Do you know your purpose as a fine artist?

Do you know your purpose as a fine artist?


Artist Derek Bower
Kansas, USA

Ann Rea: (00:01)
And we’re live. Okay, everyone, my name is Ann Rea. I’m from San Francisco, California. I’m an artist and the founder of the Making Art Making Money™ School of Business. And this is one of my students, Derek. Derek, where are you sitting on the planet? 

Derek Bower: (00:15)
I am in the middle of the US, in the state of Kansas. 

Ann Rea: (00:19)
Alright, Dorothy. I always think of Dorothy, who is– that’s from my favorite movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” So that’s not what we’re here to talk about though. So that’s not what we’re here to talk about though. So, Derek, before you joined the program, what were your top two challenges? 

Derek Bower: (00:41)
So the first one that I’ll mention, I hoped that I would be able to get more exposure of my artwork so that I could hopefully find more buyers. 

Ann Rea: (00:55)
Before you joined the program, you thought exposure was what you needed? Okay. And what have you learned about this notion of gaining exposure? 

Derek Bower: (01:08)
It’s not necessarily about getting exposure, it’s about knowing the right kinds of people to show your art, to get in to see your art. 

Ann Rea: (01:20)
Right. It’s about determining your niche, which you’re in the process of doing. 

Derek Bower: (01:25)

Ann Rea: (01:26)
Okay. So that was one challenge. You thought you needed exposure, but you really needed connection with the right people. Okay. 

Derek Bower: (01:35)
Exactly. Yeah. 

Ann Rea: (01:36)
And so what was another big challenge before you joined the program? 

Derek Bower: (01:40)
So, the belief that I needed to create more work so– to help with that exposure. But with more work, you can hopefully get more people to see what you do. And so it was related to that. 

Ann Rea: (01:57)
And what have you learned about having to work harder versus smarter?

Derek Bower: (02:03)
That’s not what it’s about. 

Ann Rea: (02:06)
What is it about? For those who don’t know, what is it about? 

Derek Bower: (02:10)
It’s about knowing the kind of work to create for your niche. 

Ann Rea: (02:16)
Right. And for yourself too. Right? 

Derek Bower: (02:18)
Sure. Sure

Ann Rea: (02:20)
It’s not you– you have to! If you want– if they’re going to love it, you have to love it. 

Derek Bower: (02:23)

Ann Rea: (02:24)
Because you can’t sell it if you don’t love it. 

Derek Bower: (02:26)

Ann Rea: (02:27)
Alright. Cool. Okay, so what–you know, you’re still in the process of the program and you’re still in the process of graduating.  And so– and we’re going to support Derek until he does graduate.  What graduating means in the Making Art Making Money™ School of Business means this, my students are required to earn their tuition investment back through the sale of their art at a minimum. Minimum. That’s like a barely passing grade. And if for some reason that doesn’t happen within the course of the year, we’ll work with you for free until you do, which is why this is available by application only because we can’t help people who are not willing to do the work. And so this was — this graduation was featured in Inc. Magazine. I stand behind it. Derek’s going to graduate. Come hell or high water as long as he does the work and he’s been doing the work. So in doing the work, you’ve learned some things. Would you be– would you share like what have been the two biggest lessons that you’ve gained so far in the program?   

Derek Bower: (03:32)
The biggest thing for me is knowing what my mission is. That has been so foundational to now I have discovered that.

Ann Rea: (03:44)
How has it changed things for you to know your mission? 

Derek Bower: (03:48)
Well, I now know what I’m about. I know my purpose and now I know why I create what I create and how to go about finding my niche and how to find those perspective buyers. 

Ann Rea: (04:07)
So yeah. And isn’t it like, isn’t it life changing to know your mission? 

Derek Bower: (04:11)
It is. 

Ann Rea: (04:12)
And your purpose. Very few people in their whole life will ever know that. And when you know it and you share it with someone else, I mean, it does, it literally brings people to tears a lot of the time. So, congratulations! I’m very proud of you that you do know your mission, and that you are serving it. And the way you serve it is by sharing it and selling your art. Okay? So that’s one big, big lesson you have accomplished so far. What’s another big lesson that is significant for you? 

Derek Bower: (04:50)
It’s that selling art is not about merely selling. It’s about serving others through your mission, of course, and the benefits–how it benefits their life. And as a result, you gain a relationship with those people as a result, which is powerful. 

Ann Rea: (05:16)
Right? And if you work with a representative, ladies and gentlemen, no. No, you’re not going to be talking to any of your collectors. You’re not going to have a relationship with them because your representative is going to keep you away, far away as possible from your own damn collectors. So that’s powerful, right? Can you imagine any business operating if they didn’t know who their customers were? It’s ridiculous, right? It’s ridiculous.  

Derek Bower: (05:47)
I won’t be in the business very long. 

Ann Rea: (05:49)
No, you’d be–yes. Yes, you’d have an expensive hobby, which is what most artists have, an expensive hobby. Even if you’re selling your art, a lot of you have a really expensive hobby. Period. You’re not running it, you’re not running business, but you can learn how to do this. So let me ask you this. Fill in the blank. I almost didn’t enroll because dot dot dot. Fill in the blank. 

Derek Bower: (06:18)
Of the cost.

Ann Rea: (06:19)
The cost. Okay. So let’s take a look at things so far. Do you think you’ve saved money as a result so far. Do you think you’ve saved money as a result of being in the program and time, which is money? 

Derek Bower: (06:30)
Most likely yes.

