Artist and Painter: Linzy Arnott; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Ann Rea: So this is Ann Rea coming to you from San Francisco, California, and I have Linzy Arnott, darn it. Coming to you from Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a Canadian artists, a painter specifically, and she actually just enrolled in this semester, but when we did our application call Linzy shared a story with me that I hear way too much. So in summary, I won’t get into all the gory details, but Linzy’s a pretty successful painter. She supports her family and does pretty well, but unfortunately, there is at least one gallery that took $30,000 and all of your inventory and they went bankrupt. So she’s going to have a hard time seeing that. So she is very successful within the art establishment model, but as I teach artists; one of two things can often happen. So even if you do find success, one of two things will very often happened to the artists. Number one, they’ll fall out of favor. That means another artist who has more marketable work will come along and displace you, just like merchandise in a store, it doesn’t always sell forever. The other thing that can happen is the gallery can go bankrupt or go out of business or just not honor their terms. So the informal statistic on the street is that since the recession around 2008 about half of the galleries within the United States have closed their doors. So it’s not a good model to bank on in the long run. So that’s just, that’s my perspective, but I say that all the time.I want to hear Linzy’s perspective.
QUESTION: So did I describe accurately what happened? Correct me if I’m wrong.
Linzy Arnott: Sorry, you cut out there.
Ann Rea: Oh, so Linzy, I just asked if I described what happened to you accurately when you said that you lost a pretty sizeable chunk of money and inventory, is that what happened?
Linzy Arnott: Yes. And the gallery has not officially gone bankrupt, however, they are saying that is what’s happening and their house is on foreclosure and all that. So what is happening? And this has happened actually seven of the eight galleries that I have been represented by.
Ann Rea: Yeah, so what a lot of artists don’t know is that artist galleries and gallery owners struggle mightily.
Linzy Arnott: Yeah. And actually in speaking to a debt collector about the situation, what they said was, “oh yeah, you know, the galleries, they rob Paul to pay Peter” or however it goes, so it’s like even the debt collectors know that this is a common thing,
Ann Rea: Which is sad because it almost gives them permission to steal because essentially that’s what they did. They stole. That money, never belonged to them, and they’ve obviously spent it. That inventory belonged to you, it never belonged to them, you obviously consigned, it never belonged to them in the first place. It’s not like a store that buys inventory and then they own it. That’s not the arrangement. They don’t. So I’m sorry to hear that. What I want to ask you now is;
QUESTION: I want you to think about the lessons that you learned from the experience and what would you say is the number one lesson that you learned from this whole experience?
Linzy Arnott: So many.
Ann Rea: Whatever pops in your head. Whatever you think of like whatever pops into your head first.
Linzy Arnott: I think the biggest lesson would be to stand up for myself. I was such a pushover at the beginning and I allowed this to happen month after month, year after year and I should have been strong enough to say no more. I’m not giving you any more art until you pay what you owe. I’m not doing commissions. I think that that’s been my biggest growth is just standing up for myself and saying, enough is enough.
Ann Rea: Good for you.
Linzy Arnott: I’ve actually turned down commissions where I’ve told the galleries that if you want a commission, I’m happy to do it, as long as my 50% is in my hand before the commission leaves my studio and I have not had a single commission since then.
Ann Rea: Good for you. So number one, your number one lesson is that you’ve learned to stand up for yourself and to draw very clear and healthy and specific boundaries around how you do business. That’s fantastic. That’s something that you will carry it forward now.
QUESTION: So what’s the second biggest lesson that pops into your head from this experience?
Linzy Arnott: To have my own contracts. I actually, I called the FBI, a friend of mine suggested that I do that.
Ann Rea: I love it.
Linzy Arnott: Debt collectors take a huge chunk. You can hire a lawyer and sue that costs a lot of money up front. But the FBI, this is their job. So I called and they gave me some very good advice on what to look for and it’s been great to have the help. And of course, I didn’t have any of these things in my contract and the galleries didn’t have it in their either. I now know the specific things that need to be written in there. Do you want me to share what they are?
Ann Rea: Yeah,
Question: What did the FBI tell you needs to be in the contracts specifically?
Linzy Arnott: So the galleries have their own contract, but artists can also have their own contract that the gallery signs.
Ann Rea: Yes. I tell people that all the time!
Linzy Arnott: Yes. You need to have that if you’re going this route. So what the FBI agent said is, what happens when payments are late? How far does it go before you do something? Are you going to charge interest? Are you going to hire a debt collector or a lawyer? What is the action that you’re going to take?
Ann Rea: You have to have the terms and the conditions. So you spell out what’s going to happen if you don’t play by the rules, what’s going to happen? What’s going to go down? So very good.
Question: What else did they say?
