"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol
An Artist Mentor
I prayed for an artist mentor. I didn’t know anyone who knew any more than me about selling art.
Artist Anne Spoon speaks with her artist mentor, Ann Rea.
- And not be self-conscious.
- Yeah, sure, okay.
- I just want you to tell the truth, and I just wanna also make sure that I have your permission to use this for promotional or educational purposes or whatever purposes.
- You do.
- Okay. Wanna make sure. Alright, so this is Rebel.
- [Ann] Hi,Rebel.
- You've probably seen her before.
- Yes, I have.
- So, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna ask you a question, and then, just repeat the question back and then your answer, so if I say, for example, I say, Ann, what is your favorite ice cream? You would say, my favorite ice cream is, and then you would answer.
- That makes sense?
- [Ann] Okay.
- So, my first question for you is, before you enrolled in the Making Art, Making Money semester, obviously you were having some challenges with selling your art, so--
- [Ann] Right.
- What was your number-one challenge when it came to selling your art?
- Okay, my number-one challenge when it came to selling my work was finding an outlet for my work. I had gone the gallery route, and whenever, four of my galleries shut their doors, then I was faced with having to sell my work myself, and I did pretty good in a small town, but that I believe my market is saturated. I had my clients and they owned several pieces of my work, and then, after that, I didn't know how to expand that market. So, that was probably my top challenge.
- Okay, so that's common. So, what was your number-two challenge?
- My number-two challenge was whenever I stopped selling the work I was doing, I was kinda floundering because I didn't know what to do, and I thought, maybe if I started painting differently, in a different style, then maybe I could. So I tried being an abstract painter. I tried making jewelry. I tried a lot of different things, and all the while, I was just searching for something that I didn't know what I was searching for. I was searching for an in, a new way to do things, but I didn't know. I had no mentor, and, I have to say, I prayed for a mentor. I prayed, because nobody I knew knew any more about this than I did. I have one or two friends who are really successful in the gallery business, but when I started selling after those galleries closed, on my own, and started making 100% of the money, I had to say, I said I would never go back to that again. So then, where are ya? You're stuck. And so, I prayed for a mentor, I did. I prayed for somebody who knew more than me, how to carry on, because I've been doing this for 30 years, and I've had some good successes, but the past couple years, I've been just floundering, really.
- When you were trying these different styles and different mediums, hoping that one of those approaches would work, was your heart in it?
-My heart was in it when I first start it, when I first dove off into abstract. It was cool, it was a departure, it was fun, but then, when it came right down to it, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't enjoy it. Because it's not what I did, and I wasn't good at it, and so, I learned a little bit, and then I moved on to the next thing.
- It probably wasn't a bad experiment, but--
- It wasn't.
- Yeah, I do think it's always good to try, I think it's always good, but now, I hope you know that it's gotta align with your heart, your soul, and your values for it to really work.
- Yeah, exactly.
- So, my next question is, what's the biggest thing you've learned from the semester so far?
- Well, okay, I've learned so much, so it's hard to pick out just one thing, but I think if I had to say, it would be that, while trying to build a cohesive body of work, was the wrong way to approach selling my art, and I've learned this, that I had to figure out my why, my why in life, Which was huge, because I'll tell ya, 50 years old, I thought, well, I know myself. I know there's not much more to learn about myself. Boy, how wrong was I! And so, once I took this journey and I discovered my why, I've been very close to it, but I didn't realize, and when I sold paintings, I always knew that those people bought paintings because they had an emotional connection to it. They did, but I didn't connect the dots until now. That is the key. That's the key to selling art, is to make that emotional connection with people, and so, it was huge! It was just absolutely huge. And I'd say I went through the 28 days and I came up with my why, and I was like, okay, I couldn't wait to find out what my why was. I couldn't wait to find out something about myself that I didn't realize, and then I came up with it, and then a few days later, I had this meltdown about something, and then that why went right out the window and my true why, and I don't know why that hap I completely missed the most painful moment in my life. I had to list three of them, and I listed three of them. I didn't even list the biggest in my life, because it wasn't an immediately devastating thing that happened, it was more like a slow burn, and so I didn't write it down, and it was, my father passed away when I was seven years old, and that didn't make my top three, because at seven, there wasn't this crushing devastation, because I didn't understand what it meant, forever, to be gone, and so, it was just something that affected my life every day, for the rest of my life, in various ways. He wasn't there for prom. He wasn't there at my wedding. You know what I mean? And so, it was a slower burn over a longer periods of time, and so, once I realized that, I immediately came up with my why.
