Maria Brophy


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10 Success Principles for Artists / business of art

Plan your Art Career – Success Principle Number One

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Plan your Life Path


First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”  Epictetus

I’ve always envied people who knew what they wanted to be at a young age.  They are the ones who find success at a young age, doing what they dreamed of as a child.  I never latched onto any dreams, because I wasn’t very good at making decisions back then.  I sort of floated through jobs, not really doing what excited me.  Now that I’m older, I finally understand the principle of creating your life to be what you want.  And I’m living my own dream life, writing and traveling the way I want to.  If only I had known this secret when I was younger…

The most successful artists in the world know that you can create the life you want.

It happens this way:  First decide what you want, then take action to make it happen.

At the age of sixteen, the now famous marine artist, Wyland, had tried his hand at odd jobs.  After getting fired from his third manual labor job, he decided to be an artist.  He committed to this decision, and it took him ten years to be able to earn a decent living at it.

Being a professional artist was the only option he gave himself.  He had no “plan B”.  He was dedicated to his decision.  Wyland is now the top marine artist in the world, selling paintings for up to a million dollars, and saving marine mammals with his Wyland Foundation.

THE FIRST STEP TO DESIGNING YOUR LIFE IS TO DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT.  To get what you want, you have to know exactly what that is.

My artist husband, Drew Brophy, was the one who taught me that you could create your own life.  He always says “Maria, anything you want is right there.  All you have to do is decide what you want, and then grab it.”

He should know.   He decided as a teenager that he wanted to live a life where he would create art and travel the world surfing the best waves on the globe.  “Nobody lives like that” one teacher said.  His guidance counselor also tried to discourage this plan, as well as other well-meaning adults in his life.  But being the rebellious guy that he was, Drew was determined to carry out his dream.  He eventually became a successful surf artist who travels the world with his family, living the life of his dreams.

Some of us just can’t decide. Many forces hold us back from making a solid decision.  One is our parents.  We don’t want to disappoint.  The other is the fear of failure.  Another is the reluctance to make a commitment.

You’ll have to squash your hesitations and decide, if you want to be the one who determines your path. Otherwise, your path will be chosen for you by default, and probably not how you want it.


Magic occurs when you write things down. The intentions you write end up happening over time.  It’s a secret shared by many successful people.

The act of writing down what you want helps to cement it in your subconscious mind, which makes you more aware when opportunities arise that will help you reach these goals.

Answers will come to you while you’re singing in the shower or walking your dog or staring at a flower.  You’ll seem to attract people and things that can help you get to where you decided you want to go.

To help you get a clear vision of what you want as a career artist, get a piece of paper and write a list.  Break it down into categories:

  • What type of Artist do you want to be?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What impact do you want to make on the world with your art?
  • How much money do you want to make from your art?
  • What is the ideal lifestyle for you as an artist?

For each category, envision the ideal situation for yourself in a paragraph.  Write exactly what you want, no matter how big it seems.  Trust that you can make it happen.


I’m going to say something really crazy right now:

Don’t have a “Plan B”.  Burn all bridges behind you.  That way you CAN’T fail, because you’ll have to figure it out.  You are fully capable, and once you find that trust in yourself, you’ll make it happen.

Make every day count towards your plan.  Find out what you need to do to make it happen.

And then do it.

Maria xxoo  (Photo credit:

PS:  This is Principle 1 of the 10 Success Principles for Artists feature.

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19 Comments Plan your Art Career – Success Principle Number One

  1. Pingback: 10 Principles for an Artists Success | 10 Success Principles for Artists - Maria Brophy

  2. Caroline

    Insightful and inspiring…not having a plan B can sound scary to alot of people but it totally makes sense. Carrying out your dreams without hesitations or fear of failure is the ultimate freedom. Very motivating! I look forward to reading more…

  3. kyle

    Looking forward to the next 9.
    Always great to read inspiring words like these, little reminders. As well, good to know others are making the same types of sacrifices and pushing towards a dream!

    1. Maria Brophy

      Thanks, Kyle. I think we are all pushing towards our personal dream. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Cocoa this April!

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  7. Ben Thompson

    Know when to realize it is not working and quit. Nothing worse than failure not realizing it is failure.
    Try it and if it does not work, move on.
    Better to try and fail then never try.
    But too many people waste their lives not realizing their phantom dream does not fit into their reality.

  8. Athena Mantle

    This is so true, you do a great job of keeping me motivated! Thank you for that.

    This article says it’s the first of 10 articles on the Successful Principles for Artists but I only found 3 articles…are you going to write the other 7 soon? ;O) I’m looking forward to reading them.

    1. Maria Brophy

      Athena, thanks for the comment! Yes, I’m a little behind on keeping up with my 10 articles. But I’ll get them posted eventually!

  9. Marty Qatani

    Thanks Maria, for keeping me on my chosen path. Words of encouragement are always appreciated. I’m printing this out so I can look at it first thing every morning. Great way to keep me focused.

  10. Steven

    I will come back to your site this wk and read more. I am an avid procrastinator. I don’t like it. I have been from job to job. Careers from army, coast guard, truck driver, nurse, and many more. My true dream is art yet I have always drawn back. I will write it out as the fist step. This wk my wife who is a teacher is helping me plan time and lessons to learn to be a better artist.
    Thank you for your encouragement.

  11. Corina

    Maria, thank you so much for this incredible blog. It is exactly what I needed to find and it’s come at the perfect time. I look forward to reading all of the information here and putting it to good use.


    Corina 🙂

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  13. Alexanna Padilla Johnson

    Maria, thank you!! This post clarified for me that I have been living Plan B for years. Your article so moved me that I tweaked my art career to give it 100% and I even started a blog about committing to an art career in midlife :
    I even quoted you in my introductory post.
    Since I committed 100%, I’ve been accepted into a juried show, my first.
    I even have my husband on the bandwagon – no more Plan B for us. It’s Plan A all the way!

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  16. Inessa

    Maria, I think the five questions you have listed are in fact meaningful. I do have a general idea of each of these points in my life, but I have never thought of asking it so directly and actually writting it down. That will bring more clarity. So, thanks a lot, I`m now off to write the plan:)


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