How To Create Value Above and Beyond Your Art

How To Create Value Above and Beyond Your Art


Artist, Monique Cudbertson Ontario, Canada

Ann Rea: (00:00)
Hello everyone. This is Anne Rea coming to you live from San Francisco, California. I’m a fine artist. I’m also the creator of the Making Art Making Money program. And I have one of my super-smart students here today, and I’m just going to have a chat with her about some of the things that she learned, some of the challenges she had before she joined the program, and all that good stuff. So Monique, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from?

Monique Cudbertson: (00:25)
So my name’s Monique Cudbertson and I live in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Ann Rea: (00:32)
Okay. Say hi to Bob Proctor. He’s not far from you. So Bob Proctor is actually someone who I met really early on in my journey and he kind of hosted the movie, “The Secret.” So that’s when I think of when I hear Ontario. I immediately think Bob Proctor. And I think of a lot of snow too. There’s a lot of snow.

Monique Cudbertson: (00:56)
There can be. Absolutely.

Ann Rea: (00:58)
Yeah. So Monique, you know, I know like you’ve made some progress. There’s a bug appearing on this interview. You’ve made a lot of progress since we started working together in the Making Art Making Money program, but I’d like to travel back in time in your brain to before you joined the program. What were your top two challenges?

Monique Cudbertson: (01:21)
Well definitely the first one would just be confidence. You know, the confidence to talk about what I’m doing, and the confidence in myself and that what I was doing and creating was a value to others.

Ann Rea: (01:39)
So this is really common to artists to have a real, you know, if you think about it, like, is there any other profession who is subject to continuous criticism that isn’t even solicited? So of course it knocks your confidence back, right?

Monique Cudbertson: (01:57)
Yeah, definitely. And just not feeling like– that it was worth money. Like I just had that block for myself and this [inaudible].

Ann Rea: (02:09)
Got it. That’s a big one too. And a lot of– I’m curious, Monique, if this was true for you. A lot of artists will say, “Well, I would do this for free so I’m having a hard time justifying asking for money for it.” Did you have that going on in your head?

Monique Cudbertson: (02:26)
A little bit. And also just like there’s so much, you know, a monetary value is put on for example a refrigerator or a TV, or you know like some sort of item that was built in a factory somewhere. And so this art that’s coming from me seemed so, I don’t know, not worth anything.

Ann Rea: (02:48)
Well, I mean, so that’s a really interesting comment. You said “From me, not worth anything.” So I think if that’s how you were before, right? So that was tied, if I could do a little psychological diagnosis, right? Like before you had a much lower level of self-confidence. And so your art, the way you valued your own art, was a much lower. So, okay. So confidence was a big challenge and also understanding or assigning confidently a value to what you were creating. So those were your top two challenges?

Monique Cudbertson: (03:26)

Ann Rea: (03:27)
Okay. So let’s talk about– let’s fast forward. So like, I know you’ve like, what have been your top two lessons or insights or benefits so far? What are those?

Monique Cudbertson: (03:42)
There’s been so much.

Ann Rea: (03:48)
Well, I guess I’ll– like what pops into your head first? Like when I say, “What was one of the biggest things that you’ve learned or benefited from that’s different from when you started?”

Monique Cudbertson: (04:00)
I have a clear plan.

Ann Rea: (04:03)

Monique Cudbertson: (04:04)
So before I was doing all the things, competitions and art shows and just, yeah, all those things. And it just seemed like I wasn’t gaining any momentum in any one direction cause I was spreading it everywhere. And now that I have like a plan.

Ann Rea: (04:21)

Monique Cudbertson: (04:21)
A roadmap. It feels so much more attainable.

Ann Rea: (04:27)
Yeah. It is. Because if you think about it, Monique, like, let’s just imagine you and I were sharing a pie, like right? We can only cut, we cut the pie this way. We cut the pie that way, and this way. I don’t know. Maybe we wind up with eight pieces, but what a lot of artists are doing is because they don’t have a roadmap is they’re trying to do this and trying to do this and trying to do this. And they keep cutting the pie until the pies like mush and it’s completely ineffective. And they’re exhausted and they have run out of gas. They’ve run out of hope. So, yeah. So that’s great. So you have clarity. You’ve got a plan. What’s like one other thing that you have now that you didn’t have before you joined the program?

Monique Cudbertson: (05:14)
A really clear purpose and mission that it feels so deep that it’s like it’s just this undeniable feeling of like, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” And it’s really wonderful.

