I am not going to offer you a definition of success, but I am going to share with you real steps to mastering something that you are interested in doing and having it benefit your life.
The first thing to do is to decide
if graphic art is something that really interests you.  One way of doing this is to ask yourself the following questions:

Do you see the potential for this subject to be exciting to you 5 or 10 years from now?

Do you see a wide variety of future possibilities that are compelling to you?

Do you believe that mastering graphic design is capable of bringing you the lifestyle you want?

Are you naturally inclined toward some aspect of the business, such as photography, painting, drawing, editing/creating images online or design in general? 

It is obviously very important that you are honest with yourself in answering these questions.  If yes, then the second step is to plan to master it.

What Does It Take To Master Graphic Art?

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my Mastery, it wouldn't seem that wonderful at all." - Michelangelo

Do not over react to what I'm about to share with you,  I want to assure you, it's more exciting than it sounds.  Here it goes...

To truly master most anything in business or life, takes 5 to 10 years.
Ouch! Oh my God!  Noooo!

I know, we all want it right now, if not sooner and yes, you may be able to launch a business in 6-9 months that is wildly successful, but that is the exception more than the rule.  Even if you are a quick success, and I want you to be one, you are still unlikely to be a master at it.  Let's look at it this way. To be a doctor takes about 8-10 years, to be a lawyer about 6-8 years and that's just to get started, they are far from being an expert at it.

So, why all this talk of mastery?  Because, that is what is going to enable you to be autonomous and live the life you really want.  Remember, you can start making money with your Art long before you become an authority and that money gets to be more and more as you make progress.  There are many graphic artists who have gone from 0 to six figures in less than 2 years, in fact we will be writing and talking about them right here on this site in the future.  Think about this too, if you are 40 years old and it takes you 5 years to master something that you like and you live to be 80, then you could master 8 different fields of interest even after your 40!  Sounds better now, doesn't it?  So, are you ready to master graphic arts?

Your Plan For Success

Now that you've decided, the third step is to plan for success.  I am going to lay out a plan for you that I would follow if I was starting from the beginning again.  It may surprise you to know that I was far less patient than this article implies.  I liked to jump right in and start doing, I just wanted to do it now.  I am writing this for you so that you can avoid the mistakes I made and have steady progress with faster rewards by doing what works.
This plan of action is intended to be an overview to guide you and we will have separate articles to cover each step in greater depth, otherwise this article will be far too long.  You are already doing the fourth step by being here and reading this and that is to research and learn. The truly successful are always in a state of learning, especially in a field where technology is always changing.  Try to view every experience with the thought of "How can I use this for my artistic development?".  See our Resources page for a more comprehensive guide on researching and learning  graphic design.  The internet allows those who want to learn a truly awesome opportunity to educate themselves.  Take advantage of online tutorials many of which are free.

The fifth step is to commit to your success.  This means taking an honest look at where you are spending your time.  This will be a true test of whether or not you really want to have success as a graphic artist. (Some people haven't even taken the time to read this far).  You must dedicate more time to achieving your goal.  Take a hard look at your schedule, how much time is spent on: TV, movies, social media, going out and partying. There is a time and an important place for those things, but they must take a much lower priority in your life if you want to master something.  Can you dedicate another hour a day to developing your graphic art skills?  Time is the one asset we all get the same amount of every day, how will you use yours?
Sixth is to help others in your industry, preferably the ones who are influencing everyone else, we'll show you how.  Helping others is going to be far and away the most important thing you can do and I'll tell you why.  Real help without asking for anything in return will build your credibility in the community to a level where people will eventually be surrounding and helping you that you never dreamed of.  You will be building real relationships by being useful.  I know, it's a totally radical idea. Do not offer help or a compliment to someone in your field and then immediately ask them to do something for you like check out your website or buy something from you.  That is the fastest way to destroy your reputation in the graphic art community and any community for that matter.

The seventh thing to do is to be sure that you are keeping in touch with everyone along the way. Simply put, networking.  Of course, you will be keeping in touch by offering help, encouragement and being useful.  Find a way to keep track of all of your contacts and list the dates you last connected as well as notes on their needs.  Your organization in this area is vital and will be of great benefit to your long term success.
Eighth, as you go along you will be continually adding to and editing your portfolio of artwork.  Finding your unique talent and refining your expertise more and more, focusing in on your strengths.  Keep your online portfolio updated with your latest work and organized.
The ninth thing to do, and you may be surprised this wasn't at the top of the list, is to  start making money with your Art.  This is a large topic and we will offer you our views, tips and resources throughout this website.  It will include working for other companies and when to work for yourself, that autonomy we spoke of at the beginning.

Tenth, reward yourself for every action you take and every new creation you design.  Even if it is just to take a moment a say to yourself "I am grateful for what I just accomplished."  You must be kind to yourself and encouraging at the moment of every completed work.  Through this your determination will grow and that is one of the most important aspects of your success,

Here's To Your Success! - The 3D Graphic Art Team.

Summary and Links:
Are you really ready?
Plan of Action
Researching and Learning
Building a Network
Making Money
Reward Yourself

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Success As A Graphic Artist

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