Do’s & Don’t s for the Artist

It’s nearly impossible to predict who will, or won’t be a successful artist, but the following list of do’s and don’t s may help.



ABOVE: David McDonough, Black & White, digital photograph


Attend art openings and support other artists.

Build an online presence (website, blog and social media).

Have an interest in the art world (locally, nationally and internationally).

Be nice.


Take rejection personally.

Ignore feedback, or worse, take offense.

Make excuses for the lack of your success.

Set unrealistic goals.

Set no goals.

Give up.

Q & A

Artpromotivate provides free tips for artists on topics such as promotion, websites and blogging. Last October, I was one of their spotlighted artists.



ABOVE: David McDonough, Darkness, mixed media, 21 x 22.5 x 2 inches

Last October, I was a spotlighted artist on artpromotivate. Here is an excerpt:

What are you trying to convey to viewers through your art?

Truthfully, that really depends on the individual piece, and/or the series in which it was produced.

Virtually everything I create has meaning, and I am glad to explain my reasons. That said, I respect the intelligence of my viewers, and I trust them to draw their own conclusions.

Some works are political; some personal.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere.

Previously, my work was nature-based. Recently, I have become fascinated with the urban landscape.

As for artists, I love all types of art, and I am constantly reading about, and looking at the works of others.

Do you have a day job?

Like many artists, I am forced to take a day job in order to make ends meet. It is also necessary as I use incredibly expensive materials.

I prefer to not do anything overly creative in my day job, so that I can focus all of my creative energies on my artwork.

If you could live your life over again, would there be anything you would do differently?

I don’t think I’d change much, but I may have gone to art school instead of getting a BA in Sociology.

But is it Art?

I don’t believe anyone has the right to pick and choose what is, or isn’t art. If creating fills your life with passion and purpose, then you are an artist, and what you produce, is art.


ABOVE: Carl Andre, Equivalent VIII, 1966, sculpture, 5 x 27 x 90 inches, Tate Modern, Photo: © Tate, London [2014]

But is it art? The question provokes furious and impassioned debate from people of all walks of life.

Several opinions exist, but the following two are among the most popular:

If it questions nothing, and is simply an exercise in aesthetics (which are entirely subjective), then it is not art. It is decoration.

If it is all theory, and there is no finely crafted end product (e.g. – conceptual art made from found objects), then it is not art. It is rubbish.

Quite frankly, I think both arguments are nonsense. Yes, there is a lot of horrible art in both camps, but there is a lot of great art too.

As individuals, we are free to choose what we like or do not, but ultimately, our opinions are simply that: our opinions.

Critics may be well versed in the arts, but they aren’t always right. Conversely, those less educated, aren’t always wrong. It’s about balance, and both sides deserve a spot at the table.

I honestly don’t believe that anyone, regardless of their credentials, has the right to pick and choose what is, or isn’t art.

Simply put, if creating fills your life with passion and purpose, then you are an artist, and what you produce, is art.

Is it good art? That is the question.

The Evolution of an Artist (The Basement Years)

My first bachelor apartment was a total sh*thole…and I loved it. It was big. It was cheap. And, it came with an absentee landlord. The perfect spot for an artist.



My first bachelor apartment was a total shithole…and I loved it.

Not only was it big and insanely cheap, it came with an absentee landlord. If you wanted to play your music really loud at all hours (which I did), or smoke copious amounts of weed (which I also did), you were free to do so.

Another great thing about living in a total shithole, is that you’re not concerned with keeping up appearances. This is especially great if you’re an artist; art can get messy.

Over the next several years, I splashed about completely unfettered, and in the process, made a huge mess of the place. It was a lot of fun.

Even better, it was during this time that I really came into my own as an artist. After struggling for years, I was finally able to control my hands, and bring my visions to fruition.

Due to an ongoing war between another tenant and the landlord, and owing to a rapidly deteriorating building, it was time to seek out more respectable digs.

There is absolutely no comparison between the work I made before entering that apartment, and the work I made while in it. I arrived an amateur, and I emerged a professional artist.

The evolution continues.