“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol Apply Now
Being a Confident Artist Comes from Learning to Trust Yourself.
– Okay, to do this, I really appreciate it, it gives me really good information, and what I’m gonna do is just ask you a few questions. I’m actually not gonna share this in our private Facebook group so that you don’t feel self-conscious. You can just tell me the truth.
– But before I do, I wanna make sure I have your permission to use this for educational or promotional or whatever purposes, and that’s okay with you.
– Okay, so what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna ask you a question and what I’d like you to do is just answer the question– repeat the question, and then give me the answer. So for example, if I said, Deborah, what’s your favorite ice-cream? You would say, my favorite ice-cream is… and then fill in the blank. That make sense?
– Okay, yes.
– Okay. All right, so my first question for you is what was your number one challenge with your art when you decided to enroll in this semester what was your number one challenge when it came to selling your art?
– Well looking back I’d say my number one challenge was not really believing it was possible. I thought that it was my focus, I thought it was I didn’t know who to sell to. It was that I really didn’t believe it was possible.
– That’s a big insight, man! That’s huge.
– Wow, I’m glad… So, you think it’s possible?
– Oh God, yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yes, yes I do. I don’t have to qualify that.
– So your biggest challenge was underneath it all you really didn’t think it was possible to sell your art?
– Okay. Dang! All right, and then number two: what was your second biggest challenge when it comes to selling your art? And then you rephrase that, say my second challenge was…
– Let’s see. My second challenge I’d have to say was not knowing where to focus; whether it… I mean, there was no problem focusing in creating my art. It was where to focus my energy on you know, do I market, how do I market, should I focus on my website, should I– I really didn’t know what to do. So yeah, I would say that was my second challenge, is just not knowing where to focus.
– Right, okay, I hear that a lot. People just don’t know where to start. They usually focus on their website, which is actually not the place to start.
– And then you spend a lot of money and a lot of time, waste a lot of money and time on that.
– So you know that’s not the place to start anymore.
– Oh yeah.
– Thank God. ‘Cause you could spend so much on your website. All right, what was– so my next question is, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned so far in this semester?
– Well I’d really given that some thought, knowing that I was gonna be talking to you, and it’s not what I thought it was. The biggest thing that I’ve learned is to trust my own wisdom, trust my own process, to trust myself. That my process is uniquely mine, and I think because of the amount of work that I have done over the last 30 some odd years on myself in terms of personal growth, I’ve amassed much more wisdom and experience than I gave myself credit for. And my way of being in the world was always to compare myself to others. Am I good enough, am I fast enough, am I smart enough, am I talented enough? You know, all of that. And I always came out on the short end of the stick. And since being in this semester, I’ve had enough experience now with the different processes to know that I don’t necessarily work though them the way that other people do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And my… As a result my confidence in myself in the… Just the way the process works has grown to the point where now I don’t really question myself. I may get stuck somewhere, but I just delve deeper, if that’s the case, and I just trust. Kind of like creating a painting. There’s points in the painting where it doesn’t look like anything works, nothing makes sense, I don’t know where to go next, and this is a creative process just like that, where I need to trust that if I allow my wisdom to come through, if I allow myself to be guided, I’ll know what to do next. It won’t be figuring it out from here. I will know.
– And so out of that I have much more freedom to not obsess, to just kind of be myself in this process. I’m much more myself than I’ve ever been, and it’s a wonderful experience because now I like who I am, I trust who I am, and I’m drawing on oh, a lifetime of experience to do this semester. I’m bringing everything I have to it and it’s working. You know, when I get stuck, I have support, which I’ve never had before, and I have ways of moving myself through with a calmness and a sureness now that I never had before.
– That’s amazing. Wow, that gives me goosebumps. That makes me really happy to hear. It really, really does make some… ‘Cause that’s my dearest hope, is that my students will experience that self-confidence.
– Yeah. Yeah, and I no longer have the fears that I did either. I don’t suffer from self-doubt every day. I’m just moving ahead, and like I said, when I get stuck, I trust that that stuck-ness is just part of the process.
– You get tools to unstuck your– un-stick yourself.
– Un-sticking tools.
– Yeah, and sometimes it’s really not a tool, it’s just giving myself the space to let things evolve as they need to. It just works for me.
– Right. So, my next question is would you recommend the Making Art, Making Money semester to other artists, and if so, why would you recommend?
– Yes, I would absolutely recommend it, and I actually have, to a number of people. But I’ll qualify that because I think that the artists who do well in the semester, and this is just from my own personal experience, ’cause I don’t know everybody who’s done the semester, but my sense of it is is that it needs to be someone who maybe is a bit rebellious? That has a different way of being in the world, that they don’t just accept the way things are. I mean, I’m in contact with a number of other artists who I would not recommend this to.
