Artist: Rochelle Fox; New York, New York, USA
QUESTION: What was your top challenge?
Rochelle Fox: Knowing how to reach my audience and to connect with them about my work.
QUESTION: What did you need to learn?
Rochelle Fox: I’m very confident with the work that I’m doing, but when it comes to the selling piece of it, I think that’s where I really needed a lot of help.
QUESTION: What changed?
Rochelle Fox: This really helped me to laser focus in on a very clear and concise messaging and then from there, the selling piece of it is more of how to have the conversation when it comes to actually selling the artwork.
QUESTION: What do you do?
Rochelle Fox: Along with my artwork, I have started hosting creative workshop.
QUESTION: How did this start?
Rochelle Fox: It started out as something kind of small that I began doing with friends and more recently I’ve expanded it to people that I don’t know. And that’s where I was saying on the Facebook page that this whole course has helped me so much with going beyond people that I know because they know me really well and they know what I’m about and they know my energy and what I’m providing. And I don’t really have to explain it too much because they’re around me all the time. But this really helped me to put it into words so that I could create a post on Instagram, let’s say, or post it, you know, anywhere on social media and have people reach out to me and be really interested based on how I was describing the event.
QUESTION: How are you reaching more people?
Rochelle Fox: Really getting clear on the messaging so that they understood what my vibe was, who I’m trying to reach, you know, it’s like you said, it’s not for everyone. So it’s a pretty specific group. And I found that the clearer I got about that, the more I was really getting response from the people I was trying to reach.
QUESTION: Why was it a success?
Rochelle Fox: They were just so connected with the messaging more than anything else. It really went beyond the artwork, you know, I mean it was a creative workshop, but people really connected with the whole reason why I created it in the first place.
QUESTION: What was different?
Rochelle Fox: I was able to connect with people on a deeper level besides ‘we’re just having fun doing art’, and for me that, that was really huge.
QUESTION: Why does your mission matter?
Rochelle Fox: I have a fear of public speaking, for example, right, and it’s hard for me to talk in front of groups, but at my workshops, which, you know, there was like 14 people here, (including the assistants and stuff) I did not feel nervous at all talking to people in the group because I was so connected to what I was saying that it didn’t feel forced. It didn’t feel like a speech. It was just coming from my heart. And that to me was a huge lesson because until you really connect with that, you’re going to be nervous about it because you’re not really sure of what you’re saying.
QUESTION: Why do you need like-minded artists?
Rochelle Fox: Actually having study partners for me has probably been the best part of the whole thing really because you can study on your own as much as you want, but it’s not until you really start bouncing these ideas off of people and getting their feedback that it really starts to come to life. And just a couple of weeks ago had a session with one of my partners and she asked the question about my Why and just the right way that added so much more clarity that by the time the workshop came I really knew what I was trying to say. And like I said, it wasn’t a cliche generic statement. It was very specific to why I create and what it is that I’m connecting with on a deep level.
QUESTION: How did your messaging change?
Rochelle Fox: And I think before too, I was focused more on telling people where the inspiration behind the specific pieces came from.
Ann Rea: No one cares.
Rochelle Fox: No one cares, that doesn’t connect with anyone. Let’s be real.
QUESTION: What else changed?
Rochelle Fox: Create not only the work from a place of openness and really bringing that energy into the sales side of it too. ‘Cause I think for me the art was always very easy and I can be in the flow and not worry about what’s happening and the moment the money part comes in, I just sort of get scared and I think, how will this ever support me? And so I think the shift is a mindset piece for, what you were saying before that “you can hit someone over the head 100 times saying that this is easy, but they’re filtering it through the mindset: This is hard”
QUESTION: What’s your advice for other artists?
Rochelle Fox: Get going with it starts somewhere, make your first sale and then get the referral and keep going.
QUESTION: How have your sales changed?
