Fine artist exceeds art sales goal by $1,700 and 3 weeks early

Fine artist exceeds art sales goal by $1,700 and 3 weeks early


Artist Melissa Thrasher
Santa Monica, California

Ann Rea: (00:01)
Good! Okay. We’re live, everyone. My name is Ann Rea. I am a fine artist and a mentor to a bunch of artists. And I’m here live in San Francisco, California. And this is Melissa. And where is Melissa sitting on the planet?

Melissa Thrasher: (00:14)
I’m in Santa Monica, California.

Ann Rea: (00:16)
Alright, then. Okay. Kind of neighbors. Alright. Well, I read one of your Facebook posts and I thought, I want to talk to her. I want other people to hear what she has to say. Do you mind if I read it? 

Melissa Thrasher: (00:29)
Yes, go for it.

Ann Rea: (00:30)
Okay. So this is why I asked Melissa to come and chat. So in our private Facebook group, she said, “Big win to report. I just sold a $3,200 painting for my Prototype Project.” Melissa sold her homework, everybody. Okay? That’s all that was. That was homework. Okay. And she said, “I’ve now exceeded my SMARTER goal by $1,700 and achieved it three weeks before the deadline.” So all my students actually define an achievable sales goal. And Melissa just blew past it. And then she said, “The confidence I’ve built in the last year has been life-changing. Thank you Ann Rea for sharing your knowledge, journey, and advice, and for all of my study partners, for your support, because you can’t do this stuff alone.” You guys, you got to have like-minded friends who aren’t jealous of you, but who actually wants to see you win. So first of all, congratulations! I think that’s wonderful. I love it! I love when my students succeed. I love when my students just increase their confidence. But let’s go back in time, Melissa. Before you joined the program, what were your top two challenges? 

Melissa Thrasher: (01:56)
Well, I think I was, I felt kind of lost really, in terms of being an artist and trying to, you know, figure out what it meant to be in business as an artist. I think that was the biggest challenge. And I think, honestly, confidence was the other biggest one. You know, when I look back, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to articulate that back then. I’m not sure I was, you know, that aware. But I think that through this process, you know, that’s helped me realize like the change that I’ve undergone has helped me realize that. Yes.

Ann Rea: (02:18)
Yes. So what do you think now, if you reflect back, what do you think was causing the lack of confidence before you joined Making Art Making Money? 

Melissa Thrasher: (02:38)
Well, I think I really bought into what society says about artists, which is often very negative. 

Ann Rea: (02:45)
Yes, it is. 

Melissa Thrasher: (02:46)
I was very embarrassed to say that I was an artist, even though, you know, I really love it. And I was– I had it in my mind that there was no way I can make any money being an artist. And it’s kind of why I denied that part of myself for a long time. 

Ann Rea: (03:10)

Melissa Thrasher: (03:11)
So, that was a big part of it. And I think I also just didn’t know. I didn’t know enough about business to understand that you really have to talk to people. In order to talk to people you have to like, really embrace what you do, who you are and why you’re here. So–

Ann Rea: (02:40)
Yes, exactly. So, tell me how do you feel about talking to people before and now, how do you feel about it? 

Melissa Thrasher: (03:51)
Well, I was one very embarrassed to talk about being an artist. 

Ann Rea: (03:55)
Yes. That’ll stop a conver– that’ll kill a conversation, right? 

Melissa Thrasher: (03:59)
Exactly. I was also, you know, afraid of sales. Like, I felt like if I’m, you know, I want to put this out in the world, but if I want to sell it, there’s something bad about that. There’s something bad about wanting to sell. And I think I had this approach that, “Well, I’ll put it there, and if they are interested, then they’ll come to me. They’ll tell me.” 

Ann Rea: (04:24)
Oh then sell itself. Yes.

Melissa Thrasher: (04:26)
Sell itself. So– so yes, that’s kind of how it went and why I think– and that contributed to my lack of confidence.

Ann Rea: (04:38)
Yes. Can we see the underlying beliefs that you had before which is “This what I’m doing is embarrassing. Selling is bad. I don’t understand business.” Right? I mean, so is it any wonder that you had a lack of confidence before? 

Melissa Thrasher: (04:55)

Ann Rea: (04:57)
So now how do you feel about talking to people and about selling your art? 

Melissa Thrasher: (05:05)
I feel like I’ve done a complete 180, and it’s just been really amazing. You know, not only do I feel, you know, confident in being an artist, and I’m proud of that, but I also see the value that I’m giving to the world and to the people who buy my art. And I believe that it is worth that exchange of energy, which is money in exchange for a painting. I believe it’s worth that. And, you know, I’ve also learned to like I love the business aspect. I also love talking to people. I love finding out about them, what they like in art, what they’re looking for, what their challenges are, and how I can actually see how my art– it actually does solve some of that for them. 

