How Did This Artist More Than Double Her Sales, Even Though She's Only 25 Years OId?
25 Year Old Artist More Than Doubles Her Sales
Artist, Laurel Greenfield, Boston, Massachusetts
What were your top two challenges as an artist?
Laurel Greenfield: My top two challenges were not knowing where to start at all and thinking that I needed to start with people I didn’t know as opposed to people I did already have some kind of connection with. So, finding new customers.
What did Laurel learn about selling her art?
Ann Rea: Laurel Greenfield is a graduate of Making Art Make Money program and she wrote recently, “I’m very excited to share that I achieved “one of my SMARTER goals, which y’all know I’m really “big on, this year of exceeding $10,000 in art revenue “by December 31st, 2017. “To date, I’ve made $13,470 from my art this year, “more than double what I made for art in 2016. “I shared my mission with a lot of new collectors “and I learned a lot this year. “Thank you Anne for making the “Making Art Make Money semester. “Without the tools I learned, I would not have “accomplished this goal or have as much clarity “as I do about heading into 2018.” So it sounds like you’ve got more focused.
Laurel Greenfield: Definitely.
How has your focus and self-confidence changed?
Ann Rea: When you enrolled in the Making Art Make Money program, where would you rate your self-confidence on a scale of one to 10, what was it?
Laurel Greenfield: Um, probably six or seven.
Ann Rea: Yeah, and how is it now? That’s actually pretty good, just so you know.
Laurel Greenfield: Yeah, well the personal self confidence was pretty good. It was just being sure of where to go and how to get to people, but I guess now, my level of self confidence, it fluctuates. I think it fluctuates for everyone day to day but I would say probably usually around an eight or nine. Usually a nine.
Ann Rea: Nice. That’s pretty nice. Okay and then you’re, so that’s your self confidence. How about your level of focus? What was your level of focus on a scale of one to 10 when you enrolled?
Laurel Greenfield: Four.
Ann Rea: Four and what is it right now?
Laurel Greenfield: Eight to nine.
Ann Rea: Nice.
How old are you?
Ann Rea: How old are you, Laurel? You’re like 25, 26?
Laurel Greenfield: Yeah, just about to be 26.
Ann Rea: Can I just tell you how I wish I would’ve had this instruction when I was your age? My whole life would’ve been different.
Laurel Greenfield: I am very grateful to have it now.
What’s in the way of many artists?
Laurel Greenfield: I have my Making my Art Make Money study partners and there’s a certain way of thinking and just even looking at the world that we’ve learned and it’s mostly based on positivity and non competition and there are some local artists, I’m a part of a group of local female artists and they’re great too. Lots of positivity but the people I’ve met in other places, the things that are in their way are kind of bonding about the negative parts of being an artist, bonding about how hard it is or how much competition there is or kind of being sad that they didn’t sell as much and now, at this point, I feel like I don’t have time for that. I don’t want to breed that and I never really did but I didn’t have another group to focus on the positive parts ’cause you can focus on the positive alone but it doesn’t feel as real until you have a community like we have.
Does having a SMARTER goal help you?
Laurel Greenfield: Definitely, definitely even last January when I set out that SMARTER goal of $10,000, I didn’t really know how I was going to be able to do it. It was really intimidating but even just writing it down and having the focus and having something to work towards made it more real and more tangible and I was able to do it without even realizing that I was doing it if that makes sense.
Ann Rea: Yep.
What can artists do if they feel stuck?
Laurel Greenfield: Whenever I get stuck in a negative spiral, I start to just focus on things that I already have accomplished. It’s almost like how you say to state the smarter goal in the present tense as if you’ve already done it. I try to do that and I would recommend to people to do that about things you’ve already done ’cause then it kind of reminds you, okay, I did X-Y-Z and maybe a year ago, I could never have even imagined doing that and if I can do that, maybe I can do other things.
Did you have a gratitude practice before?
Laurel Greenfield: I did it before but not often enough ’cause it almost, when you’re in the negative cycle, it feels self indulgent. I shouldn’t focus on that, I should focus on all the things I need to do. I can’t just sit in what I’ve already done but it’s just as important.
Did you suffer from perfectionism?
Laurel Greenfield: Yes, I still do, definitely. I think that’s okay. I’ve tried to harness the positive parts about maybe it’s not about being perfect, it’s just about being better.
Ann Rea: Making progress.
