Maria Brophy


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The One Secret of Rich and Famous Artists

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Photo: Damien Hirsts' LOVE OF GOD

Photo: Damien Hirsts' LOVE OF GOD

They say that time changes things.  But you actually have to change them yourself.”  Andy Warhol

There is one secret to success that all wealthy, famous artists share.

And when I tell you what it is, you’ll be surprised, and maybe even a little ticked off.

Some of you will be offended, because it’ll go against everything you’ve been led to believe about art.

And some of you will be relieved, because it will confirm what you’ve always known.

But first I want to clarify the different meanings of success.

What is success?

It is whatever YOU want it to be.

For some people, it’s the ability to do what they love, creating full-time, and earning a living off of it.

And that is the ultimate success, doing what you love for a living.

For others, it’s gaining fame and wealth through their talent.  And that’s okay, too.

For yet others, it’s creating fabulous art in their bedroom just for their closest friends & family.

For those who see success as being financial, I’m going to share with you a HUGE secret, the secret that is shared by the most financially successful artists known, such as Damien Hirst, Thomas Kinkaide, Julian Schnabel and Warhol, creative people who became multi-millionaires off of their art.

But first I want to ask you, are they the most talented artists you’ve known of?  Probably not, though some of them are incredibly gifted, and the others, well, let’s just say that I’ve seen more talent hidden in the attic of the old lady who lives down the street.

What is the one secret that these successful artists share? It’s this:

Financial Success in art has very little to do with talent. Only 10% is due to your talent – the rest is all about business and how well you handle your  MARKETING, PROMOTING, STRATEGY and  PLANNING.

(I can feel the art purists cringing over this, but you know it to be true when you see a guy like Kinkaide earning millions off of his “Painter of Light”  prints).

This shouldn’t upset you – you can’t change what is. Work it to your advantage.  If you are truly talented, and then you apply the basics of business to it, you’ll find great success with ease.


The people that became wildly rich & successful?

They planned it that way.

Maria xxoo

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20 Comments The One Secret of Rich and Famous Artists

  1. Jeff Dolan

    Thanks for making this point, Maria. So many miss it.

    It’s the worrying about what other people think and comparing your art to others where any definition of success starts to suffer. In a word, confidence. It takes confidence to make art and be detached from its reception by the world.

  2. Maria Brophy

    Jeff, I agree – we worry too much about what others think, to the point that we lose sight of what WE should be doing. I like the way you described it. Thanks!

  3. aileen

    Agreed! Actually, not that shocking to me as I’ve watched many artists’ careers unfold.

    Also, SHOWING UP is important! Last night I heard a horror story of an artist barely finishing a painting 5 minutes before an important show. But, the gallery owner told me something else… 50% of artists are flakes! No wonder galleries aren’t eager to take a chance on emerging artists. At that rate, who can blame them???

  4. aileen

    Yes, I was shocked to hear this! Not good news for folks who haven’t had a chance to prove themselves if all artists are assumed flaky. But good news for the unflaky professional artists!

  5. Dr. Bill Rosenblatt

    Maria, I hope you are aware of just how relevant your observations and
    comments are to people who are not artists. As I’ve said to you privately,
    I am sharing many of your pieces with clients as they are good guidelines for living life. Thanks and keep these coming.

    1. Maria

      Thanks, Bill. I’m so glad that you feel that way! You’re always so complimentary, Helps me know I’m on the right path!

  6. Pingback: I’m a Shameful Opportunist! But it works. | Philosophy - Maria Brophy

  7. Archan Mehta


    Once again, this is a fabulous post, and just what I needed to read.

    I always wondered about why some ordinary artists lived large off of their proceeds, whereas more talented artists failed to make the grade and ended up with short life-spans and as penniless paupers.

    I was naive about the importance of marketing and PR, for example, and you have just cleared the cobwebs gathering dust inside my mind. I appreciate your input and want to encourage you to keep on writing. I learn something important from each piece you write.

    See, now I understand why some creative people always seem to be in the news and win the popularity contest of public opinion. Why, they issue a press release about their work and have reporters writing about their latest work of art. The art they produce might not be that great, but because of the media coverage, such artistic creations probably receive the benefit of the doubt if not outright acceptance.
    Correct me if I am wrong, Maria, but this is what I understood from your piece, although I am sure it is a little more complicated than that.

  8. Sugarluxe Art

    I love your post Maria. This is the very foundation on which I build the entire semester’s expectations for my interns. They are always gifted and that’s why I select them out of a 100+ applicants each term, but what they aren’t learning in their traditional education is that to survive takes other creative skills.

    I’m completely on board with you and want to teach artists to shift their mindset. Because as we both know, business, marketing, promotion – to do those things well and with limited budget takes tons of creativity, too. Just like envisioning the ideas for a new piece of art.

    I’d love to get to paint all day, every day…but I welcome the challenges of the business side because it’s like yoga for my brain…it stretches me out of my comfort zone and makes my creative muscles more flexible – which over time I believe – makes me a better artist.

    1. Maria Brophy

      Chandra (Sugarluxe!) – You’re right – we need to shift the mindset of artists to help reverse this silly “starving” thing. Thank God for the internet – we can spread ideas so much quicker and easier than ever before.

  9. E.S

    Interesting observation. But the truth is, that many people look at success “after the fact” and conveniently imagine that their was no luck involved. In truth many work equally hard, with talent and try to do everything right, but don’t get the brakes. Damien Hirsts was incredibly lucky that one of his first student shows was visited by Charles Saatchi. If something else had happened, and Saatchi hadn’t gone to the show that day, Hirsts probably wouldn’t of had that incredible break and probably would of had to work at a regular job… So in the art world there are plenty of discoveries and luck…

  10. Zakari

    As revealing as the led lights that illuminates my Lagos studio, even to the most obscure corner. Thanks Maria. This means a lot.

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