"Dilla Time" has a perfectly distilled list of what one needs to develop as an artist:
- the space and time to perfect your craft
- the vision to see yourself as an artist
- the connections to become a paid professional
found in a wonderful little passage about Jit and how the Jitterbugs came to be. But thinking more broadly, this is the stuff that, together, takes you from hobbyist to a full-time artist.
Of the first two – space and time – time is the more expensive one, since it's almost irrecoverable. Also it's so easy to lose or waste (mainly by not showing up, not practicing, or getting sidetracked). However, space is more rigid and is harder to organise. It's harder still to make and guard mental space (loss of which nets you lost time).
The vision is largely left to your imagination, though it helps to have a few early voices who believe in what you do and try to mix encouragement and critique in healthy proportion. Cross your fingers and show your work.
The connections are premium stuff. A big differentiator in terms of privilege. But it takes space, time, vision, and a substantial amount of practice, to exercise connections. But connections also have an efficiency multiplier effect to space, time, and vision.
It's all interconnected, and in these days extremely hard to come by, as a package.