Laurel Greenfield: Progress not perfection, like you say, but yeah, every day and I don’t think it’s ever gonna go away but I’ve learned to appreciate it.
Ann Rea: How do you manage it? So how do you manage, so how do you manage perfectionists? What are the tools that, what are the practical tools? Perfectionism is not productive, it’s really not.
Laurel Greenfield: Usually it manifests for me in feeling like not only do I need to do things perfect but I have this huge list of things I wanna do right now and I start thinking about it and what I’ve started to do this year actually is write down the goals, write down how to achieve them and assign one per week and I have one thing to focus on this week and I will focus on it and if I finish it, I can move onto the next thing but just trying to do one piece at a time definitely helps to slow down the perfectionism, need to do everything right now.
What advice would you have given yourself?
Laurel Greenfield: Start small. You don’t need to start huge. I wouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else, which is really hard. I know that we all do it. I do it almost every day and I have to remind myself to stop but don’t do that, don’t compare yourself and then, just trust that you don’t need to have control over every step and that’s something really big that I learned this year is kind of what you were saying before is this goes along with perfectionism and the need to control everything. So if I can figure out all the steps, I’ll meet this goal in this way but there are always different opportunities and things that come into your life and people that come into your life that help you to get where you wanna go. So I would just say to leave some open spaces in your plan for the unexpected things.
How do you feel about selling your art?
Laurel Greenfield: I feel great. I feel great, it’s the art that I’ve always been making. It’s the same art that I’ve been doing, same subject matter.
It’s just now I’ve learned how to talk to people about it in a way that makes sense to them, in a way that people can connect with. It gets them excited, so now it feels really good.
Did you have to change your art?
Laurel Greenfield: No, not at all. It took me, I was a little bit afraid that that was going to happen and as I worked through the course number two, working through all the different joy and pain points, I was getting confused but once I got it, I realized that it’s the same thing I’ve always been doing. My subject matter is pretty niche.
Ann Rea: Yeah, it is.
Laurel Greenfield: Finally, it’s all food related. But it’s serving my mission, it’s what I do. It’s why I started painting just for myself. I realized that you always say it’s a problem that you have to have solved for yourself and when I paint, it’s for me to get reconnected to the people and the memories that mean the most to me. So then, it’s easy to explain that and connect with that with someone else.
How do you feel when your art is criticized?
Ann Rea: When you know your why, you’re kind of invincible.
Laurel Greenfield: It’s true.
Ann Rea: I mean, now that you know your why and now that you know you serve a mission, do you care what our critics think?
Laurel Greenfield: That has left my mind entirely. It doesn’t matter.
Ann Rea: Right, it doesn’t matter.
Laurel Greenfield: And people have said some crazy things to me at art markets over the holidays. People were, someone said they were looking at my work and they were like, “Oh I like your style but, “I’m looking for something else. “You should do something else, subject-wise.” I was like, “Okay thanks. “I’m happy to point you in the direction of “another artist who does what you want.”
Ann Rea: Right, yeah!
Laurel Greenfield: That’s all I have.
Ann Rea: I mean, the thing about the four part code is it creates this teflon coating against criticism. Like it just rolls off your back, doesn’t it?
Laurel Greenfield: Yeah or if it starts to stick, it’s like nope, that person’s not my target market. They don’t, it doesn’t matter.
Should other artists apply to enroll?
Laurel Greenfield: They should apply and they should not make comments in Facebook ads because you’re wrong. I would say if you had the attitude that you’re gonna do that, this probably isn’t for you. But this is real. You’re a real person. I’m a real person. We’re talking right now. I’ve seen a lot of really great results from the things I’ve learned and it’s nothing super crazy or out there and no one’s gonna ask you to do anything that’s unbelievably crazy or impossible or difficult. These are real steps that you can take and you can practice and then, you can be happy and make art.
Ann Rea: Yeah and sell it!
Laurel Greenfield: And sell it!
Ann Rea, Fine Artist & Mentor
Ann Rea is a San Francisco-based fine artist. She created Making Art Making Money®, the leading and most reputable business program for fine artists since 2005. Rea’s art and business savvy have been featured on ABC, HGTV, Creative Live, The Good Life Project, in the book Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields, the San Francisco Chronicle, Art Business News, Fortune, and Inc. Magazines. Rea’s artistic talent was commended by her mentor, art icon Wayne Thiebaud.