9 Traits That Are Important for Any Artist to Acquire.

Red Flowers

Being an artist and running an art business is similar to being an entrepreneur. An artist must develop the same traits as many successful business people, but besides those traits, there are additional traits that are important for any artist to have and acquire.

Some of the traits that any artist should try to acquire are traits such as inspiration, the power of observation, the ability to develop a good memory, and having an imagination. It is also good to develop the art of persistence and patience along with discipline. And finally, if an artist can see life as a great adventure it will help them not only in life but in their artwork.

Developing all these traits are important to an artist, as it will help them to be successful in their artwork and art business. It can be said that being an artist is a journey and not a destination, in that, an artist should always be learning, growing and improving their artwork and style. But besides developing as an artist there are also traits that an artist can develop to help them become more successful.


Inspiration is at the core of what an artist does. An artist gets an idea or feels inspired and then put it down on their painting or through their artwork

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, it was said for inspiration that

“Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities. Inspiration may sometimes be overlooked because of its elusive nature. Its history of being treated as supernatural or divine hasn’t helped the situation. But as recent research shows, inspiration can be activated, captured, and manipulated, and it has a major effect on important life outcomes.”

Scott Kaufman, Harvard Business Review

So according to Scott Kaufmann in his article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review, inspiration is very important as it can propel us to do things we would not ordinarily do or transcend our own capabilities.

For an artist, this is very important, as inspiration is at the core of what we do. It will help us see and feel things in our art that others do not see and this will then make our art interesting and exciting. Edgar Degas said it beautifully when he said:

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Edgar Degas

So it can be said that art is about helping others to see and feel the inspiration that artists will see and feel. That inspiration is at the core of great art.

The Power of Observations

A great artist should be a great observer. They need to be able to observe all the things around them and then they put down how and what they observe into their art and artwork.

This is such an important part of art teaching that some art teachers will use what they call an observation drawing or painting exercises. Observational drawing is where you have something placed in front of you and you draw or create what you see. The reason they do this is that observation drawing will:

  • Develops perceptions of understanding of what is being drawn. – It can be said that drawing is the act of the mind observing and then the hand answering by drawing what has been observed by the mind. It requires the person to look hard and then draw what and how they see what they are observing.
  • It is a good training exercise in observation. – By being forced to have to look at an object and then draw what you see it is a good training exercise in observation. Did you miss something or did you not see the detail or shadow you should have seen? Did you forget an important part of your observation? By practicing this kind of observation it can train your mind to observe things better as an artist.
  • Questions arise which can lead to an intense study – As you practice the observation drawing technique it can lead to questions being asked as did you miss something? Did you see all your should have seen? As you start to ask those relevant questions and do an intense study of the object, it should help you to see things that others do not or can not see and become a better observer for your artwork.

Memory and Art

Our memory is a great tool for any artist. In fact, it is our memory and our experiences which are usually in some way reflected in our artwork. As an artist every day as we work on our artwork, we are in some way using our memory. Using our memory is one of the skills we are using as an artist.

In writing about memory and how an artist uses it the Khan Academy in their blog entitled What Role Does Memory Play in Art? said:”

“Because it can take the form of sensations, images, and emotions, memory lends itself perfectly as a subject and tool for art and artists. With the idea of memory in mind, some artists try to document things exactly as they are in order to create a record for future generations. But others deliberately frame the past in different or unexpected ways to change the way we think about history. “

Khan Academy

So in other words, our memory and how we see things or perceived things in our past and even our present can affect our art in many ways, The memory we use can play hand-in-hand with our inspiration. We can use our memory to inspire us with the artwork we are doing.


Not everyone is the same and not every artist will like or appreciate the same things. In fact, this is true in that everyone from what music people like, to how they prefer to decorate their home, to how an artist will view their art – we are all different and unique. At the core of these differences, is our imagination.

I believe if you had two people – one was an artist and one was not – sitting in an entirely blank room that was completely empty – the artist would look about the room and imagine what the room would look like if there were colors or paintings or a design on the walls. This is because an artist has trained themselves to not just see a blank canvas but to see the potential of that blank canvas. The other person in the room may look at the room and just see a room where the walls are white and it is empty. The difference here is that the artist is about to imagine in their mind what the room will be like if it was not empty, just like they can see how they are going to paint on a blank canvas.

A great artist has a great imagination. They can see and feel things with their imagination that others do not see and feel. It is that imagination that in part drives them to do their artwork.

Keith Haring, the late artist that did some amazing imaginative work during his short life said this about imagination

Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.

keith haring

For an artist to do great artwork they then use their skills of observation, their memory they have and finally their imagination. All of these play and act together to help the artist to do the kind of creative art the way that they do. Observation, memory, and imagination are all important trans for an artist to develop.

But there are also traits that can help an artist to become great such as persistence, patience, passion, and discipline. All of those traits also help to drive an artist to success.


Persistence is a good quality for anyone to have but can be especially good for an artist to acquire. Art takes time; It takes effort. Being an artist is a journey that can take a lifetime. That is why art and the pursuit of art is a journey that is ageless as you will spend your life working and improving your art.

But also as an artist, you will face rejection in your life and some of this rejection will be extremely heartbreaking. It can even sometimes come from those you are close to who do not understand or appreciate what you are doing with your artwork. It can be with people who start to tell you to “go out and get a real job” when your art is not selling as it should. So having persistence as an artist is very important.

Calvin Coolidge, the former US President said this about persistence

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Calvin Coolidge

So persistence even in the face of a very difficult rejection or a hard time is a very important attribute tor any artist.

To understand more about how to handle artistic rejection you can read out blog 11 Ways to Properly Handle Criticism of Your Artwork by clicking here.


