12 Habits of Highly Effective Artists, From Creative Exercise to Living in Airplane Mode

What makes some artists more successful than others? Talent, luck, and hard work certainly play a part, but there are other, subtler habits that many of the greats seem to have in common. We asked 11 artists about their work routines and the way they structure their lives to see how these everyday rituals, big and small, make them tick. Below, see the 12 habits that help these artists create their best work.

Martha Rosler calls it the “third-space effect”—a work environment so controlled that the “world shrinks to a bubble around myself, without the distractions of my daily life or environment or people.” One place she has this feeling is in airports. “I wrote one of my most-cited essays largely at the Atlanta airport way back in 1980 or ’81. I have often found myself able to concentrate in airports, but only if the waiting area isn’t packed, or if I can sit in a place that has tables,” she says.

Of course, flying itself offers even more complete containment. “I have the least distractions on airplanes,” says artist Hank Willis Thomas. Even at home, he says, “Sometimes I mimic this by turning off my phone and internet.”

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