Artist: Eileen Covington; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
What was Eileen Covington’s challenges as an artist
Eileen Covington: Well I was selling some art. And the reason I got into the course at all, was because I wanted to sell more art. I wanted to make more money and maybe even quit my day job. Or at least put on back burner the day job. So that was my big challenge. And then confidence.
QUESTION: What has Eileen accomplished so far?
Ann Rea: I considered giving her a discount, but I held my breath and I told her my new higher price and she went for it no problem. When I started the course back in October, I set a goal to have my trip to Italy, in May 2018, paid for with my art by the end of the year. Results are that my art paid for the trip, extra spending money and a four star hotel. In just under the December 31, 2017 deadline too. So that’s two months you made enough to go to Italy, plus spending money, plus stay in a four star hotel.
Eileen Covington: Right, exactly. And now I think maybe I should’ve raised my goals.
QUESTION: How do you define a goal?
Ann Rea: I think you have to set a goal that you can believe in at the time that you make the goal. So based on your level of confidence… My dog’s going nuts, she sees the reflection in my eyeglasses. So based upon your confidence at the time, that’s going to shape your goals. So that’s where you were at and now that you’ve accomplished it, more than accomplished it, you can set another goal.
Eileen Covington: Right.
QUESTION: What has been your biggest take away?
Eileen Covington: I think the biggest thing was going through course two where you’re going through the pain and joy process and trying to find your why. And in the beginning when I first started doing that, I was all up in my head and I wanted it to sound right and I wanted to get an A on this. And I went through it and it just wasn’t fitting at all. So I listened to all of the videos that were in course three and there’s some others on other parts of the website and I listened to everybody. And I went back through the course two and I did the pain and the joy, again, and I discovered my true why. And I know that it was true, because I was very emotional about it this time and last time I was like maybe up in my head again.
Ann Rea: Right, yeah, that’s how I tell you, you gotta feel it. If you don’t feel it, it’s not right. Because what’s our product?
Eileen Covington: Emotion, exactly. Exactly.
QUESTION: What has changed for you?
Eileen Covington: Now I have permission to be who I am and that was huge, that’s pretty huge. And then confidence, again, has grown dramatically because going through this and doing the exercises and like I said, I’m still not completely there, but I’m getting a roadmap or a way to do this. And I’m not sure, well I know that it’s not gonna stay like this, it’s gonna change over time and market already has. But at least I have kind of a plan, I’ve got a plan of what I’m going to do to move the business forward and try to keep in my lane about the business.
QUESTION: What has changed with your collectors?
Eileen Covington: That once I started working from that why and started doing some work from that perspective, the results coming back from the customers is huge and that’s given me the confidence. I had one call me today just crying, emotionally she was so overwhelmed with the painting that she had gotten and I want that. That’s kind of the why of the what and all of that. So that brings me confidence, because yes it is working, I am finding what I set out to find. And it’s showing up in the art. So that’s getting better.
QUESTION: What changed after you raised your prices?
Eileen Covington: The person who I told her the higher price and she went for it without any effort at all, I gave her the painting the other day and in the conversation it just sorta morphed into well these other people need painting also. And I ended up with three commissions out of that, not really planning that when I went in to see her, but yay. It’s good.
Ann Rea: Fantastic. And okay the reason why that’s so, so important is because your sales as a small business, small micro business, the statistics are 65 to 85% of all of your sales are gonna come by way of referral. Now if you were working through a gallery or representative, you wouldn’t have got those three commissions.
QUESTION: Did you feel awkward asking for referrals?
Eileen Covington: It wasn’t like a snarky salesy thing, it was we were just talking about other people that would appreciate this sort of thing and she immediately said, okay, we’ll do that. And then she called me back and gave me another one so I had three commissions from that conversation.
Ann Rea: Did you notice you didn’t have a sleazy sales conversation, you weren’t manipulative, you just had an authentic conversation with someone and you guided it and you got three commissions.
Eileen Covington: Right.
QUESTION: Should you discount the price of your art?
Ann Rea: Here’s the thing, when you offer a discount what you’re doing is you’re degrading your brand, number one. Number two, you make that people that you just offered a discount to start to lose confidence in what you’re doing and what you’re offering. And number three, you’re not being very fair to all the people who’ve paid you full price or you’ve asked to have them pay you full price, and that’s not showing us any integrity. So it’s not a good idea. You’re shooting yourself in the foot when you offer a discount. And when someone asks you for a discount, say no.