Ann Rea: (06:04)

Melissa Thrasher: (06:05)
And it’s very valuable to people. 

Ann Rea: (06:06)

Melissa Thrasher: (06:07)
So it’s– and I love the business component. I love, I think that, you know, looking at the numbers and approaching it from that perspective, it just kind of like, I felt like some blinders came off. 

Ann Rea: (06:26)
Yes. I know. 

Melissa Thrasher: (06:30)
And yes, I just, I think, you know, one of the courses you talk about testimonials and getting testimonials from people. And once I incorporated that into my process that also helped build my confidence because people were telling me why they bought and how it makes them feel. And it just– it helped me see like the value that I bring. And it also became a real inflection point of true and deep connection because they were saying things that they feel when they look at the painting that they purchased, that I know I felt when I made it. 

Ann Rea: (07:13)
Oh, how perfect! 

Melissa Thrasher: (07:14)
And we didn’t have that– we didn’t necessarily talk about that directly when they bought it, but to find that out that I’m communicating on a deeper level in a way that I wasn’t really conscious of it before. But now, I’m being aware of it and that’s like, and again, that’s also, you know, increasing my confidence and just the great feeling that I have, you know, in working with people and making art and selling it. 

Ann Rea: (07:42)
Damn, you have made such a turnaround. Was there a particular moment when you were going through the program? And I know you’re not done yet, but was there a particular moment where you realized that your perspective on selling your art shifted? 

Melissa Thrasher: (08:02)
Well, let’s see. I’m going to– I’m actually done with the program in a couple of days, so it would be one year. 

Ann Rea: (08:09)

Melissa Thrasher: (08:02)
 But, you know, it took me a couple of times. Like I went through the courses a couple times not just once. 

Ann Rea: (08:17)
Which is good. 

Melissa Thrasher: (08:19)
Yes. And I needed that because obviously with that old belief system like 

Ann Rea: (08:25)
Yes. it does. Yes. 

Melissa Thrasher: (08:28)
And I think, you know, it was honestly, it just happened in the last couple months. It was very recent, you know. 

Ann Rea: (08:40)

Melissa Thrasher: (08:41)

Ann Rea: (08:41)
Like month eight or nine, or no, it should be like month ten. Nine 

Melissa Thrasher: (08:46)
Nine or month 10.  

Ann Rea: (08:48)
Yes. Yes. It’s a process. It’s not like we can flip a switch and solve everything. It’s a process but damn, what a turnaround. So let me ask you this question.  I’m going to ask you to fill in the blank. I almost didn’t enroll because dot, dot, dot.  

Melissa Thrasher: (09:09)
I almost didn’t enroll because I wasn’t sure, you know, about, you know, ’cause I’ve worked in marketing. I’ve been part of other business coaching programs. So I was like, “Well, I don’t know if this is going to be that different–

Ann Rea: (09:29)

Melissa Thrasher: (09:29)
–from other programs.

Ann Rea: (09:31)

Melissa Thrasher: (09:32)
But I’m honestly so glad that I did it, Ann. i’ve really like I think there’s something like, it’s just a really great balance of education, but also, you know, putting me in a situation where I need to take responsibility for my business. 

Ann Rea: (09:54)
That’s correct.

Melissa Thrasher: (09:55)
And for what I want in my life.

Ann Rea: (09:56)

Melissa Thrasher: (09:56)
You know, and I have to do the work and some of the answers I need to figure out on my own.

Ann Rea: (10:01)
That’s right. You Know, because It is your business. 

Melissa Thrasher: (10:04)

Ann Rea: (10:05)
And it is your art. And so the answers are unique to you. 

Melissa Thrasher: (10:09)

Ann Rea: (10:10)

Melissa Thrasher: (10:11)

Ann Rea: (10:11)
So if you could like, alright, so artists are going to watch this and they’re going to think, “Huh?” What’s one piece of advice you would give them,  or you would give the younger version of yourself? What’s one thing you think that artists need to know about success and about building a business? What is that? It was a lot,  but if there is what comes to mind? 

Melissa Thrasher: (10:39)
Just don’t give up. 

Ann Rea: (10:44)

Melissa Thrasher: (10:45)

Ann Rea: (10:46)
Don’t give up unless it’s not working what you’re doing. Give up on that! 

