Fine artist sells five pieces after sharing her mission for the first time


Artist Libby Leyrer
Cazaubon, France

Libby Leyrer: (00:00)

Ann Rea: (00:01)
Okay, everyone., This is Ann Rea coming to you live from San Francisco, California with Libby, who’s one of my students in Making Art Making Money™. Where are you sitting on the planet, Libby?

Libby Leyrer: (00:11)
I am in the middle of the countryside between Bordeaux and Toulouse in southwestern France.

Ann Rea: (00:19)
Nice. It’s so good to hear you.

Libby Leyrer: (00:21)

Ann Rea: (00:21)
So it’s cool. It’s we have students from all over the world in Making Art Making Money™. We’ve touched 23 countries so far, which is amazing to me. So what I would love to know, Libby, is before you joined the program, like what were the top two challenges that you were struggling with?

Libby Leyrer: (00:43)
Well, I had never created a business for my artwork. And I had always sold art since the 80s, and created art for as long as I can remember. But, it was frustrating. I didn’t find the focus and the dedication to make it a business. And the other thing, the other challenge, I have a lot of inventory and it’s, you know, it’s my work. It’s my essence. It’s my vision. It’s the way I see the world and it’s quality work and I would like to find a home for, you know, as much of it as I can.

Ann Rea: (01:49)
So, it’s really key here, of course, is it’s very important to you and it is very meaningful to you. But of course, unless we can provide value to someone else, they’re not going to give us any money.

Libby Leyrer: (02:01)
Of course. Exactly.

Ann Rea: (02:03)
But that’s an important reframe, right? Because as artists we’re very much internal thinking about, you know, what are creative processes and our inspiration without any thought to how others can receive value, then of course, we’re not going to have a business. Right? But I love that you’ve realized that it actually is a business. And what do you think was sort of– what do you think was in your way in terms of understanding that if you sell anything, doesn’t matter what it is, if you sell anything, you’re in business? So what do you think the disconnect was? Because I’m curious about that.

Libby Leyrer: (02:49)
Good question I think probably limiting beliefs were getting in my way. I think I was creating the work for myself.

Ann Rea: (03:06)
But you still do, but just not only for yourself anymore. Right?

Libby Leyrer: (03:10)
Right. And so yes, I’m not sure how to answer that really.

Ann Rea: (03:21)
Well, you don’t have to. I’m just curious if you could see, I think, I mean I think the conversation, it’s never part of the conversation, right? If you’re in an art school and you say “money” I mean, if you say, I mean the academics are communists as in terms of money. I mean I can’t tell you how many art professors have snuck into this program, and they will not tell their academic colleagues for fear of being tarred and feathers.

Ann Rea: (03:57)
Which I, you know, I love that part. You know, that actually makes me very happy. Cause they’re just saying, “Screw you. I want the validation and the reward that comes from selling my art. Damn it!”

Libby Leyrer: (04:11)
Yes. Exactly.

Ann Rea: (04:12)
Right? Because then, you know, is there anything more inspiring and invigorating like valid. There’s nothing. It’s like, “I want to go make more.” You know.

Libby Leyrer: (04:22)

Ann Rea: (04:23)
Alright, so now I know you had a huge win and pretty early on in the program too, I might add. You learned that the difference between writing an artist statement and actually serving a greater mission.

Libby Leyrer: (04:36)
. Yes. Big time. Big time,

Ann Rea: (04:38)

Libby Leyrer: (04:38)

Ann Rea: (04:38)
Okay. So just so that I’m not the only one yapping here, how would you describe the difference between your artist statement that you, I’m sure you had because you have to have them, right?

Libby Leyrer: (04:51)
Many of them.

Libby Leyrer: (04:53)
Even translated into French.

Ann Rea: (04:56)
Oh God! Oh! Hell! Oh hell.

Libby Leyrer: (05:00)
So bad.

Ann Rea: (05:00)
Oh my God. Saint France! Alright. So what’s the difference? How would you describe the difference between having an artist statement and actually serving a greater mission?

Libby Leyrer: (05:15)
It’s just, oh, it’s night and day.

Libby Leyrer: (05:20)
I love that you know, when I uncovered my mission, and thank you very much, Ann for your process.

Ann Rea: (05:27)
You’re welcome. Thank you for following my process, Libby.

Libby Leyrer: (05:31)
It was like, “Well, I’ve been doing this all my life.”

