How did one fine artist increase his average sale price over 700% in less than a year?


Artist Ivo Popov
Varna, Bulgaria

Ann Rea: (00:00)
Hey everyone, this is Ann Rea coming to you live from San Francisco, California. My name again is Ann, and this is my student Ivo. Ivo. I screw that up every time. It’s because of the way it’s spelled. I can’t help it. So sorry. Anyway, I’m here because I’m a fine artist. So is Ivo. He’s a student of mine and he’s got some stories that you might be able to benefit from because I’m writing a book for fine artists. And the book is really about all the traps that unfortunately fine artists fall into, and including myself, which is why I can make this list, which is at 43 right now. Maybe, Ivo will add another one. I don’t know, but I’ve asked my student to take a look at the list and share with all of you what was the one that was the worst. So, Ivo, first of all, where are you sitting on the planet, just so people know?

Ivo Popov: (01:03)
So right now, today I am in Varna, a city in Bulgaria, and tomorrow I will have my first, my very first solo exhibition, which by the way, is not in a gallery or anything, but it’s going to be on the street . And it is going to be– I will be presenting to my niche. So I am very glad about that.

Ann Rea: (01:24)
Excellent! Good?

Ivo Popov: (01:26)
Yes. Thank you.

Ann Rea: (01:26)
Yes, you want to be with your audience. They’re not going to a gallery? I’ll bet you your audience is not going to an art gallery.

Ivo Popov: (01:35)
No. So tomorrow there is going to be a retro car rally here in Varna. The last one for this year. So the people I’m presenting are car enthusiasts.

Ann Rea: (01:47)

Ivo Popov: (01:48)
Cause I am a car enthusiast myself. I love cars and my audience loves cars so they love my art. And that’s a great way to connect with them. I’m going directly to them.

Ann Rea: (02:00)
That’s what you do. Exactly. Good. Alright. Following directions. That’s great. Okay, so you looked at that list of 43. Which one popped out as “Okay, this one was the worst.”

Ivo Popov: (02:12)
So I got here a list. Alright. It’s not just one. And by the way, Ann you’re right, I’m going to add one. So it’s going to be 44.

Ann Rea: (02:22)
Okay. Thank you.

Ivo Popov: (02:24)
Yes. Okay. So before we met, I was changing generous to fit what someone might like, you know?

Ann Rea: (02:33)
Okay. Instead of doing what you love.

Ivo Popov: (02:36)
Yes. Well, you know, I’m doing mostly commission works of cars, but some people might say, “Hey, can you draw my girlfriend?” Or something like that. And I wouldn’t refuse because I didn’t have the power to say, “No” first. And second, I needed the money, you know, I was needy to get the sale done. So I would take that.

Ann Rea: (02:59)

Ivo Popov: (03:01)
Yes, I was changing mediums as well. I am really good and I really love polygram pencils. Sometimes watercolor pencils, but that’s like my thing. I really love it.

Ann Rea: (03:14)
Then that’s what you have to go for. So what’s the 44? What was not on the list that happened to you?

Ivo Popov: (03:22)
Oh, okay. So, okay. . So a little bit about myself. I don’t have a contract job for four years, so I’m full-time for four years. And, you know, this has its risk. Sometimes I have a lot of work, sometimes I don’t have anything.

Ann Rea: (03:39)

Ivo Popov: (03:39)
And it eally matters for me to make money.

Ann Rea: (03:43)

Ivo Popov: (03:43)
With my art. And I have to find a way. This is how I learn. Like, I got to find a way to do it. There’s no chance of not making it.

Ann Rea: (03:51)

Ivo Popov: (03:52)
And at one point, I myself, I was trying to be the middle man myself. Do you have this on the list?

Ann Rea: (04:02)
I don’t know what’s– I’m still waiting. What was the 44th thing?

Ivo Popov: (04:07)
So let’s say someone wants a picture of I don’t know, their family.

Ann Rea: (04:13)

Ivo Popov: (04:14)
And I’m not okay drawing people portraits. I suck in this. I don’t like it.

Ann Rea: (04:18)
Okay, so that is on the list. That means that you were switching genres, right? Or subjects.

Ivo Popov: (04:25)
No, listen to me.

Ann Rea: (04:25)
Okay. That’s not it? What was it?

Ivo Popov: (04:28)
It’s not it yet. Okay. So I say there is someone that wants their family done in a specific way that I have never done before.

Ann Rea: (04:37)

Ivo Popov: (04:39)
And, but you know, I see how much money this person is willing to give. So I said, “Yes, I am going to do it for you. I’m going to do the best thing for you.” And then I will go on a freelance page and say, “Hey, can someone do this project for me?”

Ann Rea: (04:58)
Okay. Alright. So you’re being a broker. You were being a broker then.

