Okay, so…pretty frequently I see people wondering why some artists are as popular as they are when they’re “not actually good at art” or whatever. Well, for one thing, that’s an opinion, not an objective fact. But it might also help to consider other factors, such as:
1. Prodigious technical skills, based on a traditional interpretation of the term “skill”. Aesthetically-pleasing, well-made art. Stellar craftsmanship. Et cetera.
This is not strictly necessary, however, if you have one or more of these in addition to even decent technical skills:
2. Niche appeal. A unique style, a favorite character/ship a fraction of the fandom is passionate about, or a skill few other people have acquired (like animation, for instance).
3. Powerful concept. Not just making pretty doodles, but art with a narrative or a wealth of extra details or thought-provoking features.
4. Wow value. I think this really only works in combination with a really good concept, but if you can really power through something huge and impressive that other people wouldn’t generally have the dedication for, they tend to sit up and take notice.
5. Prolific creation. Making a lot of stuff keeps people interested, even if all of it isn’t super-wow-awesome.
6. Being nice to people doesn’t hurt.
This isn’t meant to be a guide to popularity–rather, next time you’re like “why is that person’s art so popular? I think they suck”, you might consider these points and then try not to obsess over it. The artist, after all, is just doing what they enjoy.