaskin

    Once again, Maria, you’ve hit the nail on the head in this article! Thanks for laying it out in a way that we can all relate to and understand! I think the hardest part for me, is the niche market and where do I fit! But, that’s a phone call to you, in the near future! 🙂

  4. Matt Baker

    Thanks for this great article. I’m a freelance artist, but not a great business person, and so I try to learn all I can from your useful articles. Much appreciated. I’m definitely trying to figure out what my niche market is and also nail down my personal style.

  5. Darrell Mordecai

    Hi Maria. Thanks for the great article. I can’t get the image of an alcoholic bear out of my mind. I used to rock climb and I really related to the introduction to the post.

    I’m not sure I want fame as one of my main goals but I definitely think it is useful for finding new clients. No new clients means no new business (which usually results in a diet of lentils and mouldy bread crusts) .

    Having said that I am originally South African, and when I was there recently I definitely got a warm fuzzy feeling when people mentioned how much they love my art work.

    1. tom laura

      Hey Maria, Thanks for another thought provoking post! Another way I think of fame is that it is an indication of successful brand building. My art is the product that I am selling to make a living, and building brand awareness is an important aspect of expanding my business. Your 6 steps are a succinct road-map to successful marketing for any business! THANKS and Aloha, Tom

      1. Maria Bophy

        Tom, “Big Toe” so great to hear from you! Thanks for throwing your 2 cents in!

    2. Maria Bophy

      Darrell, thanks for sharing your thoughts on fame!

      I love lentils, but I agree, I don’t want to eat them everyday!

      I agree, and being known for what you do, and known for doing it well, helps to get new clients.

  6. Brando

    Maria , Great advice as always .
    Somehow I think the price you pay for fame can sometimes out weigh the price you collect for fame !
    I think if you do things right , money will follow . You don’t necessarily have to be famous to be successful but if someone thrives for that its ok . I always loved the quote ” Quality is remembered far after the price is forgotten ” !

    1. Maria Brophy


      So right! It’s a trade off. Here’s a great quote by Ja Rule: “People think being famous is so glamorous, but half the time you’re in a strange hotel room living out of a suitcase.”

  7. Erin

    I just realized a strange dichotomy and psychological barrier I have. I would like to be well known (famous) one day. On the other hand I have a very strong aversion to most things “popular”. I think I need to pick one…?

  8. Remy Francis

    Thanks for the great tips Maria!! Am saving this and going to be reading your post as often as I can to keep me motivated to follow all your valuable suggestions.

  9. Rusty Sherrill

    Maria and Drew,
    After 23 years working as an artist in the surf industry, I left two years ago to pursue my lifelong dream of making a living off my fine art. It was scary then and is still scary now. My hope was to completely lose myself in my art, finish the pieces that have been in my head for so long, and then hit the galleries that cater to my type of art. Unfortunately life has thrown some unexpected challenges my way, slowing down my plan, but I’m still on my path and striving every day for that dream.

    Thank you for your blogs. This one, like so many before, has helped me get back up when life has thrown me down and to focus on my goal. Sometimes when I read your blogs it’s just nice knowing there are people out there who have also gone through and understand this whole crazy art life.

    Thanks again,

    1. Maria Brophy

      Rusty, thanks for sharing your story! I’m glad this article helped you somehow. Yes, this “art life” can be crazy, but we love it, don’t we?!

  10. Lynne Buchanan

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Maria. You always delve right to the heart of the matter. The question of fame is so interesting. I don’t desire fame and am not particularly interested in seeking it being somewhat of an introvert, but if I am not recognized on a larger scale I will have to give up as photography is not what it used to be in terms of an artistic path. People are inundated with images and don’t seem to want to purchase them even when they love them and are inspired by them and the message they convey. I sell a few here and there out of an artisans guild, to people who happen to come across my work, and out of the space I rent that is subsidized by the city I recently moved to, but not nearly enough to keep going. In fact, I had a huge loss last year, because I traveled to get a more global perspective. I consistently produce a large quantity of work, have professional images, it is all about an inspiring message–one that many people seem hungry to receive from their positive feedback and the fact I am periodically asked to give free talks to large groups of people, and yet it still has little value from a commercial standpoint and won’t unless I become famous. Yet, I don’t make images that are trendy or cutting edge, or show things that are so incredible they are unbelievable.