- So, you saw how it's a process, and the time it takes, and that's why I don't boot people out. I let you stay as long as you need to to get what you need.
- Right, right, so, anyway--
- That's fantastic, and I'm glad you were patient with the process and you allowed it to unfold, because, how do you feel after, now that you know your why, how's that make you feel?
- It actually, it makes me feel free. Now I know, and now I feel free to move on, and start this. I've started the journey, but now I get to really start the journey. I get to start creating art for people, with a purpose, and that feels wonderful. That feels wonderful.
- So, my next question is, would you recommend a semester to a friend or another artist, and if so, why would you recommend it? You want to say the question, and then give me the answer.
- Why would I recommend a semester to another artist or a friend? Because we, as artists, we all who've joined this semester, we all have the same problems. We're all searching for the same answers, and I talk to my friends all the time, and, like I said, our problems are the same, and I believe this course is a solution to many of those problems, and I'm not only learning about the business of art, I'm learning more about myself, and that right there is huge, and the practices, with the visualizing and the journal. The journaling, oh, my goodness! That has been tremendous! I had no idea I had these ideas. So I would just start writing, and I was like, hey, that's a good idea, I would never have thought of that just sitting around drinking coffee. One idea leads to the next leads to the next, because once you put it on paper, then it's there and it's concrete, and your mind is free to move on to the next idea. So, yeah, I would say, definitely, I would love everybody I know to take this course. I really would. It's fantastic. And, I have to say, the whole visualization thing, I've got my board, I do my visualizing, and here's an added bonus: I've lost eight pounds since I've been visualizing eating fit and thin.
- Okay! Now that is something I wish I could sell. Not only can you about art, but, wait--
- You'd be a millionaire if you could share that, yes! I have; I've been visualizing and for some reason, I'm like, not as hungry, and I got on the scale the other day, I was like, oh, my gosh, I've lost eight pounds. That's pretty cool.
- That's awesome! Well, you know, the reason why we go into learning about yourself, because your art is personal. It's very personal. It's not like, we're not selling widgets here, we're not selling, we're selling things that are coming from our hearts, so we have to go there.
- Right, and it's emotional and it's painful when whenever you're rejected. It's so painful. We take it personally. It's hard not to do.
- But your mission will give you a Teflon coating against that rejection, because you'll realize, it's just, this person is not my target market. It's not a big deal.
- Uh-Huh, right.
- Alright, so you'd recommend a semester because you can lose weight.
- Yes, ma'am.
- What's the one thing that you gained in the, I'm gonna repeat the question. What's the one thing that you gained in this semester that surprised you?
- What's the one thing I gained in this semester that--
- You didn't expect.
- surprised me? I didn't expect to lose weight. I didn't, you know, I had been, I go to the studio every day, religiously, because I have to, because there was always this sense of I've got to make it, I've gotta make it. If I don't put in the work, I'm not gonna make it. I had a friend tell me one time, about two years ago, the time is now! If you don't do it now, you're never gonna succeed. And that put panic in me, and so I go to the studio every day and paint, and I have not missed but a few days in the studio in two years, because of this sense of urgency. Well, I have gone to the studio now and I've been cleaning it out and I'm happy to just be there, because there's a sense of calm that's come over me where this frantic sense of, I've got to paint something good to make it, isn't there. There's a sense of calm. There's a sense that it's a process, and you can go to the studio and just be. Do your journaling, do your visualizing, do some meditation, and I'm fine with that, because I know that I'm on a tear that's leading someplace. Before, I was on a tear that was going around in circles, with no clear destination, and so, I was frantic, and so that, to me, is surprising. I used to get really upset and nervous whenever I didn't go to the studio and work, and so now, I'm able to not, and I'm okay with it.
- So you got the painting side down. You got that side down. You've got the making art side down. Now it's time to go to the other side of the coin, and learn the entrepreneurial side, right? This is where you gotta go now, and--
- No, because I had nobody to show me.
- I know; hey, neither did I. That's why I do this, because it's a frickin' tough road, man, it's, I
- Well, God bless you, Ann Rae.
- Thank you. It was hard, it was really hard, and I had no one to fall back on, and freakin' high rent here in San Francisco.
- I imagine.
- And I started getting press, and artists started coming at me from out of the freakin' woodwork, like, tell me what you did, tell me what you did, so I've taken a lot of time away from my own work. I've got a big commission right now, but I've taken a lot of time away from my own fine-art brand to get this off the ground. I had to learn how to do online education. I didn't know how to do that. But the thing is, you got the determination, that's the first, most important thing.
