Artist: Deb Chaney; Coquitlam, British Columbia
QUESTION: What inspired you to make art?
Deb Chaney: It started when I lost my son. So, I had a baby that died after he was born and I think going into art and starting to make it and sell it really gave me something to focus on that was positive.
Ann Rea: Yes!
Deb Chaney: And so it was really, like, it was life saving in a lot of ways. It really just kept me here in the world and kept me moving forward.
QUESTION: What was your biggest challenge as an artist?
Deb Chaney: Hitting a ceiling of what I’ve accomplished in my career as an artist and knowing that there’s more available to me but not knowing what I don’t know to get there.
QUESTION: What else was your biggest challenge as an artist?
Deb Chaney: How to do sales in a way that was heartfelt and intelligent and create sale systems. I have a lot of studio visitors and I have a lot of connections and I was kinda doing it blindly. I didn’t have the foundation of a why and a mission, and I didn’t know I wanted or needed that.
But what I wanted to do is figure out how am I gonna move forward and keep selling my work but doing it in a way that’s really authentic, coming from my truth. And I was working with another mentor before you who specializes in sales, but it was a crapshoot.
She wasn’t coming at it from the same angle that you were, and so as much as I was learning sales, I was, I guess what you would call sleazy sale’s techniques. And, so I knew it wasn’t authentic for me, but I wanted to move forward. I’m like, whatever it takes. So, in a nutshell, knowing how to do in a savvy way and move forward with my business and make sales, but in very authentic, integral way.
QUESTION: How did you approach selling your art before?
Deb Chaney: Was doing every opportunity I could to get my work out and possibly sell it. And there was no sense of like, this is who I’m headed for or this is who I want to connect with. It was like, whatever is out there, let me just go for it, ’cause I wanna somehow make this work. And you can imagine the time and energy and frustration. You get rejections and you spend a bunch of money and you try this, and you’re just like, I’m gonna do whatever it takes, right? So that’s pre Artists That Thrive.
Then I joined the program and I do course one, and I start to understand about focus. And I do course two and I get really clear about my why. I start to understand what’s underlying behind what I’m doing and I start to realize, wow, I don’t really fit with everyone. There’s a certain game plan. And so this is what is the impetus or the power behind saying no. So when opportunities come, I have a baseline to say, oh, this really aligns with who I am and what my mission is, and that really doesn’t. And then you’re gonna get tested, of course, when you change. And so the first one was, a gallery owner that I’d been in touch with for a while and I have a lot of respect for her and her work, and she invited me to a very exclusive show where I got the opportunity to make a work for a fundraising exhibition. And so my ego was delighted and I was excited to connect with someone I really respected. But it would’ve been a lot of money and time.
You know in this program, we’re asked to keep track of how much we’re making and how much we’re saving. And so on my spreadsheet, I said I’m probably saving about $500.00 by saying no to this opportunity. And it was challenging to say no. I wanted to do it like I used to wanna do everything. But I realized that as a business, this is a really poor business decision for me to make because one, there’s no guarantee my art’s gonna sell. Exposure maybe, maybe not. And it doesn’t mean she’s going to eventually represent me. ‘Cause before I want …
QUESTION: What else have you said “no” to?
Deb Chaney: A program of a new company that’s formed that you’d actually posted with on the Facebook site with regards to 3D printing.
Ann Rea: Mm Hmm.
Deb Chaney: You know the company I’m referring to.
Anne Rea: Mm Hmm.
Deb Chaney: And I really looked at them and I actually read all their fine print and I realized that if I signed with this company to print my art in 3D, they will have all the rights. And, so–
Ann Rea: And they buried that down deep. That should be on the home page, but it’s buried way down deep. So, good for you for reading the terms and conditions carefully.
Deb Chaney: Yeah, so I decided to say no to putting any time or energy into applying for that group. And again, this is a rewiring of how I operate. So part of me is like, oh God, like, I’m not doing that. But, then I’m trusting. I’m going into this new phase where I’m like, I’m clear on who I am and who my market is and who I’m serving and that’s not it.
Ann Rea: Well, let’s circle back to this grab for your intellectual property, which I’m gonna call bullshit on. I think it’s very predatory and I think that it injures artists in ways they don’t yet realize. I could tell you a significant amount of my art sales come from reproductions. And had I just surrendered that for the opportunity to maybe, which is, … I wouldn’t call an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for them. I would’ve lost all that income! It’s ridiculous.
Deb Chaney: Yeah, exactly.
Ann Rea: You have to protect your intellectual property. Your copyright is, either it’s an existing financial asset or it could be one in the future. So, you’ve gotta be so careful with it. And I’m so glad you busted them on this because it’s wrong. It’s really wrong.
Deb Chaney: I love your passion Ann, that’s great.
Ann Rea: Yeah I’m just like … I’m just not having it. I’m not having it. And I will put the link to the company we’re referring to and shame on you. You’ve got this PR campaign running that suggests that, oh look how generous and look how benevolent this company is being to artists. It’s bullshit! You’re ripping them off, and that’s wrong.