    The funny thing is fame is so antithetical to what I am doing, which is to convey a right relation to the earth and the rest of the creatures that inhabit it as one being with equal value living in unity. I photograph standing within the web of life and channel the deeper energies in nature and my own being when I do so. My work is about connection and respecting life. It conveys a deep spiritual message that is essential for the world to receive from as many artists, writers, and spiritual leaders as possible, to shift our awareness from living on the world to living with her as the Lakota Tiokasin Ghosthorse so eloquently wrote.

    So what to do. I have had three solo exhibitions in various venues including a museum in the past three years and sold only a few photographs, though the show was so well-received they extended the closing date three times. I took this relative lack of sales personally at first as implying my work is valueless, but I know it is not because it is about something much larger than myself. It is about respecting and sustaining life. I write a blog that has received almost 9,000 views, which is not a lot for things that go viral and launch a person, but given that it is unadvertised and the photographs are accompanied by my philosophical musings tells me people are waking up to the need to recognize a spiritual dimension in their lives and in the earth before we destroy her.

    This is not a legacy I want to leave from a limited personal viewpoint. I don’t care if people remember me when I am gone, but I deeply desire that they wake up to my message. Part of me would much rather just hole up and write, paint, and photograph for myself as self-healing in a world that is spiraling out of control. The other part relentlessly tells me I have to do everything I can to help shift consciousness through my art and writing, that I need to spread this desire to heal ourselves and the planet before it is too late.

    These are not easy things to translate into sales and sales are probably not the direction my photography is headed for. I am going to give some images away to a program that puts art in hospitals and hospices, which I love the idea of because I am often told my work is healing and why not help sick and dying people feel better. This also will not cost me any money like displaying framed work to the public does. Yet, I want to inspire healthy people to act in addition to healing people’s souls. So how do you get work out there on a broad scale to be viewed without earning money from sales? Are there programs to lease artwork? Are there other ways of earning money through art with a social/spiritual message? I do not care about earning a lot of money, just finding enough to afford to keep showing my images. I feel this deep need, both in myself and in the world, to keep inspiring others to realize nature and the earth are beautiful, healing, and valuable in their own right. They are worth saving for ourselves and our children, and it is this pressing and immediate as there is no guarantee it will last through the seven generations the Native Americans consider when doing anything that impacts the environment.

    My apologies for the length of this post. I just wonder what you do when you have established your skills and artistic style and found your message and niche, but it turns out it is not one that may ever have the prospect of earning enough money to keep me going even though it reaches and touches people. It seems to me that photography is an art form that is entering a new paradigm and moving away from sales in the traditional sense. Until I can figure out what this paradigm is and how to work within it with my message, I am considering abandoning photography as an artistic path and concentrating on my writing–another difficult road I admit. I am currently working on a book of my solo cross country journey last fall, and may illustrate it with some of my photographs. This is the only direction I can see that makes sense for me right now and at least I will evolve more spiritually in the process of writing this memoir whether it is published or not.

  11. Kori Vincent

    Loved the post. So glad I found you. This is a great resource for me. I want to be remembered for living a truly creative life. Thinking outside of the normal 9 to 5 grind to create a life that serves myself and my family spiritually as well as financially!

  12. cj judd artist

    I came across your art ticle and had fun reading it. Unfortunately for me now that I’m old and reclusive, the possibility of becoming a farm moose artist is rather elusive. When I die, my art will end up in land fill and become the fossil evidence of my existence.

  13. Anis


    Thank you very much for very useful tips on the business of art. You are doing a great service to the artist community.