Rochelle Fox: Like when you deliver on something, it becomes easier too, because the first workshop I felt like I was really having to sell it to people like ‘please come support me. I’ve never done one before. You have to come like I’m desperate’. And by this last one we were sold out and I almost had to turn people away.
QUESTION: How does selling feel now?
Rochelle Fox: It felt so good to know that there were people that were potentially worried they wouldn’t get into it, which is such a different energy than me being desperate to find people to show up. And half of the people, at least, were like, please, invite me again. I will bring a friend, you know, I want to come to the next thing. And so like you said, you know you, you gain their trust and you show them the product and that sort of speaks for itself. And then of course they want to keep supporting you and bring in other people. So it started to feel a lot more natural for me than it did in the beginning.
QUESTION: Why must an artist know their purpose?
Rochelle Fox: It’s really about connecting with why you’re creating in the first place so that you can explain that mission to people because the fact is you might change mediums over time. You might even change a little bit of your style, but if you are connected with why you’re doing it in the first place, most of the conversations I’ve had with people, whether it’s a networking event or just meeting a friend through a friend, and when they asked me what I do, I don’t even talk about the art. I just talk about what I’m up to and what I’m interested in and why I’m so passionate about these things. Because the art, the workshops, I see that it’s all one in the same and they get so excited about what I’m passionate about that then they say, “oh, I’d love to see it”. So instead of me pulling out my phone, which is probably what I would have done before, and said, let me show you the work I do and let them zoom in and you know, and see the details and you’ve lost them in the beginning because it doesn’t feel very authentic to say, ‘look what I did’ you know? And it’s almost like the mission is what draws people in to then say, let me go see what you’re up to. Let me check out your website. Let me see. So you’re gaining their interest before they’ve even seen anything.
QUESTION: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Rochelle Fox: Recently somebody asked me, “how do you want someone to feel when they leave your workshop?”
Ann Rea: That’s a very good question.
Rochelle Fox: Instead of thinking about the art project that we were doing, which was a collaboration, so I didn’t really have to worry too much about that piece of it, but I really wanted to hone in on the energy of the event and to know what I wanted the people to feel when they left.
Ann Rea: That’s your product!
Rochelle Fox: And that’s your product. Exactly.
QUESTION: What other courses have you studied?
Rochelle Fox: It did B-School. I didn’t finish it. And then
Ann Rea: B-School is not designed, it’s not designed for artists.
Rochelle Fox: Right. So I didn’t really find that to be as helpful. I’ve taken a bunch of Instagram specific courses because I know that they say that that’s really good for artisan. It was helpful to learn a lot of that stuff, but it wasn’t as good at honing in on my messaging. It helped me make things look pretty and look marketable. And I’m a graphic designer so I can make things look nice, but I didn’t really… I wasn’t able to put it all together in a way that made sense to me before.
QUESTION: Should other artists apply?
Rochelle Fox: I would honestly say coming from a person who’s taken a lot of online courses trying to figure this stuff out, and I mean a lot, both business and art related courses. I would say that for me, I have told so many people this, it has been invaluable if for nothing else, the people that I have met in this group are truly my friends now. I’ve met people in New York, one person that lives around the corner. I mean I have expanded my network of artists and people that genuinely support my mission and have helped me along the way. And that accountability, when you take an online course and there’s no accountability, you’re not very likely to finish. And even though they have Facebook groups and all that, the ability to connect with people, you know, whether it’s once a week or once a month and they check in and they see how you’re doing; that’s what has kept me going more than anything else. And I feel like that’s what makes this so successful is the conversation that comes out of it on top of the idea that you’re stressing the mindset piece, which I really believe in. Because you can learn all the facts you want, if you’re not in the right place to do it, you know, believing in yourself and getting over the money issues, it’s not going to come together. And so I would say for me, it’s not even a question. You know, in the beginning I was like, oh my God, another course. I’ve done so many. But looking back now, I would say it’s 100% invaluable.
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- Ann Rea, Artist Mentor