QUESTION: Artist: Robin Wellner; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
QUESTION: What were your challenges?
Robin Wellner: One was defining my real direction with my artwork.
QUESTION: What was your other challenge?
Robin Wellner: The other is just making it a more viable career, taking it to another level
Ann Rea: Career? Is it a career?
Robin Wellner: Well, no,
Ann Rea: It’s not a career, what is it? Because if it was a career you would get a paycheck, right? If it’s not a career, what is it?
Robin Wellner: I mean, it’s my passion. It’s what I want to do with my life. You’re looking for an answer that I don’t know what you’re looking for.
Ann Rea: You don’t have a career as a fine artist. No one does you have a business.
Robin Wellner: Okay.
Ann Rea: This is really, really important because if you call something a career and it’s not, and it’s never going to be, you’re going to behave differently, but when you understand that it’s a business and you don’t have to believe me, ask the IRS, you don’t get a W2.
Robin Wellner: You’re right.
Ann Rea: You have to file a profit and loss statement like a business with the IRS every year. So this is very fundamental understanding, it just goes over artists head and they wonder like, why am I struggling so hard? Because you don’t even know that you– so imagine like if someone didn’t even know they owned a business, how well are they going to do in business?
QUESTION: What just happened?
Ann Rea: Robin says, “I’m new to the process and in the beginning of Course 02”. So there’s eight courses everybody, she’s in Course 02. “I’ve been practicing the steps in the Code to Joy daily”. That’s a 4 minute daily exercise that my students do. “And for me the issue has been being worthy. Well out of the blue…” it’s never out of the blue. “…I’ve got wonderful portrait commission, the deposit pays for this course”. So she is in Course 02 of 08, and she’s already paid for the tuition. That’s a big deal. And she said, “Yay. I know it seems random on the surface, but I believe that if I can truly change my beliefs to feeling worthy of success, that will come easily. Deciding to call this a sign that I’ve shifted and will continue to modify my belief that I’m worthy of true success”. Of course you are worthy of true success. I don’t let people in who are not, but this is a really good thing to talk about because a lot of artists don’t feel worthy. And I think that my big… Obviously I have a program called Making Art Making Money, but I think my bigger job is to help artists understand that they’re worthy and to take their power back. I think that’s my bigger job.
QUESTION: Why didn’t you feel worthy?
Robin Wellner: I think there are a lot of other artists who can identify with that ‘imposter syndrome’; you know, I’m never good enough. So there there’s been a lot of that. It’s easy to compare myself to other artists. There’s always somebody better. There’s a voice in your head or my head that goes; “okay, well I won’t be worthy until I reached that level”. And you never can reach that level because there’s always another level beyond that. I’d always, not always, but I believe that the way I think and my own beliefs have a lot more to do with it than anything. Unless I believe it subconsciously, it won’t matter what the hell I do.
QUESTION: What’s changed?
Robin Wellner: I’ve started teaching. I’m a portrait painter and I’ve started teaching portrait painting, but it’s only recently that I felt good enough, worthy enough or whatever to make that leap.
QUESTION: How did you decide?
Robin Wellner: Part of it was me feeling good enough about my skills. Part of it was just my learning and continuing to learn until I got to a point where I felt like, yes, I have something to offer. I had to prove it to myself first and then I felt like I have something to give.
QUESTION: What helped you?
Robin Wellner: Getting enough recognition from the outside world that I had something that I was good enough.
QUESTION: How does it feel to have already earned back more than your tuition?
Robin Wellner: Awesome!
QUESTION: What else has helped?
Robin Wellner: The remembering process. I loved that process.
Ann Rea: Oh did you?! Wasn’t that fun?
Robin Wellner: Well, and what was really weird is I found that book right before I enrolled in your course. And then I found that he was part of it. It was like, oh my God, this is so weird. Serendipitous.
QUESTION: What do artists need to know?
Robin Wellner: We need to do that shifting inside first and recognize really who we are and build on that before we’re going to know the next step. Instead of “Oh, let’s see this marketing rule and get this email list, and be on social media, all that stuff”, which is all I think probably important down the line, but until you make the shift in terms of feeling worthy or whatever your issues are, it doesn’t matter what you do with the other stuff.
QUESTION: What were you like before?
Robin Wellner: I did operate under a lot of fear about making it. That affected everything I did and what I even painted or chose to paint, so it’s taken me a lot longer to get back to what I really want to do because I was so busy. Oh, okay. Here it is. I was so busy trying to please everybody else but me.
QUESTION: What would you tell other artists?
Robin Wellner: Trust yourself, follow your own inner guidance. Know that there’s always going to be somebody better and always somebody worse and you have a unique thing to offer the world. It’s your unique voice and follow whatever it takes to find that.
QUESTION: An artists “product” is emotion.
Robin Wellner: I mean some of those gems, even just that right there has already started to shift the way, even though, part of my hesitancy is I’m not very far in the program, but those pieces, like what I’m selling is emotion and it’s already started to shift the way I think about my art and perhaps the direction it goes. I think they’re big pieces.
QUESTION: Has this changed your perspective?
Robin Wellner: It’s so interesting because I went to an art opening since joining, just last Friday, and after starting this work, looking at her work was such a different experience and seeing people react and there was a very visceral, emotional reaction to her work. And I had a similar reaction to her work, but I had such a different clarity about that. Knowing what I know now.
QUESTION: Should other artists apply to enroll in the program?
Robin Wellner: I think it’s just a whole different approach. I’m still in the beginnings phases of it, but it’s already been effective for me, so I can only say go for it. It’s definitely not your cookie cutter business course. Not at all.
Making Art Making Money
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- Ann Rea, Artist Mentor