Patience is also an important trait for anyone to have but especially important for artists as you will need to have a lot of patience in life. Things do not come quickly, in fact at times, they can come very slowly – much slower than what we want or hope. Patience to keep on learning your art. and keep on growing as an artist is extremely important.

Sandy Askey-Adams, an artist wrote this about patience:

”  It takes time to develop as an artist and patience is a very important trait for an artist to have.  Who wants to wait for this to happen?  It goes beyond that.  We learn perseverance and fortitude with patience. 

At times it may seem like you are not improving with your work, like nothing is happening, but there really is something happening.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It is a working process.”

Sandy Askey-Adams


Most artists understand that passion and art go hand-in-hand, As it is the passion for our artwork that continues to drive us to do our art even in the face of difficulties. It is the passion that drives and inspires us to keep on going even if no one is purchasing our art because we believe in what we are doing.

I really love this definition of passion by Carrie Lewis:

“Passion is the driving force that keeps you making art even when there seems to be no other reason for it.”

Carrie Lewis

So passion then is our ability to keep on going, to keep on persevering and keep on being an artist when there seems to be no reason for you to keep ongoing. I believe that is how will know if you are truly an artist or not. You know this if you keep on doing your artwork because it is so much a part of you and who you are that you cannot stop. There is something that continues to drive you on.


You may wonder isn’t discipline the same as having passion and persistence? I mean aren’t they exactly the same things? But discipline – true discipline is a bit different than persistence. You can have perseverance in your work day-after-day and do what needs to be done but it does not mean that you have the actual discipline to do it correctly or to get completed as it needs to be done. Showing up is not the same thing as having discipline in life.

Jason Horejs in his blog RedDotBlog spoke about on a road trip he took with his children and he asked them what superpowers they would want to have? His kids all listed different superpowers then Jason said he would want the superpower of super discipline. Here is what he said about discipline:

“While discipline might not make the cut as a superpower, I would argue that discipline, especially self-discipline, is critical to one’s ability to achieve success in life. The ability to dream big and set goals is important too, but I would argue that without discipline, it’s nearly impossible to achieve anything worthwhile in life.

I feel this is especially true for artists. I marvel at an artist’s ability to get into the studio and work persistently toward his or her vision. An artist, it seems to me, must have an incredible drive to work day after day through difficult circumstances. It takes real discipline.”

jason horejs

Discipline like moat things in life it is a skill that you can learn and acquire. You are not necessarily born with discipline, nor is it is a matter of genes. Though I am sure the kind of house you grew up in maybe did help some to develop discipline younger rin life than others.

But if you were not lucky enough to acquire discipline while growing up, then you can always work to develop the trait of discipline in life.

Here are some steps you can take in life to master the art of discipline in life and what your art:

  • Know your weaknesses – We all have weaknesses. We have things that may stop us from doing what we need to do or should do. Spend some time to identify what those things are. Then own up to your weaknesses and flaws.
  • Remove the temptations – Then remove the temptation. I will sometimes paint and watch a bit of TV. I know how you paint and watch TV at the same time? Actually I listen more to the TV while I am painting. But I have learned I can only put on certain shows or programs or I will get so focused on the TV show that I may sit there watching it with my paintbrush in my hand. At that point, I am not getting much painting done at that point. Better yet I turn on music or listen to a book on tape and do not have the TV on at all. So remove the temptation whatever it may be that stops you from getting your work done that you need to get done.
  • Set Clear Goals to Execute a Plan – Having goals and a plan can really help you with all your endeavorsJu in life and especially with your artwork. I know it helps to motivate me to get things done even if I do not feel like doing it. So set a plan for your artwork and art business of what you hope to accomplish this year, this month, this week and then today Then start o do those steps you need to do to get the things you want to accomplish and competed.

Enjoy the Adventure

Life is an adventure and being an artist is one of the greatest adventures There will be ups and downs and successes and failures, but it will be life rich with colors, designs, imagination, and passion. Being an artist of any kind is a great and wonderful adventure. So learn to enjoy the adventure of life while you are living life to its very fullest.

The artists Joe Joseph P. Blodgett said this about being an artist and living a life of adventure:

“Once an artist gets it in his mind that it’s a blooming adventure, then, and only then, everything falls into place and starts to work. “

Joe Joseph P. Blodgett

Just like constantly developing your art is important it is also important for an artist to always look at ways they can constantly develop the traits that will make them successful as an artist. Many of these same traits that artists need to develop are the same that must be developed by those in other professions. Learn these things and enjoy the great adventure that life has to offer as an artist.

Related Questions

What Makes a Person an Artist?

A person is an artist who makes art. It is really just that simple. The minute you decide to pick up your paintbrush or another tool to make your art you are then an artist.

The Huffington Post had a very good article on this called “How Do you Define Artist?” You can read their article by clicking here.,

But the short answer to that question is anyone who picks up a brush or produces any kind of art is an artist.

Can Anyone Be An Artist?

In theory, anyone can be an artist but in reality, not everyone is an artist. There are a few basic skills that an artist needs and becoming an artist like a musician will require some training.

Some of the basic skills an artist needs are:

  • Skill – Being an artist requires some skill. Yes, it is a skill that can be learned but just like you must learn to be a doctor or nurse, there are also skills that are required for you to be an artist.
  • Talent – A great artist has a natural talent and inclination to be an artist, For many artists, they just see or observe or feel things differently than others do. Teaching this natural talent is hard but having a natural talent does not mean you are automatically a great artist. Like e all talents it has to be nurtured and grown for it to really blossom.
  • Creativity – Creativity is the ability of the artist to see and feel something that others do not readily see and feel. This is something that is much harder to teach and I feel this is usually partly inside the artist and also at the same time something the artist acquires with a lot of hard work and practice.

Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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