QUESTION: Why did you discount your art before?
Eileen Covington: That’s something that came from my course two also. And maybe other artists feel the same way, I never really respected my art. I never really took it seriously. And as I was growing up it was like oh, that’s kind of a fun thing, music, art, they’re like play things, but that’s not like a serious, that’s like no kind of job or anything. So that sort of runs in the back of my mind that we really just don’t give it the credibility that it deserves.
Ann Rea: So how bout now? Do you give it credit now that you just made enough money to go to Italy and stay in a four star hotel and you have spending money and you just got three commissions by referral? What’s that story look like now?
Eileen Covington: I’m still astounded by it, but I’m ecstatically happy about it and I do respect it now, because I can see it’s a door opening that I never really opened before. And it’s a humongous nother dimension that I’m entering. So I have a lot of respect for that.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for other students?
Eileen Covington: Don’t rush through it. I’m really big on just get it done, get an A, get it rockin, and it really needs to percolate. You need to let it and you need to be honest with yourself about it, don’t try and make it sound good. And a lot of the stuff I read on Facebook it sounds wordy like you’re trying to make it sound acceptable to the world. And when I was doing that it was unacceptable to me and when I went back and said okay, this is what it really is, nobody else is gonna see this but me.
Ann Rea: Right.
Eileen Covington: Really is. That just released a whole lot of energy around it. So would say don’t rush through it. And I’ve talked to a couple said well I went through the program and I gotta go back and do this, this, this, and this. I don’t wanna do that, I wanna go through the program step by step and get out at the end. And I know it’s gonna morph during that time and I may wanna repeat things, but I don’t wanna repeat them because I didn’t do them the first time.
QUESTION: What did you learn about art competitions?
Eileen Covington: Another thing was not joining competitions. Because I was tempted to do that and I work in watercolor so a lot of people are pressuring me to get in the Watercolor Society so you can have the credential or to go into the competitions. And I was invited to do one last week and realized it was gonna cost me more than the prize to get the art together and frame it, and get it over there and pay my fee. And if I don’t win, I’m in the hole, and if I do win, I’m breaking even. so what do you gain from that?
Ann Rea: And you know based on what you just told me, why would you bother doing that when you could put the same amount of time and energy into just selling your art? And giving people the value that you created for them. Why would you bother?
Eileen Covington: I think people want validation.
Ann Rea: So when that woman phoned you up and was crying because she was so moved by your art versus the frickin blue ribbon that might get, probably won’t get from the art contest, which would you rather have?
Eileen Covington: Oh absolutely, that’s validation, that phone call was validation. The they gave me to do the painting was validation. It’s not about the money.
Ann Rea: Exactly, so it’s either that, that’s your choice. You can inspire people ’cause that’s your job as an artist, you can inspire people and get paid for your art full price, or you might, maybe, can pay, and you’re paying, to get a frickin blue ribbon. And you’re probably not gonna get the frickin blue ribbon.
Eileen Covington: I’m not gonna get it. Good ‘ol boy network there, so no.
Ann Rea: Yeah, it’s a tremendous waste of time. I understand that artists need validation, I get it, but that is not the way. Their art contest organizers are preying upon the artists’ vulnerability and need for validation. But it’s not–
Eileen Covington: Also the environment. It’s like you have to get in the societies, you have to be accepted.
Ann Rea: So let’s just break this down. Have any of your collectors say hold on a second, Eileen, I’m not sure if I wanna commission you, are you in the Watercolor Society? Has anyone?
Eileen Covington: Nobody has said that, no. No.
Ann Rea: You think they ever will?
Eileen Covington: They don’t even know it exists.
QUESTION: Should artists apply to enroll?
Eileen Covington: Absolutely other artists should, there’s nothing out there like this. Not that I know about. I did some lurking in the background before I joined it, I looked around for other places. And since I’ve been in this I’ve gotten emails from other people wanting to sell me things, but there’s nothing like this that really gives you a path to success and to build a business and to run a business like a business. I think a lot of artists have an aversion to having a business around their art, it somehow ruins there credibility or something. I’m not really sure what that is. So there’s nobody that I find that is actually gonna show you hot to run an art business like a business and make a profit and be good with that, feel good about that.
MAKING Art Making MONEY