Ann Rea: (05:35)
That’s what I’m trying to say. It’s already in you.

Libby Leyrer: (05:38)
Exactly. So I was, you know, I was like, “Well, duh.” And all these things came to me of how I had served my mission. And not all of them having to do with art, but some, but, but oh my God! It was like, “Well, yes. Of course.”

Ann Rea: (05:57)

Libby Leyrer: (05:57)
I love it.

Ann Rea: (05:58)
Yes. Okay. So you had a gathering of people and you shared your mission and tell us what happened.

Libby Leyrer: (06:05)
Well, it was really fun. I grew up in Seattle, and so I still have a lot of friends and I have family in Seattle. And I go there every year at least once a year. And so I set up an artist reception and I brought 15 pieces of my work, and I showed the work and invited people to come. And I knew some would just come to say hi and that’s fine. And I got 36 people and all in the room, I said, you know, “I want to tell you something. Come, everybody gather!” And I did asked them permission for me to share my mission.

Ann Rea: (06:58)
Good job!

Libby Leyrer: (06:58)
Both my kids took videos of me doing this. It’s great. And then I shared my mission and I got applause.

Ann Rea: (07:11)
Of course you did.

Libby Leyrer: (07:11)
And then many people were saying, “Well, yes.” You know, because I said, and I feel like I’ve been doing my mission for some time now.

Ann Rea: (07:18)

Libby Leyrer: (07:18)
And people were going, “Yes.” And I mean, it was really really heartfelt and sweet. And I felt–

Ann Rea: (07:28)
That it wasn’t pushy or salesy, and you didn’t have to sell yourself or put yourself on there.

Libby Leyrer: (07:34)
I’m over that. I’m not, you know, not going there ever again. Yes. No.

Ann Rea: (07:39)
And then what happened? What happened? You sold?

Libby Leyrer: (07:42)
Well, we had a great party and I sold five pieces.

Ann Rea: (07:46)
Five pieces. Okay, everyone. Five pieces. And this was the first time out the gate really formally sharing your mission. Congratulations! I’m so proud of you. Thank you. And I just wanted to feature this so other people can see. You don’t have to make it so freaking hard. It’s not hard.

Libby Leyrer: (08:07)

Libby Leyrer: (08:07)
Now, the process of uncovering your mission takes at least 28 days inside of the Making Art Making Money™ program. It is a process, and you need support around it.

Libby Leyrer: (08:16)

Ann Rea: (08:16)
But once you have it, you can burn your artist statement forever, and instead just sell your art and keep all the money.

Libby Leyrer: (08:26)
Yes! Yes!

Ann Rea: (08:30)
Did you pay anyone in sales commission, Libby? No!

Libby Leyrer: (08:36)
No way.

Ann Rea: (08:37)
No. And those people who were all 36 people who came to your gathering are sources of referrals.

Libby Leyrer: (08:46)
Yes. And you know what’s funny? After I shared my mission, one of my friends who’s a collector, who I had given an appreciation party for, she said, “Libby, ask for referrals.”

Ann Rea: (09:05)

Libby Leyrer: (09:06)
So I said, “Okay! Wait! I have something more.”

Libby Leyrer: (09:12)
But you know.

Ann Rea: (09:13)
I love it!

Libby Leyrer: (09:14)
It was kind of– it was a party. I have already gotten back to all of the buyers, and I’m going to have some serious time, you know, Re-appreciating them and appreciating them for the first time in that case.

Ann Rea: (09:30)
This is about, hey everybody listening. Real relationships equal revenue. Real, authentic, heartfelt, real.

Libby Leyrer: (09:39)

Ann Rea: (09:39)
It’s not about being pushy. It’s not about being salesy, and it’s sure shit not about selling yourself because you’re not for sale.

Libby Leyrer: (09:46)

Ann Rea: (09:47)
No one’s for sale. No. Unless you’re, you know, you’re for sale. So, I mean, do you like– yes. And as I tell everyone, like everyone, it’s already in you. You just need some help unpacking it, uncovering it, and then you’re free. And it’s amazing. So, alright. Now let me ask you this. If you could travel back in time to the Libby who just decided she wanted to be a fine artist and sell her art. She didn’t want to just make it, she wanted to sell it. What’s one piece of advice you would give her?

Ann Rea: (10:28)
Or let’s say the Libby who was trying to increase her art sales and was like, “How the hell do I do this?” What would you tell her?

