I don’t think there is any one way to become a successful artist. It’s slow and awful and forcing your naturally introverted brain into doing things it does not like. including talking to people, convincing strangers that you are good at what you do, and baring large parts of your soul to the general view of the public.
For a few years when people asked me where I was going to school I would make a self deprecating joke about how I am not going to school because I am going to be an artist. This was often met with being looked up and down and an awkward “ohhhh…” from them that made everyone uncomfortable.
Then I realized that I could not approach this like it was anything shameful, so now I proudly state that I am not doing school. I am a photographer and a professional organizer (one of the best jobs to have because no one really knows what that is, am I organizing meetings? am I organizing kitchens? Am I organizing Kink events? Who knows!) This was met with basically the same response only now I don’t really care what people think about it.
Something that was really neat about the success of the NY Show was when people asked where I went to school for photography I could tell them I am self taught and the proof of my worth was hanging right there in front of them in a New York gallery. No change on my part I still don’t really care if people think I can succeed, but I could feel the change in them seeing physical proof of my success despite my lack of formal education.
It can be really hard to keep going especially as a photographer when everyone you talk to has a nephew that does photography. (of course he does) But each time I set a goal and reach it I am reaffirmed that I am on the right path.