Ivo Popov: (05:01)
Yes. You can say, so I was an art broker. I had 1.3 artists that were drawing for me. And I thought that I was making a killing. You know?

Ann Rea: (05:11)
Well, did it– I mean, that’s an option if you want to do it, but that’s not really what your core love is.

Ivo Popov: (05:18)
No, no. And you know, I was spending a lot of energy everywhere and I have had to coordinate everyone. I had to, you know, trust my artists and sometimes they will let me down. And that’s like I cannot rely entirely on myself. I have to rely on other people and make sure that the client is satisfied, which obviously didn’t work out. So I just stopped doing this.

Ann Rea: (05:41)
Wow. Okay. Well first of all, congratulations on your entrepreneurial spirit because that’s a good thing. You at least tried it. You know, you tried it, but it doesn’t really– like your energy shifts, your face lights up when you talk about retro cars, that’s where you got to stay, no pun intended, but stay in your lane. You know, stay in your lane. That’s where you’re going to thrive. You’re going to be really good at that. And you’re already being really good at that.

Ivo Popov: (06:11)
Thank you.

Ann Rea: (06:12)
Yes. Yes. And there’s– and it’s a good category because it’s sort of like wine enthusiasts. Like these people are bonkers about this subject. Right? They’re absolutely bonkers. And so they’re, if they’re super passionate about what you are also super passionate about, that’s a really golden opportunity to really make a mark and make some money.

Ivo Popov: (06:37)
And not only that, not only that, it’s just, I like building relationships and finding new people around the world. And that’s like a really good topic and conversation. Like I really want to expand my network and that’s a really good way to do. So like, connecting with those people, you know.

Ann Rea: (06:55)
You know who Jerry Seinfeld is, right? And Jay Leno. Two big comedians. Do you? Have you ever heard of?

Ivo Popov: (07:01)
No. No.

Ann Rea: (07:02)
Okay. Jerry Seinfeld is probably the wealthiest comedian in the United States. Jay Leno also. Those two guys. And Jerry Seinfeld has a whole TV show called “Comedians Driving in Cars, getting Coffee.” This is for real. So you could look it up on Netflix. It’s a real– so it’s like the whole show is about him driving around in a different retro car every single episode with a different comedian. And Jay Leno’s also a huge collector of cars. So super uber wealthy folk like to collect their cars. So you’ve got a great niche. It’s really, I can see it as full of possibilities. You’re just going to, you know, as you build your skills and you’ve, so let’s just go, let’s go there. So before you enrolled in the program, you know, I know you needed to make money, like that was a challenge, right?

Ivo Popov: (08:05)

Ann Rea: (08:05)
But what would you say your top two challenges were before you joined?

Ivo Popov: (08:12)
Oh, okay. I would say lack of confidence, number one. Lack of confidence for sure. And also I think valuing myself.

Ann Rea: (08:26)

Ivo Popov: (08:26)
That would be also a big challenge for me cause I was underselling myself.

Ann Rea: (08:34)
Yes. So this is common, right? And we can’t, it’s really, it’s easy to price your art according to your level of self, perceive self-worth. And that’s a huge mistake. But it happens all of the time. When you say, if I gave you, like, on a subjective scale of one to 10, where do you think your confidence level was at before you joined the program?

Ivo Popov: (09:00)
Probably four.

Ann Rea: (09:02)
Four? Okay. Where is it right now? On a one to 10?

Ivo Popov: (09:08)
I’d say eight.

Ann Rea: (09:09)

Ivo Popov: (09:11)
Yes, I’d say eight.

Ann Rea: (09:12)
You doubled it!

Ivo Popov: (09:13)
. I know there is much more to improve, but I’m going to leave a small space for two because I can’t say I’m the boss, you know, .

Ann Rea: (09:22)
Yes, I got you. I got you. That’s good. That’s really good. Okay, so your challenge was confidence and self-worth. And so let’s talk about self-worth. On a scale of one to 10, subjectively, where would you rate, where would you have rated your level of self-worth before you joined the program?

Ivo Popov: (09:43)
Alright let me say that before I joined the program, I thought , I thought that I was maybe six. . But now when I look back, I’d say one .

Ann Rea: (09:57)
Okay. That’s honest. Alright.

Ivo Popov: (09:59)

Ann Rea: (09:59)
Now, where do you think you’re at?

Ivo Popov: (10:01)
Oh, I’m doing much better.

Ann Rea: (10:03)

Ivo Popov: (10:03)
Okay, I can– let me put it this way. I’m thinking now of progress. I’m thinking progress because I know that the prices that I have now are not going to be forever. They will be increasing for sure.

Ann Rea: (10:19)

Ivo Popov: (10:19)
I cannot say, like, I can’t say I’m on a 6, 7, 8, 9 10, because I can always improve that.