QUESTION: Why do artists need to get paid for their art?
Deb Chaney: And for me in particular, so I’m a single mom and I support my daughter being an artist. I’m a full time artist. And I actually do work with a number of other companies that make reproductions of my work and that income comes in and pays my car payment, or it pays my utility bill. It’s really supporting me. So, if I were to sign with one company that has exclusive rights, I would actually lose viable income that I’m living on. So, it’s really, again, it’s really down to the wire for me to make intelligent decisions.
QUESTION: Just say “NO.”
Deb Chaney: What happened after, and this is how we connected on the Facebook page was, I said no to that opportunity, and I was approached and I don’t know, I think there’s an energetic shift that goes on with taking Artists That Thrive–
Ann Rea: Oh, absolutely!
Deb Chaney: It’s the tribe. There’s so much that goes on within us if we really go into the work. And I’d been not necessarily doing anything different on the outside, but opportunity after opportunity keeps coming in and they’re finding me everywhere; Instagram, this, that. So, what happened afterwards was a company approached me. They’re based here in Vancouver, Canada, where I am. And they just said, you know, we’ve been following you for a while on Instagram. We really think your work is a fit. We’re a 3D printing operation. We’d like to give you full cop … Like, you will keep all the rights to your work. We want to give you five reproductions. We want to give you a percentage of all the sales, and we’d like to meet with you and discuss the possibility of collaboration.
QUESTION: Over 85% of art sales can come by way of referrals.
Ann Rea: For you to get the contact information of the collectors who buy that 3D work.
Deb Chaney: Wow, okay I never thought of asking for that.
Ann Rea: Well now, the reason why is because over 85% of our sales come by way of referrals.
Deb Chaney: Yeah.
Ann Rea: And I would just explain that to them. Say, look, I’m a single mom. I am making my living as an artist. And so, when my work sells, those referrals are really important to me. And so–
Deb Chaney: Wow.
Ann Rea: I want to talk to you about how, you know, we’re gonna talk about collaboration. Make sure that that’s part of the conversation about collaboration. I could have just
Deb Chaney: Wow, I’m …
Ann Rea: made you a shit ton of money just then.
Deb Chaney: I am so grateful for that piece of mentorship. My goodness, thank you. I actually wouldn’t have thought of that.
QUESTION: Getting referrals is easy. Just ask.
Deb Chaney: I work with another company and they reproduce my artwork for restaurants and hotels all over North America. And what they do when they give me a P.O., is they actually tell me the hotel or the outfit where my reproduction is going. And they just do that out of generosity ’cause they really care about the artist. So, it’s so exciting to know where the work is going. Um, but I–
Ann Rea: Yeah, so you can go back there and sell them other stuff too.
Deb Chaney: Yeah, it never would’ve occurred to me.
Ann Rea: And really what you could do is send them a personal thank you note to whoever purchased it. Find if you can get the name and say, I want to thank you so much for your hotel becoming one of my collectors, and I wanted to give you my website because if you’d like more pieces, or if you’re interested in these other things, then I just want to make myself available to you. That’ll generate sales.
Deb Chaney: Wow, Ann you are amazing! I honestly didn’t even consider that. And I always send thank you notes to my collectors but most of the collectors that I work with is on an individual basis. This collaboration is new. It never occurred to me to do this.
Ann Rea: There’s somebody in that organization, that hotel, who made the decision. And just say, I’d like their name so I can send them a thank you note.
Deb Chaney: Brilliant. Oh my gosh, yes.
Ann Rea: And who doesn’t like a handwritten thank you note?
Deb Chaney: I usually put in a photo of me and my daughter. Because I just say, without your support, I can’t do what I do.
Ann Rea: Well, good! Do that too. Do that too. Make them cry and watch them buy, Deb.
QUESTION: Should other artists apply?
Deb Chaney: You know, take a really good inventory of where you’re at. And if that’s where you wanna stay in your life, that’s your choice. But, if you’re not happy with the results that you’re getting and where you’re at and you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you don’t know what you don’t know, then be open to something that’s gonna show you and open doors, and teach you things that you didn’t even know you didn’t know. And then you can start creating your dreams. And this is the thing is, usually everything we desire is out of our comfort zone. And it’s usually things we aren’t aware of even yet. And you’re gonna get more than you ever imagined in terms of connections and knowledge and momentum. So, it’s a positive thing. It’s not like I’m asking you to, you know, harm yourself or jump off a cliff. This is a happy opportunity that you have a privilege to partake in while Ann is offering this, for goodness sakes, you know. If we were in person, I would give you a hug and I would say thank you for doing your piece to change the world. This is–
Ann Rea: Thank you.
Deb Chaney: absolutely revolutionary course and program. And that’s coming from my heart. This is really changing the world.
Ann Rea: Aw, thank you.
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