How's that for a title? Like I have the answer right?
I often run into budding artists either in person or online that ask me what I think they can do to be successful. Aside from portfolio advice, going to school or getting tutored, blogging, sending out promos, making awesome art & products, etc (all of which are super important) here's what I think the most important thing is:
I think you have to be committed for life. Some plan on writing and/or illustrating a book but if it doesn't get published they'll move on and find something else to do. Some plan to apply for studio jobs but fall back on something else if it doesn't pan out. Just the other day someone told me they were going to try making a story app to see if it will sell. I think this is the wrong attitude. What if it doesn't sell? Does that mean you didn't learn something valuable for your next one?...and the one after that?
One thing I've come to realize is that the truly successful artists have been and continue to be - committed for life. It's all they want to do. It's all they live for. It's what they do. It's who they are. If they have a set back they accept it as part of the journey. I dare you to show me a successful artist that doesn't have his/her fair share of bumps and bruises. I can't count the number of time I've had to lick my wounds - but they scab up over time and those scars become great stories later on.
Stan Lee - creator of Spider Man said, "Mine is the longest overnight success story of all time!"...he was committed even when his comics were being canceled by his publisher - he stuck it out...what if he had quit? Think of all the super hero movies he's responsible for...
The piece above was a pretty crappy demo in class but I love working on art so much I came home and played with it in Photoshop for two hours. I love art and I'll be making it for the rest of my life.