Ann Rea: (10:25)
And you can also increase your How, not just your art, right? But also that How, that value above and beyond your art. That’s where you’re going to get a much larger increase in your prices. So that’s something to focus on. Alright. Now what do you think your top two lessons have been inside of the Making Art Making Money™ program?

Ann Rea: (10:54)
Well, whatever pops in your head is fine.

Ivo Popov: (10:56)
Okay. Maybe value myself better. Like just throw a higher number.

Ann Rea: (11:02)
Yes, yes.

Ivo Popov: (11:04)
Throw a higher number and really believe in myself.

Ann Rea: (11:09)
Why do you think it increased? Because that’s, you know, you said your self-value has increased. Why do you think it increased?

Ivo Popov: (11:22)
Maybe because I am more comfortable saying “no” and refusing to some people and working with other people. This is probably why I think my value is higher now.

Ann Rea: (11:37)
Yes. Saying “no” is saying “yes” to the right thing.

Ivo Popov: (11:42)

Ann Rea: (11:43)
And saying “no” to what you don’t want or you can’t do is saying “yes” to what you want a 100%.

Ivo Popov: (11:52)
I also want to add something that’s changed for me and that is believing because you put a big list of books and Okay. I can’t say I’ve read all of them, but I’ve read most of them. Maybe the “Go-givers” that you gave me to read. This one really made a switch. And I’ve been in situations like where I’ve been really risking not paying rent or something like that, but then putting my mind to it and just giving everything that I have and then it starts coming back to me. And it’s just magic.

Ann Rea: (12:31)
Isn’t it? It’s almost like people think, “Oh, it just sounds so saccharine. It just sounds so hokey.” It actually works.

Ivo Popov: (12:39)
Exactly. And now I’m thinking of next year, even giving more to charity, but, you know, not making art for charity.

Ann Rea: (12:47)

Ivo Popov: (12:48)
Giving from myself, like being more involved in charity because I really believe this is good karma.

Ann Rea: (12:55)
Yes, it is. And it makes you feel good about yourself and you have a different vibration. Okay. So you learned how maybe the Go-Giver book was a key to help in increasing your value and interesting like you gave more of yourself and so you increased your self-perception, right?

Ivo Popov: (13:13)

Ann Rea: (13:13)
And what was another big thing that you learned inside of the program so far? And I know you’re not completely done, but so far.

Ivo Popov: (13:22)
Okay. Let me think. Okay. Right now it doesn’t pop anything to my mind, but I know that my mind will remind something, you know?

Ann Rea: (13:35)
That’s fine. Well, I mean, I think one thing that I can think of is you’ve raised your prices.

Ivo Popov: (13:42)
Oh yes, I did. I did raise my prices big time. Really big time.

Ann Rea: (13:48)
Okay. Do you know, do you have an idea of what percentage?

Ivo Popov: (13:53)
Yes, we can, we can, we can calculate that right now.

Ann Rea: (13:56)
Yes, let’s do it.

Ivo Popov: (13:57)

Ann Rea: (13:58)
What was your average?

Ivo Popov: (14:00)
Let me say that the community inside and the study partners that I had really opened it up for me because, you know, after I got inside I said, “Okay, I got to make this thing work.” So I started reaching out people who I thought would have made it work and they really helped me.

Ann Rea: (14:21)

Ivo Popov: (14:21)
They really helped me.

Ann Rea: (14:22)
Yep. Study partners are huge. You can’t succeed alone in this program or in life.

Ivo Popov: (14:28)
Okay. So let me think of the last one that I’ve sold.

Ann Rea: (14:33)
Do you know what your average sale price of your art was before you joined the program? Just a rough guess.

Ivo Popov: (14:38)
Okay. Rough guess around 300. Okay. So I’m constantly increasing my prices.

Ann Rea: (14:45)

Ivo Popov: (14:46)
But let’s say the point where I got inside the program, it was maybe, the average was $250 USD.

Ann Rea: (14:57)
Okay. And what’s your average price now? Just a guess is fine.

Ivo Popov: (15:00)
Oh. Close to $2,000 for the same size.

Ann Rea: (15:06)
Great! Okay, so I just want to point that out. That’s a 700% increase in your price. Do you think there are any other small businesses out there on the planet that have increased their prices 700% in under a year? I don’t think so. Good luck! Y.

Ivo Popov: (15:24)

Ann Rea: (15:26)
That’s huge. That’s–congratulations! And I know it’s going to go up, but 700%. Damn!

Ivo Popov: (15:36)
Yes, it is. For one year. For one year. And this really helped me. Now I’m renting a studio. Like I got my own studio now, so I’m renting that and I’m renting an apartment and also I’m paying for a Tony Robbins course and the same time using the money that I’ve made from art. You know.