Libby Leyrer: (10:36)
Really get centered, and trust your intuition and find people who resonate with your artwork. And well, and then uncover your mission , you know?

Ann Rea: (10:53)

Libby Leyrer: (10:53)

Ann Rea: (10:54)
But you’re not going to know what the hell we’re talking about here. I mean for the love of God, please don’t ever mistake what we are talking about right here. When we refer to a mission, it is not, not a mission statement.

Libby Leyrer: (11:10)

Ann Rea: (11:11)
Okay. Those are also conversation killers. .

Libby Leyrer: (11:15)
Yes. Right. No.

Ann Rea: (11:19)
So you would say find people.

Libby Leyrer: (11:23)
Find, yes, because I did kind of out of the gate, I did sell art right away, which, I mean, I was lucky, and I always went sort of for these alternative spaces with no commissions. So my instincts were good.

Ann Rea: (11:42)
Yes. That’s good.

Libby Leyrer: (11:43)
And I even had a home gallery for a while.

Ann Rea: (11:48)
That’s good.

Libby Leyrer: (11:50)
Which was fun and people would bring friends and they would buy art. I mean I kind of love telling Ann Rea for a minute there.

Ann Rea: (11:59)
So you had, Libby you were employing backstage access.

Libby Leyrer: (12:04)

Ann Rea: (12:04)

Libby Leyrer: (12:05)
And you know what else I did In 2002, I pre-sold 18 pieces.

Ann Rea: (12:16)

Libby Leyrer: (12:16)
And I paid for a trip to Italy and two leather coats.

Ann Rea: (12:19)
Okay. So that’s also something we teach the pre-selling. We teach fine artists how to pre-sell their work. You pre-sell it before you ever make it.

Libby Leyrer: (12:30)

Ann Rea: (12:31)
This is awesome. Now, let me just ask you this real quick. ’cause I want to make sure we stay within time. If someone was sitting there and they were, “I don’t know about applying into this program.” “It’s probably a scam.” You know, what would you actually say to them?

Libby Leyrer: (12:48)
You know, be ready to have your life transformed. It’s not just a program, it’s not just a business program. It’s transformational. I mean, it’s so multidimensional. I mean we have these wonderful study partners. We have you know, feedback almost instantaneous. There’s all of these things to do that, you know, for me it’s like, “Fuck!” Oh, pardon me.

Ann Rea: (13:26)
You can say “Fuck.” I don’t care.

Libby Leyrer: (13:28)
Okay. I mean, I, you know, website, you know, tech stuff. You know, keeping track of stuff, taxes. I think that was part of my shyness of not, you know, making it a business. I was like–

Ann Rea: (13:48)
You felt overwhelmed.

Libby Leyrer: (13:49)
I was overwhelmed.

Ann Rea: (13:50)
Yes. Do you feel less overwhelmed now that you’re in the program?

Libby Leyrer: (13:54)
Yes. I mean, not totally not.

Ann Rea: (13:56)
Well, you’re not done. You haven’t, you’re not even done.

Libby Leyrer: (14:00)
No, and I mean, but I like the challenge. I’m here for the challenge. I would say, you know, to people who are on the fence, “Hey, you know, take a little, you know, time to address your intuition, your inner self. See what feels right. And you know, if you want to really make your art into a business, and really learn to sell and sell with heart and with vision, and, you know, with some juice, this is a wonderful program. I mean, it took me a while to sign up because I wasn’t ready.

Ann Rea: (14:46)
Why weren’t you ready? I’m curious. What was holding you back?

Libby Leyrer: (14:49)
Well, when I first talked with you, it was when I had too many things on the docket.

Ann Rea: (14:59)
Got it.

Libby Leyrer: (14:59)
And I thought, I can’t dedicate enough time for this. And so actually it was correct for me to wait. But, you know.

Ann Rea: (15:12)
Let me ask you something. If you knew what you knew now about the program and how effective it is to help you sell in a way that’s authentic and you know, effectively, would you have reprioritize those things that you had on the docket and maybe gone for this first?

Libby Leyrer: (15:32)
Perhaps, but we’ll never know.

Ann Rea: (15:34)
You’ll never know.

Libby Leyrer: (15:35)
But you know, it could be. No, I mean, it’s an amazing program. And for me, I am always looking for ways to expand my comfort zone. I was born that way.