Linzy Arnott: What do you want to know when painting sell? When do you want your inventory updates/sales updates? Because I promise you if the galleries are struggling, they’re not going to tell you when your art is selling. And that’s what happened with this last gallery. I went almost a year of them telling me nothing’s selling, nothing is selling. Then I find out they’ve sold over 60 grand of art and I haven’t received any of it. Like; you’re supporting your family with this and they…
Ann Rea: So Linzy supports her family. So Linzy husband takes care of your child and is a stay at home dad. And so they not only stole from Linzy, they stole from her husband and her little girl.
Linzy Arnott: And I think that’s when I really stepped up. Like my mama bear came out and I’m like, I have a mortgage, I have food to put on the table for my daughter. Like this is not okay. Some of the galleries have gotten personal, like if they pay me a small portion of what they owe me and they think that that’s enough to them. That same story. I have a mortgage, I have food to put on the table for my daughter. And this one gallery owner said, “well, how much food does your daughter need”?
Ann Rea: What?
Linzy Arnott: They’ve paid me nice chunks so that you go, oh well…
Ann Rea: Wow!
Linzy Arnott: Yeah, it’s the moral view of it. Like if you owe me this money, you pay it, you know.
Ann Rea: That’s right. Okay, so what I’d like you to do, if you don’t mind, would you email me the specifics that FBI agent suggested you put into your contract? And then we can share that with other artists so that they can review their contracts and take a look at some of these suggestions. So that’s fantastic. So this number two lesson just sounds like understanding that you have every right and you should absolutely have a contract. So contracts are not one way. They have their terms, the gallery has their terms and conditions, which they have every right to enforce. And you have every right to do the same thing because they don’t own your inventory. They don’t own anything. So that’s great.
QUESTION: Now, what’s the number three lesson that just kind of pops into your head from his whole experience?
Linzy Arnott: Be open minded because I impressioned that the only way to become a successful artists was to have gallery representation. It’s like, I think that’s why when I realized I was done in this system that I was so heartbroken. I wasn’t considering that there was even an alternative. So I’d say just to be open minded and if something doesn’t work, there’s another road, so you just have to look for it and listen to those things that are already inside you
Ann Rea: And trust yourself. Really Trust yourself and stand up for yourself. When I moved to San Francisco to be a full time artist, shortly after that I actually fired all of the representatives that I worked with and it was more something because some of them were dirty, rotten scoundrels like you described, that was one of the reasons (and you know who you are, you’re listening, I know you listen to me, you son of a gun). And then, the other reason was just simply because I created value so far above and beyond my art that a gallery just wasn’t even a quipped, and an art representative wasn’t even equipped to sell the program that I had created, which was way more than just painting.
Linzy Arnott: Ann you’re cutting out again,
Ann Rea: There’s just lots of limitations with the gallery model. They sell a very limited value proposition and you can create much more value for your target market outside of that structure. So that’s what I’m hoping that you will be able to create for yourself, Linzy, by being a semester a student in the Making Art Making Money Program. That’s my intention that you’ll be able to create value way above and beyond your art, and you don’t have to worry as much about these things, but it does take time to build the business, right?
Linzy Arnott: I will.
Ann Rea: Yeah, you will. That’s right. So just by the way you said that you can tell your attitude is really clear, decisive and positive. That’s the best indication that an artist is going to be successful. You can tell Linzy’s determined she’s had enough of this shit, she’s going to make it right. Getting really pissed off actually can be a beautiful opening to a whole new way of being, a whole new set of opportunities. So congratulations on getting pissed off Linzy.
QUESTION: Now what I’d like you to do is if you could give other artists one piece of parting advice, what would you tell them to do?
Linzy Arnott: Oh Gosh. I’d say just don’t give up. I feel like all artists have this inner fire to create and if you have that, you have to express it. I heard this saying once; when you have this urge to create any you don’t do it, it’s the equivalent of committing a slow suicide.
Ann Rea: No, I relate to that one. So if you have the urge to create and you ignore it, it’s like committing a slow suicide. I’m proof of that. I almost, you know, I felt that for a long time, so that’s fantastic advice. All right. So that’s it for ‘lessons learned by Linzy’, learn from her lessons and thank you for being willing to share what you learned and congratulations and welcome to the Making Art Making Money program. I’m really looking forward to having you, I can already see you got a huge warm welcome in the Facebook group, so that’s nice.
Linzy Arnott: You’re cutting out again Ann, sorry.
Ann Rea: I just said I congratulate you for learning these lessons and I wanted to just say, it seems like you just got a really big, warm welcome the other day in the Making Art Making Money program.
Linzy Arnott: Yeah.
Ann Rea: Great. Thank you so much.
Linzy Arnott: I’m so excited.
Ann Rea: Take care.
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