    I am a newbie in the art world. I took painting seriously only a year ago but I have painted consistently and until now created 20 paintings in oil. I post photographs of these paintings on my blog. My question is: Do I run the risk of these paintings being copied and used by someone before I exhibit, or it doesn’t matter because someone can make a copy but cannot copy the spirit that belongs to me. Besides, why should anybody copy an abstract art when he can create his own. What do you think?

  14. Richard de Beauvoir

    Hi Maria,
    I would like to know if you know anything about this landscape artist and his signed work is Olshof ?



  15. Violet Newborn

    Hi how are you my name is Violet. I’m looking to become the first African American woman artist to be named along with the greats Picasso etc. Literally trying to make that statement become a reality. Learned alot from your page it actually got me recharged on making my dream become a reality. I get so inspired by others works that I actually get discouraged. Because their art is really amazing. I realize I have a ways to go in the confidence department. Plus I’m very introverted I prefer being in the background, I know I’m a total contradiction. I use my art as my voice so much so I much rather my art do the talking. I’m in school studying to become an Art Therapist looking forward to teach others to heal through art like I have. I’m still healing. But by reading all the information I’ve read so far I see you have a gift yourself.

  16. Lamberto Acyatan

    Maria Bophy
    Thank you for your great article. I wish you can help me but I don’t have enough money to pay you, but I have a lot of work to give as payment for your consultation.


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  18. Pat Welsh

    Thank you for this post. It was helpful and thought provoking. I have been for many years an author, public speaker, TV communicator but also a life-long painter who, in youth, had good teachers. For many years I have planned to spend the last years of my life painting, as my father did. Now in my late 80’s I have begun to paint one day a week. I hope eventually to paint every day. I would like to leave a body of work. For the sake of my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren it would be nice if it were worth something eventually.

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  20. Stefan Eatmon

    Im just discovering your blog and online presence and I must say that in the short amount of time it took me to read your article I found myself inspired, re-assured, and angry.
    yOu inspired me to actually take myself professionally. I’ve always let my work do the talking but lacked the education in how to set up a pricing guide that I could feel confident would land clients and still help me make a comfortable living with my art.
    You re assured me that the steps I had been taking for years were not wrong just incomplete. When I collect the dividends on my next work I will be investing in some of your packages. Talk about a great product over view!
    I am angry that I had not come across your website/services earlier. I would be five to ten years ahead of where I am now had I been exposed to your services earlier. Honestly the price guides and contract work has always slowed me down and I was tired over the top client requests that seem to constantly shift as the process turned from days to weeks.
    I loom forward to ordering your materials and consulting with a professional who knows what artists want.

  21. Holly M Colino

    I googled ‘only eltists get recognized’ and found this.

    I have done what was told.

    All I get is secretly admiring people, people secretly messaging that they liked my work, copy and mimickers and character rape.

    I have tried now for almost ten years.

    I noticed the girls who use sex appeal and photo shop – quickly win the attention. That goes against everything I am. I don’t support fraud and using sex appeal to get attention.

    The character especially hurts. The lack of a thank you hurts. I noticed I an inspiring others, but I do not eve get a like, a share and most of the time not even acknowledged with a, “thanks, you inspired”. Once, I had a person berate me on every video and blog post I wrote. He kept stalking me through third parties and smear campaigning me publicly. But, he kept emailing and exposed he admired me.

  22. Holly M Colino

    Maybe my problem is my intent. I never do creative work for the purpose of being famous. I am not saying, “I want to be the next big somebody, and I am going to make this painting or song, from that intent”. Many people are using ‘art’ as a means of hoarding attention. These people will do almost anything and they do if for attention – defeating the purpose of creating.