Ann Rea: (05:33)
Yeah. So, because you have that too Monique, you can inspire people, right? Like, do you think without knowing your purpose and without your mission, you could have inspired people at the level that you can now?

Monique Cudbertson: (05:50)
No, definitely not. And it’s really interesting. And I actually spent some time in my studio this evening and there was no one there. It was super quiet, and I was just looking at all my work. And the work from pre-program to like now, there’s a whole another layer to my actual physical artwork as well where I feel like that wasn’t there before, even though the painting’s beautiful. You know, there wasn’t that same depth or [inaudible].

Ann Rea: (06:21)
Right. So just so you know, I hear this a lot. I hear from students who once they have– they know their purpose, they know their mission, what naturally happens is their confidence increases. And because they have a roadmap, their focus increases. And then what happens is the quality of their art increases.

Monique Cudbertson: (06:41)
Absolutely. I can attest that 100% percent. Like that’s how I feel. Absolutely. Cause I feel like I’m not blocking that purpose anymore. It’s just like it’s coming out of me.

Ann Rea: (06:55)
So do you feel like you can be more of who you are? Like just more authentic as a result?

Monique Cudbertson: (07:04)
Yeah. In my whole life, not just as an art business owner and an artist, but just in my whole life I feel more true to me.

Ann Rea: (07:17)
Damn. That’s pretty good.

Monique Cudbertson: (07:20)
So good.

Ann Rea: (07:21)
I guess the next question is like, would you like to share your mission? You want to give it a go? Cause I bet people are curious. “What’s this woman’s mission? This lady in Canada. What’s her mission?” Go ahead.

Monique Cudbertson: (07:35)
Okay. Well I have a hard time articulating it. So I like to start off with just like a quick question. You know that feeling you feel when you are just a wash with warmth or love or bliss or whatever that feeling is to you and your heart just opens?

Ann Rea: (07:56)

Monique Cudbertson: (07:56)
Like feeling has no words.

Ann Rea: (08:01)
Right. Beyond description.

Monique Cudbertson: (08:04)
Yes. That feeling. I am so grateful and so blessed to have been able to live in that so often in my life. And so my mission is to share that. To share that you can choose to have that feeling anytime you want in any situation you want. You just need to take that moment to tap in. And I wanted to just teach or like help people to remind them that they can do that and feel that.

Ann Rea: (08:33)
Okay. So first of all, that’s an awesome mission. So what I would love to know, if you’re willing to share, you had a painful moment in your life and a corresponding lesson. And you had three, at least three feelings that were associated with that, and you had a joyful moment. Would you mind sharing what that painful moment was that helped shape your mission and what that joyful moment was?

Monique Cudbertson: (08:54)

Monique Cudbertson: (08:56)
And this one I haven’t actually ever really shared yet. So, but I think it’s really pertinent to it. And that’s a fairly recently isolated in COVID. I was in the shower and I just was having a moment of pure, like I was rocked with grief and pain and isolation and loneliness. And in that moment I remember just like shaking with it those hard, hard feelings. And yeah, it was, I was like, “What is going on with me? What is wrong with me?” And when I really took a step back and looked at that moment, it was like, I had a choice right then and there to continue down that road of those feelings and let them be overwhelming, or I could choose to take a deep breath, reconnect with my heart and open it back up. And that’s what I did. And you know, life started feeling much better after that.

Ann Rea: (10:02)
Wow. So that’s really powerful because there’s so many people throughout this pandemic, who’ve had those panicky moments that are really scary and overwhelming because there’s so much unknown. And one of the things I wanna talk to you about was one of the things I teach my students is a proprietary process that I created called “the four-part code.” And I developed the four-part code by studying two things, a deep study of art history and also a deep study of luxury marketing. And I combined those two and sort of reverse engineered how famous artists found their niche. Now, a lot of artists don’t even know what the word niche means. So allow me to explain it. What it means is it means you know who wants to buy your art, why they want to buy it, and where to go find more people just like them.

Ann Rea: (10:55)
And there’s no business on this planet that would survive if they didn’t know who their customers were, why their customers wanted to buy from them, and where to go find more customers. So that’s the big piece that’s missing for so many artists. So the whole goal of the Making Art Making Money program is to help my students get to a place where they know their niche. But first they have to start where Monique is right now. She knows the first two parts of that four-part code. She knows her Why. She knows her purpose which has nothing to do with her art. It has everything to do with her. It’s who she is, what she stands for, and what she stands against. And you can get a sense that she has got that figured out. And then once you know your Why, your purpose, then you know your mission which is just your Why in the form of a problem that needs to be solved.