Melissa Thrasher: (10:54)
Well, I think you do need to seek out assistance, you know, like, I didn’t know anything about business. I definitely didn’t know about anything about art business. And it is different. It’s not the same as other businesses. Right. 

Ann Rea: (11:08)

Melissa Thrasher: (11:08)
And there’s something to be said for studying in a program that, you know, is all about the business of art so that you’re not reliant on galleries or, you know, these old models that just don’t really work anymore. 

Ann Rea: (11:28)
And never have. I mean, for a rare few who win the rigged lottery run by the art establishment, but I mean, it’s like literally playing the lottery hoping that you’ll be able to retire by buying lottery tickets. It’s nuts. 

Melissa Thrasher: (11:43)

Ann Rea: (11:44)
The Odds are so dismal. It doesn’t matter what your talent is, it’s just, just odd  It doesn’t matter what your talent is, it’s just, just odds. Period. 

Melissa Thrasher: (11:50)
Yes. And I think in doing a lot of the exercises throughout the program, it made me realize, like in reaching out to people, talking to people, sharing my art, and the prototype project, it made me realize that really people by art, because it speaks to them. 

Ann Rea: (12:09)

Melissa Thrasher: (12:10)
Not just in the gallery.

Ann Rea: (12:11)

Melissa Thrasher: (12:12)
Or someone else said it’s good, you know?

Ann Rea: (12:15)

Melissa Thrasher: (12:12)
Or someone else said it’s good, you know? 

Ann Rea: (12:15)

Melissa Thrasher: (12:12)

Ann Rea: (12:15)
Right. Yes. So, you know, art is in the eye of the beholder. We’re not selling goods, we’re not selling services. Our product is emotion. And you feel what you feel, and no art critic can convince you to feel differently. You feel what you feel. And so that’s why I might look at a dress and think, “Oh my gosh, I look like a million bucks.” And someone else would look at that dress and think, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.” Right? Who’s right and who’s wrong? What a silly time-wasting debate! Who cares? Right? 

Melissa Thrasher: (12:46)

Ann Rea: (12:47)
But this is what the gatekeepers do to you, artists, to keep you disempowered. And so if you need, if you’re like begging for approval from a group of people who don’t give a s**t about you, you’re always going to be miserable, and you’re just going to swim in time and money scarcity. And you have to take the reins. You have to take your power back, And you have to take responsibility, as Melissa said. That’s where, you know, and the great news is, people are still buying art, everybody. And they always will, everybody.  So let me ask you one last question, Melissa. Someone was sitting on the fence and like, “Oh, I’m not sure about applying. I don’t know,” what would you honestly say to them?

Melissa Thrasher: (13:33)
I would say, “Do it because what you’re going to learn in this program is fundamental business understanding strategies specifically for an artist. And it’s something that you’ll take with you for the rest of your career, if not the rest of your life.”

Ann Rea: (13:51)

Melissa Thrasher: (13:52)

Ann Rea: (13:53)
Well, Melissa said it, not me.

Melissa Thrasher: (13:52)
Well, because, you know, marketing strategies change. Digital marketing strategies change.  

Ann Rea: (14:02)
Sure. Definitely. 

Melissa Thrasher: (14:04)
But, what you learn in this class, that’s– it’s universal. I just think it is. 

Ann Rea: (14:09)
Yes. This is

Melissa Thrasher: (14:11)
It’ll never go out of style.

Ann Rea: (14:11)
Yes. This is what we teach. The strategies in the Making Art Making Money® School of Business are time-tested. It’s the most basic, the most effective by far. And they’re free. They don’t cost anything to implement. It cost you nothing unless you want to spend some money. You can, but you don’t have to. So, I’m so proud of you. I’m so glad you hit your goal. You exceeded your goal by selling your homework. 

Melissa Thrasher: (14:44)
Yes. Thank you, Ann. I’m just so grateful to have been to, you know, have done the program and been part of it and learned so much. I learned so much. 

Ann Rea: (14:52)
I’m so glad to hear that. That makes me happy and makes me want to keep going. So thank you for saying that because sometimes I think, “Oh my God, I’m so pooped.” But then I get to talk to one of my students, like Melissa, and I see the transformation and that’s all worth it then. So go! Go make some more art. Go make some more money. And thank you very much for taking valuable time out of your day to share your experience and to give some advice to other artists who are curious about how this– what is this Making Art Making Money® School of Business. Alright then. Thank you.

Melissa Thrasher: (15:28)
Thank you.

Ann Rea: (15:29)

Melissa Thrasher: (15:30)

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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