Ann Rea: (15:51)
Good for you.

Libby Leyrer: (15:51)
I mean, I’ve jumped out of airplanes, . I was in a, you know, in the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro in full costume.

Ann Rea: (15:59)
Nice. Good for you.

Ann Rea: (16:01)
We’re not gonna, we don’t ask any fine artists to jump out of airplanes. By the way, like a lot tan.

Libby Leyrer: (16:09)
I did it six times.

Ann Rea: (16:11)
Oh my God. Oh my God.

Libby Leyrer: (16:13)
Anyway, so, I mean, I’m always looking for ways to find out who I am. And this is a wonderful way to do that. I mean, it’s a beautiful thing that you’ve created, Ann.

Ann Rea: (16:26)
Thank you.

Libby Leyrer: (16:26)
It’s a gorgeous, beautiful, living, breathing, fabulous thing that you’ve created. And you give so much of yourself. I mean we feel it.

Ann Rea: (16:37)
Thank you. I appreciate that. I really do. And I appreciate you because I created this, but it doesn’t really become anything until an artist like you comes along and actually trust the process and you’ve trusted yourself. Right? You trusted your intuition that this was Making Art Making Money™ was a good move. And you trusted the process that I offered. And then, you know, that’s the thing. It’s all about like “Look, if what you’re doing is working, don’t apply.” But if it’s not working and you better look really hard at how much longer you want to keep beating your head up against the wall and you better add up how much it’s costing you. And I’ll tell you, everybody listening right now, listen up. If you are not generating a profit from the sale of your art, you just have an expensive hobby.

Libby Leyrer: (17:36)

Ann Rea: (17:36)
Now, that’s not me trying to insult you. That’s a legal definition. You need to consult with your tax advisor because it’s your taxing authority that calls it a hobby, not me. And if they do that, you lose your income tax deductions. And if you lose your income tax deductions, you are done. You will never be able to make a living as a fine artist. So it is dangerous territory to not be making a profit. Again, I’m not a tax advisor. Go check with your tax advisor. We work with artists in many countries, so all things are different. Go check. It’s a really slippery soap. You don’t want to give up because if you give up on your art, if you’re really an artist, your soul will die.

Libby Leyrer: (18:18)
It’s impossible.

Ann Rea: (18:20)
It’s impossible.

Libby Leyrer: (18:21)

Ann Rea: (18:22)
Yes. Alright. I’m really proud of you. I really am. I’m so happy for you too, that you sold five in one go. And you were clumsy about it, and it worked anyway. This is the thing. Progress not perfection. You can do it. You can kind of do it half ass even. It’ll work. Right?

Ann Rea: (18:42)
And who cares, if it works, it works. I mean, that’s the beautiful thing. You just rinse and repeat. You learn, you rinse and repeat. You do it again. You’re better the next time. It’s kind of like making art. Have you noticed that?

Libby Leyrer: (18:52)

Ann Rea: (18:53)
You know, the first art you make, it kind of sucks.

Libby Leyrer: (18:58)
Oh, you mean those finger paints when we were toddlers?

Ann Rea: (19:01)
Yes. It takes a minute. Everything takes a minute.

Libby Leyrer: (19:05)

Ann Rea: (19:05)
You have to fall on your butt, get back up. Laura just said, she said, “Yes, this is life changing for me.” So it’s another one of my students who’s definitely, I’ve seen her life change. She was–

Libby Leyrer: (19:18)
Oh, yes.

Ann Rea: (19:19)
She’s a different– she’s a different lady now.

Libby Leyrer: (19:22)

Ann Rea: (19:23)
I don’t know if you knew her when she started, but oh my gosh. She struggled.

Libby Leyrer: (19:27)
I didn’t. But she’s brilliant. I mean, and she’s so supportive of all of us, and it’s really lovely.

Ann Rea: (19:34)
You noticed how supportive the community is?

Libby Leyrer: (19:37)
Oh, it’s wonderful.

Ann Rea: (19:39)
Yes. Yes. So thank you for contributing to the community by sharing your story and you know, just the whole journey. And you’re just getting started, Libby. So this is good news.

Libby Leyrer: (19:51)

Ann Rea: (19:52)
Alright. Take care. Thank you again for your valuable time.

Libby Leyrer: (19:55)
Thank you!

Ann Rea: (19:56)
Alright. Bye.

Libby Leyrer: (19:57)

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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