How to set a goal to sell $10,000 of your fine art then almost double your results


Artist Ambrette Gilkey
Greeley, Colorado

Ann Rea: (00:00)
Pretty cool. Alright, everyone. This is Ann Rea, the creator of Making Art Making Money. And my guest, one of my students, Ambrette. And where are you sitting on the planet?

Ambrette Gilkey: (00:10)
I’m in Greeley, Colorado, about an hour north of Denver.

Ann Rea: (00:13)
Oh, okay. So do you know, Travis?

Ambrette Gilkey: (00:16)
I sure do.

Ann Rea: (00:17)
Alright then. Travis is another student from Colorado, from that neck of the woods. Okay, awesome. So what I love to ask students when they come on, I like to ask them if they’re willing to share “Before you joined the program, what were your top two challenges?” What were the things that you were wrestling with the most?

Ambrette Gilkey: (00:39)
Before I signed up for the program, not having a plan, or a mission. How to start my kind of serious art career or more serious art career.

Ann Rea: (00:54)

Ambrette Gilkey: (00:55)
Business. Right. I know I shouldn’t say that. Business. Okay.

Ann Rea: (01:01)
Alright. So, well, alright. How did not having a plan affect you? Like, how did that make you feel? Why and what was that about?

Ambrette Gilkey: (01:11)
Well, I talked to Travis actually because he has a successful art business. And I said, you know, “Maybe you could give me a few pointers.” And he said, “Do you have a plan?” I said, “That kind of gave– that’s scary.” I didn’t know where to start and what to do, so he gave me a few videos to watch and I thought that was something I was interested in.

Ann Rea: (01:42)
Great. Yes. So I always tell my students, “A plan to sell your art without a plan is a plan to sell no art.” Right? If you don’t have a plan, it’ll be like, “So I’m here in San Francisco and I want to go visit you in Greeley, Colorado. If I didn’t have a map, a plan, what would happen? I would probably drive around in circles and I would eventually run out of gas. I’d never get there. So having that destination is important, but then also having a plan to get there is really important. So we tend to underestimate how important it is. And I think what you just said is true. A lot of artists just don’t know where to start.

Ambrette Gilkey: (02:20)

Ann Rea: (02:21)
So, okay. So having a plan was the big challenge and then is there anything else?

Ambrette Gilkey: (02:30)
I didn’t know at that time, but I needed a mission. I needed my Why and discovering that to really help drive motivation, and connection to what the real purpose of what I want to do on this earth.

Ann Rea: (02:45)
Right. Right. Exactly. So now that you know your mission, how do you feel?

Ambrette Gilkey: (02:53)
Stronger. Connected. I have a purpose of my life and the past has led to this point and kind of all those connections come together.

Ann Rea: (03:14)
Feels pretty good, huh?

Ambrette Gilkey: (03:16)
Yes. It’s pretty freaking awesome.

Ann Rea: (03:19)
It’s pretty awesome. So you guys, if you don’t know, what I teach my students is to never try to sell themselves because they’re not for sale. . What I teach them is how to determine their purpose within a 28-day process. And that helps them determine their mission. So instead of trying to sell yourself, which never– is never going to feel good and it’s never going to work. I teach my students how to serve a mission that’s greater than themselves. And so, do you ever feel like you’re selling yourself now that you know your mission? Where are you at now?

Ambrette Gilkey: (03:53)
I’m doing prototype projects.

Ann Rea: (03:56)

Ambrette Gilkey: (03:57)
I mean, so much of my mission is myself, so that’s why I kind of–

Ann Rea: (04:00)
Of course. Well it’s based on what you learned, but you’re not like literally trying to sell yourself.

Ambrette Gilkey: (04:06)

Ann Rea: (04:06)
You’re not trying to like package yourself or be someone you’re not.

Ambrette Gilkey: (04:10)
No, I’m authentic. It’s a conversation that I have based on my own life experiences that I feel comfortable sharing at that time and space with someone.

Ann Rea: (04:21)
Right, right. Okay. So this is really powerful. I think so many people, whether they’re artists or not, long to know their purpose. And there’s no process out there that allows them to do that. We have one, the one that I created, but it’s not really, it’s so vague for so many people and once you know it, it’s game-changing. Let me ask you this, if you could travel back in time to the point where you decided you wanted to be a fine artist and you could give her like a piece of advice, what would you say to her now to that past self of yours? What would you say to her now?