Ann Rea: (11:51)
And so Monique just confidently, very confidently shared that. You can feel it. And then the next step in the process is understanding your How which is how you can create clear value above and beyond your art in service to that mission. Now, your Why has got nothing to do with your art. It’s got everything to do with you. Your “What” has got nothing to do with your art and nothing to do with you. And your “How” has got nothing to do with you and nothing to do with your art. But what’s interesting is Monique kind of has, I think she may have dialed in her How. And I thought it was really interesting. Now your How, again, is not your artistic skill. It’s another skill or another resource that’s readily available to you. And that gives you energy to actually use. So Monique, what are you experimenting with now when it comes to your How? What’s the value that you are offering above and beyond your art? And by the way, the reason why that’s important is if you don’t offer value above and beyond your art, you’re stuck competing with all the other talented artists who are frankly more talented than you, more talented than me. You can’t charge as much money, and you can’t be noticed. You can’t differentiate. So the How is a critical piece of the four-part code. So tell us what are you experimenting with. Share with us what you’re up to.

Monique Cudbertson: (13:13)
Uh, so what I’m experimenting with is bringing my spiritual Reiki healing practice into the process of creating a piece of artwork for someone,

Ann Rea: (13:28)
Nice. Okay. Not everyone knows what Reiki is. So please give us a high level definition of what a Reiki practice means for those who don’t know.

Monique Cudbertson: (13:39)
Reike is a really subtle gentle form of energy healing. And it’s– it can be done via distance or in-person.

Ann Rea: (13:49)
And where did it, so you have training in this then?

Monique Cudbertson: (13:52)

Ann Rea: (13:53)
So you have another skill or another resource that you can bring to the table, right?

Monique Cudbertson: (13:59)

Ann Rea: (13:59)
And you said, I think in one of your prototype project. So by the way, my students have final project called the “Prototype project.” And that’s when they’ll either sell their art or they won’t sell their art. Either way is okay because they’ll learn why they did. And they’ll also learn why they didn’t. And I think learning why you didn’t is actually more informative than learning why you did sell your art. So Monique is experimenting with prototype project and you did this recently, right? You experimented with your How, and just tell us how did that go? What happened?

Monique Cudbertson: (14:32)
It was an unbelievable experience. I had connected with this woman whose mother had just passed from a long time with cancer. And she had found this photo. It was a selfie of her and her mom and asked me if I could paint it. And I was like, “Okay, wonderful.” So I really just sat with that. Used my rate, did a Reiki session. Really connected with her. We spoke about it, and then I proceeded to create the painting, which I feel like I’ve had some of that energy flowing through me and I presented it to her. She just, she said it was– she had no words. She said, “It’s incredible.” She was in her car looking at the photo on the phone, caught like in tears, because she was so moved and so grateful and humbled by it. Which in turn, I was so grateful and humbled and in tears too. It was really wonderful.

Ann Rea: (15:37)
So noticed what Monique just said. It’s — she just spoke her mission. If you listened to her mission earlier, what she described in terms of her reaction and her collector’s reaction is her mission. So you, you nailed it.

Monique Cudbertson: (15:54)

Ann Rea: (15:54)
There you go.

Monique Cudbertson: (15:56)
It’s like, it’s such an incredible– I have that feeling right now. My heart is just like a wash with warmth right now.

Ann Rea: (16:04)
That’s amazing. And when you really, you know, one of the other things that I teach my students is you’re not selling goods or services. And that’s why conventional marketing plans and business plans don’t work for artists. What your product, if you don’t understand your product, you have to understand your product to be successful in selling it. And the product is emotion. Andit sounds like that was in abundance and still is.

Monique Cudbertson: (16:30)
Absolutely. And I feel like that’s actually a really good point. And when you were asking me like my biggest takeaways, I would say that would also be one of like the top takeaways is that yeah, our product isn’t paint on canvas or stone that’s been carved. It is emotion. There’s so much more to it than just that physical.

Ann Rea: (16:52)
Absolutely. And then, but what artists do to describe their product, they talk about their medium. They talk about their technique.

Monique Cudbertson: (17:00)

Ann Rea: (17:01)
That’s not it. It’s not– you’re not paint. You’re not selling paint stuck on canvas. You’re not selling bent metal. It’s emotion which means that art is in the eye of beholder. Someone, some people will feel it, and some people won’t. And there is no right or wrong in how you feel. It is what it is, right?