– Number one, I don’t think they’re ready to do the deep work, may never be, and they’re much more comfortable in a setting of giving their power to others. I’ve never been comfortable in that arena.
– Me either.
– Yeah, so you know, I find– and I shared this with a study partner the other day, is for me, I tend to dig deep rather than go wide. You know, I just keep going deeper and deeper and digging more and more, and expanding from that deep place. I think that in order to really succeed with this process you have to be willing to go really deep, and I don’t think necessarily the majority of people whether they’re artists or not, are that willing.
– That’s correct.
– You know, so–
– You gotta be brave.
– Yes I absolutely would recommend this, and I would qualify it with: this is what it takes, and you know, if they’re willing then they’re willing, but if not then on to something else.
– And would you say what it takes is bravery?
– Oh, absolutely. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to face the things that you’ve never wanted to face. It takes courage to put yourself out there and allow yourself to be vulnerable and supported, and it takes courage to believe that there’s another way. You know, that you can forge your own path.
– So yeah, absolutely.
– And I can see that you’ve felt really supported in the group and that’s fantastic, I’m so glad to hear that. ‘Cause we do have a solitary existence in general as artists.
– What I was going to say first about the most important thing I’ve learned is the value of support; that’s probably the second most valuable thing I’ve learned so far, because as most of us as artists do, we kind of work in isolation. And I’ve been particularly isolated over the course of my life for a number of reasons that don’t really matter right now, but I have never experienced the kind of support, non-judgmental support, that I have in the semester, from you, from other participants. I’ve learned now that it’s not only okay to ask for help and support; it’s necessary.
– It sure is.
– Yeah, and I was always the lone wolf, you know, I mean, I just… I’ve kinda gone a very solitary path most of my life, out of a lot of the stuff that I have now learned are my self-limiting beliefs, my doubts about myself, shame that I’ve carried, you know, a lot of the old programming from my upbringing that many of us have, I hid myself away.
– I didn’t really realize how much I was hiding myself away until I had the availability of all of these people who were so willing to accept me and support me the way I am, you know. That’s been incredible.
– Well, I recommend a book by Russell Simmons, the hip-hop mogul, called Do You. The only way you’re gonna make it as an artist is if you are 100% authentically yourself. You have to– that’s your only… that’s the only way you can differentiate yourself from all the other talent, is to be 100% authentically you. And if you compare yourself with other artists, that is the most immediate way– or people, compare to anyone, that’s the most surefire way to lose your confidence…
– is compare yourself to others. It’s such a futile and punishing thing to do. So let me ask you this: what’s one thing that you gained from this semester that surprised you, that you didn’t think you were even gonna get?
– Well, I have to say that my breakthrough with anger came as quite a surprise. I should’ve known better, just because of what my commitment is that I was gonna have to go there. But I didn’t even know that I didn’t know to go there, and I’ve been surprised at… Surprised at the depth of the exercises that I’m going through, and where they’re taking me. I really didn’t know before I started this semester. Now that I’m in it, I’m not surprised because there’s no other way to create what I wanna create if I don’t go there, if I don’t dig really deep. That’s what my art is about, you know? I paint from that place, so yeah, it was a surprise, and it was only a surprise because I was as clueless and still comparing myself, and trying to figure it out in my head, as I was, not realizing that the thing that comes so naturally to me, which is this process. I mean, this is how I live my life, it’s how I’ve created other businesses. It’s where I come from. Not really acknowledging and recognizing that that’s the key to creating my art business, my whole– I didn’t know, you know? But whoa, of course! How would it be any other way?
-Business is a business, right? You solve a problem for a target market, and create value that they perceive has more value than the money they wanna give you, and then they give it to you, and you get to know their friends and their network, and over 85% of your business will come by way of referral. The rules are the same.
– Yeah. But I guess what’s surprising when I think about business, I don’t think about the emotional process that it’s taking me. I didn’t expect that the creating-my-art business would take the same kind of process that it takes to create my art.
– But it does, you know? The same place I have to go to channel my art is where I have to go to create my business.
– I’ll quote my friend Doctor E, which is “Every entrepreneur is an artist, and every artist “is an entrepreneur.”
– So you get that now.
– Why did I not– I think I had such a block-up to art and business because I didn’t think it was possible for me. Really, I mean, that was my…
– Well, yeah. If you had that belief…
– And you know, I didn’t think it was possible!
– Yeah, with the belief that it wasn’t possible
– then of course it’s not going to be possible.
– Yeah. So, sitting with that belief, of course it wouldn’t occur to me, you know, all the things that we’re talking about because I was steeped in that belief. Trying to fight it, but it’s what I really believed to be true.