Ambrette Gilkey: (05:05)
I would say trust and love yourself and listen to your inner truth and go with that.

Ann Rea: (05:20)
Right, right. So true. Okay. So tell me, what are the two biggest things you’ve learned or accomplished in the program since you joined the program?

Ambrette Gilkey: (05:31)
Two biggest things I’ve learned is–

Ann Rea: (05:34)
You posted something in the Facebook group.

Ambrette Gilkey: (05:39)
Yes, it’s so hard to think like what’s the biggest, biggest thing. Okay. well my mission number one.

Ann Rea: (05:46)

Ambrette Gilkey: (05:47)
And having confidence to trust myself, and I forgot the question.

Ann Rea: (06:01)
What were the two biggest things you’ve accomplished so far since you joined the program? So like in terms of your commission or sales. Like what is it?

Ambrette Gilkey: (06:09)
Needing my SMARTER goal.

Ann Rea: (06:12)
So tell us about your SMARTER goal cause no one knows what the hell we’re talking about.

Ambrette Gilkey: (06:16)
So at the beginning of the program a year ago, I set a SMARTER goal to sell over $10,000 of my art and to finish the courses of the Making Art Making Money program, and I accomplished that and I’m very proud of myself.

Ann Rea: (06:35)
So what are your sales? What were your– you’re not done yet either.

Ambrette Gilkey: (06:39)
It was just under $20,000.

Ann Rea: (06:42)

Ambrette Gilkey: (06:45)
Yes. So.

Ann Rea: (06:45)
I’m so proud of you! Look at you!

Ambrette Gilkey: (06:45)
That was pretty amazing.

Ann Rea: (06:54)
Did you think you could do it when you first started? Were you were like “Hmm.”

Ambrette Gilkey: (06:56)
Like I try. Mentally, I tried to prepare myself that I could but I didn’t know if it was possible. I just kept trusting. .

Ann Rea: (07:07)

Ambrette Gilkey: (07:07)
If some people did it, I can do it too.

Ann Rea: (07:09)
That’s just it. When you see everybody else doing it, don’t you just figure, “Well, they’re no different than me. I can do it too.”

Ambrette Gilkey: (07:15)

Ann Rea: (07:16)

Ambrette Gilkey: (07:17)

Ann Rea: (07:17)
Travis didn’t think he could do it either, and then he paid off the mortgage on his house. So yes. Whatever.

Ambrette Gilkey: (07:23)
Yes, I heard that. That was like, “I’m in.” I could– I want to pay off my house.

Ann Rea: (07:28)
Let me ask you this. Like, was there a moment when you thought “I almost didn’t enroll because of ___.” Fill in the blank.

Ambrette Gilkey: (07:40)
The price.

Ann Rea: (07:41)
The price. Yes. It’s not cheap. You get what you pay for too, generally. So yeah, we’re not– I’m not the, so just if you’re listening, this is not cheap. Okay? Not cheap. But in order to graduate, you’ve got to earn back your tuition investment at a minimum, which you’ve done several times. So if for some reason a student is unable to accomplish that within the course of an entire year, we’ll work with them for free until they do earn their tuition investment back through the sale of their art. But I don’t want to work for free. So I have an application process to make sure that I feel really confident that I can help my students. And I felt confident you’d be fine. But I also, you know, I never know with a 100% certainty, but I know this, if students do the work, it’s going to work. And I know this, if you’ve already sold your art, then if you have a proven process, you have an expert mentor and you have a supportive community, chances are pretty damn good that you’re going to sell more. It’s not rocket science. Right?

Ambrette Gilkey: (08:47)
That’s right. .

Ann Rea: (08:49)
So now you’re at around $20k. Can you see $40k? Can you see $60k? Can you see these other SMARTER goals coming towards you?

Ambrette Gilkey: (08:58)
Yes. Yes.

Ann Rea: (08:59)
Good, good. Now let me ask you this. If someone was thinking about applying to enroll, but they’re all scared or whatever was going on with them, who knows? Right? What would you honestly say to someone who’s just thinking about it and thinking about it?