- You're gonna get through the semester, and then you're not gonna be done learning, and you gotta stay engaged, because, after this, you're gonna have to rebuild your online presence, and so that you can extend your market outside of your small town. You're gonna need to learn about online marketing, and you stick around the Facebook group, and I'll answer your questions. What I'm saying is, you're never gonna be done.
- Well, that's good!
- You're never gonna be done. I mean, right now, I'm enrolled in digital-marketing school, with the best of Silicon Valley. I go to the financial district every Monday and Wednesday night. I'm always in class; I'm always learning.
- You have to always be a student. You do, you have to always be a student, or you'll get left in the dust, especially in this day and age.
- That said, you're gonna earn some money, and then you're not gonna have to do everything. You start earning some money, you can use Upwork, and you can start off-loading stuff, but you won't know what to off-load, and if you're off-loading it to the right person, until you understand the whole picture, so it's gonna take some time, but just stay committed, keep showing up, be consistent, stay engaged, make friends, you don't have to be friends with everybody in this semester. I don't give a damn. Whoever you vibe with is who you but those relationships can be really important, especially when you need a boost or you need to just bounce an idea off of somebody, that's everything.
- I have a question. I am at the point where I'm dealing, and you're saying to ask somebody, ask a potential client, what the challenges are, and, I guess I don't know in what context you're talking about. What are your challenges in life? What are your challenges--
- Yeah, just, you can know-- If you just think about it. If you ask somebody, if you just say, look, this is my damn homework assignment, this crazy lady in San Francisco gave it to me, you can let yourself off the hook that way, and just say, I'm trying to learn more about my, I'm trying to get a deeper understanding of my best customers, the ones I love working with. So, I'd like more of you in my life. And so, I was told by this crazy lady that I should ask you this question, and just tell me, the question is real simple, what do you think your top two challenges are? If you ask someone what their top two challenges are, you're gonna learn so much about them, and what's a very important, and that's why you ask the question, so that you can get a psychographic profile. Most people are focusing on demographic profile, like their age, their income, and their whatever. This gives you the psychographic profile of your best customers, not the ones that are lame or kinda alright, but you want to ask the best ones, 'cause you want more of the best ones, and that's exactly why I ask artists, because I don't want all artists in the Making Art, Making Money semester, I want people like you, Ann, or other people like, that's who I want. So I'm gonna ask you guys deeper questions so that intelligence, to attract more-committed artists, that are That's how you do it.
- Well, that's good.
- Does that make sense? Do you understand?
- Are you unco-- the question, I mean it's kind of a kooky question, but--
- Yeah, I didn't know if you meant, what are their challenges in buying art, or what are the, you know what I'm saying?
- No, because they don't even consider, buying art is not a challenge for anybody, I mean--
- I think if you're a client--
- Like, they don't even know they need it. So, for example, like Kate Bradley, those mothers don't think, oh, I need art, but the way she is approaching, she's not selling portraits, remember, I don't believe in selling art. Selling art is for the birds. She's selling a way for parents to express their unconditional love for their child, and to celebrate those very fleeting moments of childhood through what she does. That's not selling portraits. And, portrait-painters struggle, but Kate doesn't struggle. Kate's just, she's doing real well, and she's so young, just so young, really, so that's why, 'cause remember, what are we selling? We're selling emotion; we're selling emotion. You ask someone what their challenges are, what are they gonna do? They're gonna pour out their emotion. You're gonna get a profile of their emotional state of being, and you're gonna see a pattern. You know, shit, the best customers all seem to have this problem. And that's how you're gonna use the IntelleCharts.
- Just try it and see what you get.
- Okay, I can do that.
- Alright, cool. Well, thanks for being such a bright student, and I'm gonna sign off now, because I've got another appointment. I just want to thank you again for taking time out of your busy day and dealing with all the back and forth to get this set up, and I appreciate it.
- Well, I know. Thank you for your patience. I am apologizing for the lot of us. Thank you for your patience with us, and it's all of the learning curves, you know. This technology, but we're muddling through.
- I know, I know, I get it. I have my own challenges with technology, trust me.
- Alright, you have a great day.
- Thank you, you too.
- Alright, bye.
"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol
WHERE TO START TO SELL YOUR ART
"Learn The 8-Part Road Map that I used to sell $103,246 of my art during my first year as an unknown artist, without feeling like a sell-out"
- Ann Rea, Artist Mentor