Ann Rea: (06:32)
Yes. So most of my students save a significant amount of money, just depends on what they’re up to. And then after they’ve done that then they start to see how much more money they can make. So if you could like travel back in time to the Derek who said, “I want to be an artist and I want to be a successful artist who sells my art,” what would you say to that younger version of yourself? 

Derek Bower: (07:02)
Have confidence in your work. What you do, what you create have a goal. Know where you want to go, what you want. 

Ann Rea: (07:13)
Can you give a specific example? Cause I think a lot of people don’t know how to form a goal.

Derek Bower: (07:20)
Well, as a fine artist, you can do what you do, create your artwork and not really have a sense of why you’re creating it, and what’s your intention? Are you just wanting to create it ’cause you like it or are you going to show it? Maybe some people might not even consider that some do or do you want to sell it? And oftentimes when you bring up that word things will tend to shut down. It gets scary for people. 

Ann Rea: (07:52)
Let’s talk about that. So have you experienced that where you kind of shut down, or feel scary when you thought of selling your art? 

Derek Bower: (08:02)

Ann Rea: (08:03)
Before the program, you know? Before.

Derek Bower: (08:05)
I can’t relate to that. I don’t remember when I didn’t want to. I’ve always wanted to do it and be able to do it full time. 

Ann Rea: (08:14)
Okay. Alright. 

Derek Bower: (08:15)
As long as I can remember.

Ann Rea: (18:17)
Alright, cool. Alright. But you’re right though that some– a lot of artists will feel conflicted. They really, really want to sell their art, but then when the rubber meets the road and it is time for them to speak to an affluent collector or time to price their art, they don’t know what to do and they get like really conflicted in their minds and in their bodies. So if someone was sitting there, they weren’t sure about applying to enroll, what would you honestly say to them? 

Derek Bower: (08:52)
One thing that has motivated me is how badly do I want this? 

Ann Rea: (08:58)

Derek Bower: (08:59)
And so I would say that same thing. How badly do you want this? How badly do you want to be successful in selling? Because if you don’t move forward with a goal of actually learning how you’re not going to get anywhere.

Ann Rea: (09:16)
Right? Right. So yes, if you want something like let’s say you want to take a trip to New York City from San Francisco, right? You have to decide when. When do I want to get there? And how am I going to get there? You have to like, you have to formulate a lot of a plan. You have to have a roadmap. And most artists are not operating with a reliable roadmap. They’re operating with a completely flawed roadmap, which is try to get into art galleries, try to get representatives. That is a fool’s errand. Really, really is. So I guess,  is there anything else that you’d like to share about what it’s been like to be in the program and or work with study partners? Because I think a lot of artists have been exposed to a lot of other artists who are jealous or competitive, even mean to one another. We don’t have that in the Making Art Making Money™ program. But let me ask you, what’s your experience been of having various study partners? 

Derek Bower: (10:26)
It has been good. What has benefited me with Study Partners is you’re learning how to speak to other people, about selling art. You’re learning that from when you need to speak with actual prospective buyers.  

Ann Rea: (10:47)

Derek Bower: (10:48)
People who are interested in your art. And because learning how to have authentic conversations does, does come with practice, which is part of what selling art is, which is what the program teaches you and helps you learn and understand. That’s part of it. You have to learn how to connect and engage with people so that you can understand what what will benefit them. And so having study partners allows you to do that or learn how to engage verbally. And study partners are different kinds of people as well. Every person is different from one to another. And so– 

Ann Rea: (11:28)

Derek Bower: (11:29)
That. Exactly. Yes. Yes. 

Ann Rea: (11:31)

Derek Bower: (11:32)
And of course it teaches you how to set up meeting times, and how to be prompt with those how to schedule things, which is all about, well, all things that factor into it. 

Ann Rea: (11:44)
Right. How to manage time, how to manage priorities. Really important if you’re going to run a business, you have to have those skills. And we don’t come with those operating instructions inside of our heads when we’re born. We have to learn those things over time. Is there any other thing that you’d like to share about how this program’s changed things for you? 

Derek Bower: (12:06)
It has changed my perspective and how I look at an art buyer prospect. It’s not just someone who’s going to buy your art. It’s someone that you’re going to connect with and understand what is going to benefit them. How are they going to get some enjoyment out of life and how is your artwork going to do that potentially for them? 

Ann Rea: (12:37)

Derek Bower: (12:38)
Yes. In serving your mission. 

Ann Rea: (12:39)
Right. Great! Well, I hope you all listening to this, have learned something not just from me, but listening to Derek, what he learned and what he’s sharing right now. I’m very proud of you, Derek. You don’t back down. You keep doing the work. And so we’re going to keep doing the work with you. And I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and talk about some of the challenges that you had to overcome. And, you know, I would say as I tell my students this all the time, you know, learning how to build a business is not unrelated to learning how to make art. You know, at first your art kind of sucks, but if you’re relentless and you don’t give up, your art gets better. Well, it’s the same with building a fine art business. At first, it kind of sucks, but if you don’t give up and you have the right support structure around you and you have a proven roadmap to follow, you’re going to get to the Emerald City. It’s going to happen. It’s just the biggest, I’d say the biggest obstacle for most fine artists is they give up. They give up too soon, and they’re like three feet away from gold. So that’s what I see in you, Derek. You’re not giving up. You’re not backing down. And neither am I. Thank you very much everyone for listening. I appreciate it. And thank you again, Derek, for taking the time to chat with us. 

Derek Bower: (14:11)
Thank you.

Ann Rea: (14:12)
Okay, take care. Bye!

Derek Bower: (14:15)

Ann Rea

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. 

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