Ann Rea: (16:01)

Ivo Popov: (16:02)
This really helps.

Ann Rea: (16:03)
I would really recommend that you get into, I don’t know how much time you have left, but if you get into the Monday class, because I think if you and I can talk a little bit about your How that’s where you’re going to be able to bump things up.

Ivo Popov: (16:18)
Let’s do it.

Ann Rea: (16:19)
That’s–I mean that’s an important piece that a lot of people like you’ve got to have all four parts of the code.

Ivo Popov: (16:26)

Ann Rea: (16:26)
You’ve got to have it and you can play with it. You know, your Why and your What are going to stay the same pretty much. They may evolve, but your How, you can experiment with and your Who may shift around. But that’s the next step. So I know, because I’ve been doing this for so long, the reason why you feel so much better about yourself is yes, it is “Go-givers” but it’s also because you know your mission and your mission is also aligned with Go-givers. Because your mission is not about, you know, it’s not about your art, it’s about other people. It’s how you’re going to be of service to other people. And that’s, what does that sound like Go-givers, right? So this is really important that you’ve made this progress. I ask everybody I talked to. If someone was out there sitting on the fence, they weren’t sure about applying to enroll in this program, what would you honestly say to them?

Ivo Popov: (17:23)
If they’re on the fence right now?

Ann Rea: (17:24)

Ivo Popov: (17:25)
Okay. If they’re on the fence, I’d say, okay, listen to this. It’s expensive. Okay, but you’re going to be broke either way. .

Ann Rea: (17:38)
Well, what’s more, hold on. What’s more expensive? Selling your art in $250 or increase your price to 700%?

Ivo Popov: (17:46)
Maybe I didn’t, maybe I didn’t. Okay. Maybe this didn’t sound right. But what I’m saying in the beginning–

Ann Rea: (17:52)
Not, you’re right, it’s not the cheapest. This is not the cheapest.

Ivo Popov: (17:57)
No, of course. But if you’re not going to give those money anyway, you’re not going to make those money. You’re not going to– there won’t be a chance that you’re going to get so good. Like this is a like jet pack you put and you fly and you need this. If you are on the fence and you’re thinking about it. I was on the fence too, really. I was on the fence and there was a friend that talked me in. But like in the beginning when I got, I was a bit skeptical, how is this going to work? How is this going to happen? But I put in the work, and so it works for me. You know, if you are such a person that is not complaining and takes everything in his own hands and is responsible for his decisions, then go for it. Because here you’re going to find what you are looking for and also for stuff that you don’t know that you need.

Ann Rea: (18:48)
Right. Yes, good point. I like what you said about someone who’s going to take responsibility. Because no one’s coming to save you. You’re not going to be discovered. You are alone are responsible for your success. I can guide you, your study partners, if you’re accepted, can support you a 100%. But no one can sell your art. Just like no one can make your art .

Ivo Popov: (19:15)

Ann Rea: (19:17)
I mean, you can pretend, but it’s not going to happen. Not in a million years is it going to happen. You know? So it’s kind of like, you know, I call it the “Tyranny of Hope.” You don’t want to live under the tyranny of hope. You want to just get it done. So, alright. So I’m hoping you’ll show up on Monday and we can talk about your How. Because I want to brainstorm a little bit with you about that. I also just want to show people how you kind of come up with a How and you experiment with it. But this has been great. So everybody, becoming an art broker is not a good idea.

Ivo Popov: (19:58)
Yes. When not experienced and don’t know, like, “Okay,”

Ann Rea: (20:02)
no, it’s not a good idea. Although, you know, finding your niche, finding or understanding your mission, going to where your niche is is because they’re not coming to an art gallery. Car enthusiasts are not coming to an art gallery, everybody.

Ivo Popov: (20:21)
No, no, no. And you know, maybe the most important lesson that I’ve learned is understanding art itself. Because art is a product and a lot of artists think that it’s something good , it’s something good art is something good that you can do, . It’s a product and has its qualities and there are people who love those qualities and they need it in their life. So understanding art, understanding myself, and understanding other people. This is maybe what Making Art Making Money gave me.

Ann Rea: (21:06)
Man. I might have to make a graphic about that. That was good. . Alright. Thank you very much for your valuable time. Good luck with your show. I wanna hear all about it. Go sell ’em. Go remember– remember the upfront agreement, okay?

Ivo Popov: (21:23)
They’re all sold already.

Ann Rea: (21:25)
That’s right. I see them all sold. Yes. And I see all these people want commissions. I see that someone wants to you host an appreciation party. The people you meet there, it’s going to happen. Alright. Talk to you soon.

Ivo Popov: (21:44)
Thank you.

Ann Rea: (21:45)

Ivo Popov: (21:45)

Ann Rea: (21:45)

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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