The knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful artist or designer are a blend of innate, technical, creative, social, and business skills. Although art is often subjective, there is a certain level of talent that must exist for any artist to be successful. For instance, a painter who is unable to perceive depth or create anything original will struggle to be successful. There must be a certain level of innate talent for an artist or designer to create something that others would taken interest in. Having others interested in one’s work is not a qualification to be an artist, but it would be a qualification for becoming a successful artist.
Technical skills would vary depending on craft, but each of these elements would be necessary simply for working the tools of a trade. A painter will need to understand how to mix colors, and will need to understand certain elements of composition such as the rule of thirds, or color theory. A designer will need to know how to sew and how to conduct a fitting. This knowledge can be learned, either through a formal education or independently, but at some point there needs to be a deep understanding of how to perform these technical requirements, which translate into skills.
Creative skills can be more subjective, but creativity is often the result of wanting to create some new, and non-imitative. The most successful artists, in any artistic medium, are ones who contribute something that has never been seen before. In order to develop creativity, there needs to be knowledge of what has come before, and there must also be a vision for what can be reinterpreted or transformed. Artists will always take inspiration from the past; this is perhaps most evident in fashion design. However, the ones who are the most successful are the ones who are able to innovate, rather than merely imitate. The reason this is important for an artist or designer is because originality and a defined artistic vision will attract an audience, and having an audience is necessary if one seeks to become fully successful or professional in an artistic career. Although the size of the audience does not determine the amount of talent, a large audience simply introduces more potential patrons: this can be either fans of the work who are willing to purchase it, or for designers, it can provide more opportunities for retail locations to offer the brand within the shop.
Social skills are necessary because in order to build a brand, there is a certain level of networking necessary to bring attention to the brand. A brand for a visual artist such as a painter would be associated with the type of work being created; specific social skills involved might include communicating with gallery owners, meeting potential clients interested in the work, and connecting with other artists. For a designer, this might involve communicating with boutiques and retail outlets, designers, and available hair and makeup artists. Because all of these requirements involve communicating with other people, having solid social skills and being attentive to other people’s needs will benefit one’s own work.
Business skills are necessary once the artist starts finding success. At higher levels, once more investment into an artist and his or her work becomes involved, there will be a need to understand business knowledge. This can be as mundane as understanding how taxes work, as this will be necessary if the artist begins selling his or her work, but it also might involve more robust business knowledge, if a designer wishes to open a specialized boutique. These skills are therefore necessary for an artist to achieve success, as the most successful artists and designers have skills and knowledge beyond individual talents.