Monique Cudbertson: (17:20)

Ann Rea: (17:21)
So let me ask you a question, like, was there when you were considering, and you were applying for the Making Art Making Money program, was there a point where you almost didn’t join? And what was that?

Monique Cudbertson: (17:33)
Well, actually, we– you and I had an interview and we’re going to kind of do the whole process and I just could not financially make it work, but the seed was planted and I followed you and I followed what was happening. I saved my pennies. And then last March, the time was just right. And I was like, I got to do this.

Ann Rea: (17:55)
Excellent. So, yeah. So it sounds like you kept your intention and you just made it work. Now, if someone else was like, “Oh, I don’t know. Should I apply? I don’t know. Should I?” What would you honestly say to them? Nevermind what I say. I say all sorts of things in ads and stuff like that. But what would you say to them?

Monique Cudbertson: (18:15)
I would say that you have to be ready to do a deep dive into your own self and commit a 100% to your own self. And if you’re ready to do that, then like don’t hesitate for a second.

Ann Rea: (18:33)
Yeah. I think that’s an excellent piece of advice. Like you can’t really kind of, you can have asked this. Right?

Monique Cudbertson: (18:44)
No. I tried. I tried in the beginning [inaudible].

Ann Rea: (18:46)
I know. We know. We gave you a nudge or two. So Monique was like really eager. She wanted to know, “I want to know my niche now. I want to know who wants to buy my work now.” And we’re like, “No, you have the cart before the horse.” And I know you want to, I know you want to put the cherry on top of the cake, but first you need to preheat the oven and mix the batter and you can’t turn it up to 500 just to make the cake quick, you know, bake faster. There is a process just like there’s a process to everything. So, I want to give a little bit of a mention. We’re going to do another free five day challenge on October the 5th, which is Tuesday. It’s going to be at noon Pacific Standard Time. And so if you’d like to join, you want to make sure you sign up for it.

Ann Rea: (19:37)
And the name of the challenge is “How to find your next collector quickly.” And we’re going to set you up with classes that are going to be about 30 minutes each from noon to 12:30 Pacific Standard Time. And then you’re going to get some mini-exercises that shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes. So if you don’t have 30 minutes a day or 10 minutes, I don’t know if you really want to be an artist. I don’t know. I’m not sure because it’s not that hard. And it’s recorded if you can’t make it to the live session. So if you want to sign up, and you want to learn a little bit more about the program, and a little bit more about what Monique is sharing with you, that’s one opportunity to get a little taste of it anyway. So I guess another final question for you, Monique, is if you could travel back in time to your artist’s self before you knew what your purpose was, before you even knew what a niche was, maybe that artist who wasn’t so confident and didn’t really know the value of her art and ever herself, which I’m quite sure you’re getting pretty clued in on

Ann Rea: (20:41)
now, given the response you just got, what would you actually say to her? What would you tell that artist?

Monique Cudbertson: (20:48)
Whoa, I would tell her to sign up. Just keep, keep being true. Like keep going and keep digging and keep trying. And just you got to be hungry for it. And you got to go after it and reaching out to resources like this is how you move forward.

Ann Rea: (21:10)
Right. But if it’s not working, don’t keep doing it, right?

Monique Cudbertson: (21:16)
Oh absolutely!

Ann Rea: (21:16)
Like if you’re doing, like if you’re entering contests, please stop. If you’re entering juried shows, please stop. You’re looking for validation for your art if you’re doing that. The only people who win the art contest or juried shows for that matter are the organizers and the self-appointed judges. If you want validation in the value of your art and the value of yourself as an artist, the only way you’re going to get that is selling your art. So focus on selling, not showing. And if you want to learn a little bit more about how to do that with a lot more ease, come to the five-day challenge and we will give you some great insights about that. Thank you so much, Monique. I have just watched your transformations and very proud of you because you started out like, “Damn it! I want my Who.” And you just, you finally, you’re like you’ve settled into the process and look at the impact you just had on that collector.

Monique Cudbertson: (22:17)
Yeah, it was incredible.

Ann Rea: (22:20)
So if she bought a refrigerator, which is what you mentioned earlier, would she have that kind of experience with her refrigeration purchase?

Monique Cudbertson: (22:30)
Probably not.

Ann Rea: (22:31)
Probably not. So the point, the moral of that story is look at how much value you provided, Monique.

Monique Cudbertson: (22:41)
Yes, feels good.

Ann Rea: (22:41)
Yeah, it feels fantastic. All right. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me and anyone else who’s going to listen to this. And we’ll see you in class.

Monique Cudbertson: (22:53)
Yes. Thank you!

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