If you don't aspire to be an art celebrity but you still want to be "successful" as an artist then the theory of 1000 true fans might be of interest to you. But first of all let's just talk about success. Success is a weird thing. It varies for each person and can be based on so many different measurements. Is my artwork getting better - showing more of the skill and knowledge that I have acquired? Am I able to support myself financially as an artist? Does that even matter? Am I able to maintain a practice where I can paint on a regular basis? Does success mean that you paint daily, weekly, monthly? Does it mean that you complete many paintings or one? Am I able to share my work in a meaningful way with the world - is the quantity of people I share it with important? Success is personal but many of us would love to live comfortably from sales of our artwork and feel that we are connecting others with that work. This is where the theory of 1000 true fans comes in.
Aiming for prosperity and well-being in your art career is a bit vague and that's what I like about 1000 True Fans. You aim to meet and connect with 1000 people that are defined as true fans. A true fan ( in the context of this theory ) is a person who would spend the average days wages on your product once a year ( on average). If that were an average of $100 /year x 1000 true fans then you are looking at $100,000 yearly income. It's a simple theory - easy to pull apart but a nice way to look at numbers and goals.
"A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans." - http://kk.org/
True fans are your spokespeople. They help grow other lesser fans into true fans. Their excitement about what you do is infectious. It's important to nurture those relationships when and however you can. You can do this via all social media and an art newsletter. You can even mail out postcards or notes. Offer these fans that exclusive opportunity, a special discount or friendly thank-you message.
"Young artists starting out in this digitally mediated world have another path other than stardom, a path made possible by the very technology that creates the long tail. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum hits, bestseller blockbusters, and celebrity status, they can aim for direct connection with 1,000 True Fans. It's a much saner destination to hope for. You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there."
Get out there and connect with your 1000 true fans!