Ambrette Gilkey: (09:17)
Well, honestly, I pictured myself a year from now or a year ago in a year, and I thought, “If you don’t do this, where will you be? You still won’t have a plan.” You know, I didn’t know I didn’t have another opportunity and I would be upset that I lost a year that I hadn’t at least taken that opportunity and taken a chance on myself and taking that chance really I gained more confidence to keep going and keep going. And I mean, just believe in yourself a little bit to grow more.

Ann Rea: (10:00)
Yes. And know we want to help you. Right? Mm-hmm. Bet on yourself you guys. You’re the best. You got to bet on yourself at some point. “You got to bet on yourself. And the best investment you can make is in yourself.” That’s Warren Buffet. That’s not me. That’s a quote. That’s really famous of his. But I’m so glad that you did bet on yourself cause look how much money you’ve made so far, but not just that. Look how much more confident you are. And I’m sure you’re much more poised and relaxed when you’re talking to potential collectors now than you were before. But let me– I don’t want to put words in your mouth. What was it like before you joined when you’re talking to prospective collectors? How did you feel? And then how do you feel now?

Ambrette Gilkey: (10:43)
I felt less than, and maybe– I had, “Maybe they might be interested or maybe they’ll feel sorry for me.” .

Ann Rea: (10:53)
Yes. This is oh the “Pity purchase.”

Ambrette Gilkey: (10:57)
And now I feel more equal to talk to people.

Ann Rea: (11:03)
Because you are.

Ambrette Gilkey: (11:04)
Right. I mean I believe everyone is equal, but why would I be less than?

Ann Rea: (11:08)

Ambrette Gilkey: (11:09)
So just having a conversation with someone about my truth of who I am, and what I can offer. And if they’re not interested, then that’s okay too.

Ann Rea: (11:23)
Yes. But if they are, isn’t it a beautiful invitation for them to be who they are?

Ambrette Gilkey: (11:31)
Yes. Yes. To make that connection like selling my first Prototype Project, my first commission piece was an awesome high Which I was like, “I want to keep doing this.”

Ann Rea: (11:46)

Ambrette Gilkey: (11:47)
This is what I am meant to do.

Ann Rea: (11:48)
It’s so inspiring. There’s nothing more for artists who are lacking inspiration or motivation, selling your art is the best form of validation and motivation and inspiration that I know of. And so what Ambrette is referring to, the “Prototype Project.” So my students go through several courses inside of the program, and then there is a final project, which we call the “Prototype Project,” and they learn why people bought their art and they learn why people didn’t buy their art, which is actually more valuable to know than why they did buy it. And then you can take that information in if it’s useful and you can make adjustments, but you’re never just going to be feeling all rejected and puzzled, because you get the information in the context of the Prototype Project. So that’s why it’s a really powerful process. And of course you’re developing relationships with these people who are obviously going to be able to give you introductions and referrals. And so for those who are listening, referrals are responsible for 80% more sales on average. And you keep 100% of the money. You don’t pay sales commissions or finder fees or any of that, but I’m sure you’re probably well past 80% based on your numbers that you’ve got. Probably have more, way more referrals than that. So, good for you. I’m so proud of you. I love, love, love, love, love. When I don’t owe you anything .

Ann Rea: (13:21)
Yes. It makes me feel great. And I love that you know your mission and I can tell like you really, it’s landed. You know, you know. You know who you are. You know who you are now more than ever.

Ambrette Gilkey: (13:32)
Yes. More room to grow.

Ann Rea: (13:35)
What’s that?

Ambrette Gilkey: (13:37)
More room to grow.

Ann Rea: (13:38)
Oh, of course. Always. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me and to share your experience with other fine artists who may be in the same place that you were without a plan and without a lot of confidence when talking to collectors. And hopefully if you’re listening, you can see that if you’re in that place, it’s a very painful place to wrestle with. But there is an option. You don’t have to stay that way. Okay?

Ambrette Gilkey: (14:06)
That’s right.

Ann Rea: (14:07)
You don’t have to unless you want to suffer. Suffering is optional. You can do that if you want to. Alright, everyone, thank you again and I’ll see you in class.

Ambrette Gilkey: (14:15)
Okay. Thank you.

Ann Rea: (14:16)

Ambrette Gilkey: (14:17)

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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