  23. Lorene Crisalli

    I had the strangest thing happen today.. After searching on the web it brought me to your very informative website.. Thank you for sharing your wealth of information. So today the strangest thing happened. I always loved art and wished I could just sit down and draw or paint an amazing work of art. Growing up I remember my mom painting gorgeous oil paintings. I remember always asking her to draw something for me. Her answer was always “you draw it, your better at sketching then I am.” Well that was not true but thanks mom! My mom also had a a love for anything relating to angels and cherubs. Through her I realized how much I loved them as well…. But no matter how many times I tried I just couldn’t draw an angel. In 2010 my mom had a massive heart attack and passed away, she was just 62 years old….I felt as if I died that day as well, half of me was now gone, she was my best friend! Life without my mom has been way to hard for me. I wonder how I will make it from one day to the next. Then today something so odd happened. I suffer from a brain condition which causes spinal fluid to build up in my brain. This causes confusion along with almost total loss of vision, this is from the extreme pressure on my optic nerve. This is a illness that one cannot see, it is only I that knows how much I suffer from it. Today in the middle of doing housework I get this feeling that I needed to draw something. I get out my sketch pad and just start drawing. I now realize that I can hardly see the paper, it’s all a blur, but I keep drawing. After a while to my surprise I realize that what I was drawing was an angel. After what seems like hours I take a good look at my picture, although I can hardly see it because of my vision. It may just be me but I was very surprised that the drawing looked pretty good.. I thought to myself, this was mommys style when sketching. Never in a million years could I draw like I did today. At this point I realize that I am having a very difficult time drawing the second wing. By this time I had erased the second wing a dozen times, no matter how hard I tried it looked nothing like a wing. By now I’m getting angry at myself for even spending so much time on this when I had so much to do around my house. Totally frustrated I set the drawing aside, make a cup of tea and go sit on my deck. While sitting there I say out loud “mom why are you not here? If you were you could draw this wing for me.” You see I talk to my mom everyday.. Hoping and praying that I will get some sign from her. This is when I realize that I always thought of my mom as an angel now in heaven… Could that be why I just started drawing a picture of an angel? Out load I say, “mom why can’t I draw the second wing?” For the first time in the 6 years since my mom passed I had a strange thought like I could feel my mom around me while I was asking her this question. And then I hear my mom say something to me, not out loud but almost like it was in the light wind that we had today… What I heard was “honey, you can’t draw the wing because the wing is broken. Stop drawing, the angel is done.. You need to call it , The Broken Wing… ” I am still in total shock by what accured today. But what I do know is that my mom helped me draw that picture and she named it “The Broken Wing.” …I am hoping that I get this urgency to to draw many pictures of angels ….guided by my precious mothers hand.

  24. Hermes F. Hernandez

    Your writings are very refreshing and your name is very famous Maria… Very glad you you are making it in this hard and amazing
    new marketing where everything is Art
    and if we are lucky with a very simple art creation anyone can be famous overnight.
    I always think that i am creating art just for myself.
    Keep creating Maria !!!


    Artist Painter
    New York Resident.

  25. Michelle Lourens

    Thank you for this article. This will help me to get more of my artwork sold and help me be a better artist.

  26. Catherine Ludwig Donleycott

    Your excellent article touched me emotionally. Because three of my younger siblings, and all my aunts and uncles and some of my cousins have already left this world, I realize I have lost most of the village that raised me and with whom I grew up. Recently, the idea of leaving a legacy of my art, design, and writing has emerged as my antidote to my future view that includes too much death…including my own.

  27. Ralph

    The most important part of being an artist is always remaining true to yourself, authentic. That is the key in my opinion. The second is create art because you are passionate about creating art, because you want to share a part of yourself and inspire, encourage, touch, enlighten, teach, entertain, etc, and the money and popularity will eventually follow. Great article. Thanks for sharing Maria!

  28. Cassandra

    Definitely agree with the sharing your art online part. In this age we live in sharing your art online is a must, in my opinion, in order to become famous. Livestreaming services such as Picarto.TV where you can show off your creative skills are also a good opportunity to reach a wider audience. Unfortunately I don’t really have the confidence in my own skills to do it, but it’s always fun to watch other artists do their thing 🙂

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