– That’s so, but– Isn’t that great to acknowledge that? I bet that’s gotta be freeing as all, you know.
– It’s very freeing, very freeing. This whole process is very freeing for me.
– I knew… I knew when I signed up it was exactly what I needed to do. I could just feel it, I knew. I didn’t know the specifics, but I just… I just felt it.
– Yeah, trust your gut! Always.
– Yeah! And I’m learning that I can trust my gut in so many areas that I didn’t trust my gut before, you know? And that’s why I’m not, like I’m… I’m feeling a little quote unquote stuck right now in the 28-day process, but not really stuck; I’m just, you know, things are simmering, and–
– You have to cook. You’ve gotta give ’em cooking time.
– Sometimes. Sometimes with me, in order to go deeper, things have to cook a little longer.
– Yeah. Everybody’s different, it dips, so you gotta go at your own pace. That’s why I don’t kick people out and say all right, we’re done. I say go at your own pace, and people, students, will sometimes say, I’m feeling behind. I’m like, what the hell are you talking about? There’s no deadline here. You’re in charge of your schedule, not– I’m not imposing anything on you. You need to just choose a pace that works for you, but there’s no– it’s not a race here, trying to hurry up and learn how to paint.
– Good luck! It’s, good lord, your paintings are going to be horrible looking if you’re hurrying up to learn how to paint. You just gotta trust the process. The process works. I’ve done it for over a decade now with other, not just myself, but with other artists. It works if you do the work.
– But you gotta be doing it. And you can’t, you know… and when you get feeling stuck or feeling pissed or feeling frustrated, that’s inevitable, you’re human, but the key is not to tolerate it, those emotions, that emotional state is not productive, so you can’t tolerate it for too long, and then use the tools that are available, either the tools that I’m teaching, or some other damn tool, it doesn’t matter. Just learn to pull yourself out of a funk.
– And get back on track as soon as you are aware that you are off track. That’s the key. But don’t beat yourself up for feeling frustrated. We all get frustrated, we all get stuck, we all take– Sometimes things take longer than we want them to take, but that’s all right, no big deal. It’s not a big deal.
– I realized too that the frustration and the– I get this sort of veil of confusion that comes over me, and years and years ago I learned that confusion is a very high state. It means that you’re very close to something, usually some kind of a breakthrough, and your ego just doesn’t want you to get there, you know? So it’s throwing this blanket over you so that you can’t see clearly. So I just go and do something that frees up my mind, like paint, where I can’t think, I just have to feel, and usually things start moving again, because my ego’s not involved in my painting. It comes from my soul, and that’s really where the answers are coming from. So I don’t listen to the confusion so much anymore. I get, like that’s what I was saying, I’ve learned to trust that it’s just part of the process and my old programming is gonna kick in, and my ego’s gonna kick in, and it’s all gonna be trying to keep me in this place of not succeeding.
– But when you built other businesses before, right?
– And you’ve been… This is not new, you know what to do.
– Yeah. Yeah, and I’m doing it a lot better this time,
– Good. than other businesses I built, because it’s coming from a different place.
– Thank you so much for sharing so openly, and for being so active and generous in the Facebook group. I can see that you acknowledge that you’ve received support; obviously you’re giving support, and I want that community to be a really strong safe place for artists so when I’m gone you are left with a support network that you can depend upon. That’s my intention, so it only works though if people like you are participating. So thank you very much for helping create that community and for just taking the time out of your day and dealing with all the back and forth to set this up. I really appreciate it.
– You’re very welcome. I appreciate it too, and I appreciate you. Thank you for giving us this opportunity, and creating this amazing program, because you’re changing lives, which I know is what you wanted to do, but I’m just letting you know you’re actually doing it.
– Aww. Thank you, that makes me feel so good. Thank you.
– Well, the other thing that I’ve learned, Ann, is how essential it is to take in acknowledgement, that I didn’t use to let myself feel acknowledged. So, giving it comes naturally to me when I really appreciate something or someone, it hasn’t come naturally to receive it, and I’m learning that more in this program to open myself up to receiving the acknowledgement because that honors who I am and what I have to offer.
– And doesn’t it, when you sell a piece of art, doesn’t it feel like the ultimate acknowledgement?
– Yeah, it really does. It really does, and I’m looking forward to selling a lot more.
– Me too, I’m looking forward to you doing that too, because I want to interview you on Thriving Artists series, where you’re gonna be talking about it.
– Sounds good.
– All right, thank you so much, Deborah.
– Well, thank you, Ann. Have a great day.
– Thank you, bye.
“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol Apply Now
WHERE TO START TO SELL YOUR ART
"Learn The 8-Part Road Map that I used to sell $103,246 of my art during my first year as an unknown artist, without feeling like a sell-out"
- Ann Rea, Artist Mentor