Last week, I had the privilege of hosting a one-hour Q&A session with Ann Rea, a successful artist and entrepreneur who is devoted to destroying the myth of the “starving artist.”
Our audience members submitted so many great questions that had to do with how to turn a creative passion into a profitable business. Other questions from our session included:
- What’s the best way to decide what to work on first if you have multiple interests?
- How do you price your products?
- Who should I market to first?
- I’m a songwriter but have not recorded, where do I even begin?
There were plenty more questions during the webinar, and you can watch the recorded video above or read the transcript below. To learn more about Ann, visit her website: ArtistsWhoThrive.com
Read the transcript:
Jonathan: Thank you for joining us today at this Bplan’s webinar. My name is Jonathan Michael. I’m the Community Manager for Bplans.com. We’re so excited to have you here today with us for our question-and-answer session with Ann Rea. Ann Rea is on a personal mission to destroy the myths of the starving artist. She and her inspired business approach had been featured on HDTV, the Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields, in Fortune, and the Wine Enthusiast magazines, and profiled in the book Career Renegade. She is a popular instructor on Creative Live. Her artistic talent is commended by American art icon Wayne Thiebaud. She has a growing list of collectors across North America and Europe. Thank you for being here, and welcome.
Ann: Oh, thank you very much, Jonathan. I appreciate the opportunity. This is going to be fun. We surveyed a number of you and gathered wonderful questions, and a lot of them are commonly asked questions. That’s what we’re going to focus on today. Jonathan is going to feed me a question, and I’m going to do my very best to answer it for you. I’m a painter. Let me just tell you this is really applicable to any creator, who is building a business.
I’ve worked with other painters. I’ve also worked with illustrators. I’ve worked with musicians, jewelry designers. It’s interesting enough when I do speak engagements like massage therapist show up. I think if you think identity as a creator, and feeling a little bit of disconnect with the business side, I am here to translate between the two worlds.
Jonathan: Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. Just for everybody who is in attendance today, we do have some questions that people have already submitted when they registered for the webinar. If you’d like to ask a question, all of our attendees are currently muted. The way you’re going to ask questions is you will notice a questions tab with the webinar application. You can write in your questions and click “Submit.” What I’ll do is I’ll moderate those questions, and find great ones to pass forward to Ann. Keep your questions coming all throughout today. I’ll do my best to get them all in. All right, we’re ready to start?
Ann: I’m ready.
Jonathan: Okay, let’s kick it off. Ann, the first question that I wanted to ask you today is how do you further your art career?
Ann: Great question. First thing I do is question the question.
Ann: Okay, because I don’t believe artists have a career. They don’t have a career. They have a business. Why do I say that? This is an important thing to understand. It’s a matter of perspective and mindset. The practical manner is this, if you had a career, you’d have a job, which means you get a W-2, you have a retirement plan, [inaudible 00:03:09] parking space. You don’t get a job as a fine artist or as most creators are writing…Even if you were a creator, and you have a job, it’s usually a short-term gain.
If you run things like a job, like if you have a career, you are not going to do what you need to do to build the business and to make yourself marketable. That’s the first thing. It’s really understanding the difference between the two. We’ve been told that we have careers. We present resumes and exhibition list. It’s really not relevant to a business. Really the best place to start is to write a business plan. Honestly, that’s what I did. That’s how I did it.
Jonathan: Okay. When you’re writing that business plans, lot of questions that came through today how to do with, how do I define my market, my niche, who do I market to? Bill Hunt brought that question.
Ann: Great. Great question. Yeah, a lot of artists will start with the question with how do I define my niche, my market niche, or how do I find collectors, how do I find caterings or customer? You really can’t answer that question until you’ve answered other questions. I’m going to break this down for you. The first question you really have to have a solid answer for is, what is your creative purpose? What’s your “Why?” Simon Sinek wrote this book, Knowing your why or something. The problem is we don’t often know how to get it our why. You really do have to know why do you paint, why are you a photographer?
Why are…It’s like…You go back, and that’s the answer. That’s the questions you usually answer like why I do this thing making music, this thing making painting, this thing making jewelry? You got to step back further from that.
Artists are thought leaders. First and foremost, you have to know who you are and what you stand for. Who you are and what you stand for? That’s the first thing you really have to know. Why is that relevant therapy find your niche? Because depending on who you are and who you stand for, and also what you stand against, that will determine who is going to be your target market. Who is going to vibe after you? Who is going to resonate with you? In answer to that question, you really have to know your “Why.” You have to know who you are and what you stand for. Then secondly, you have to know what problem is there in the world that you believe is really wroth solving.
Now, that is the essence of every business. Every business solves the problem or alleviates the pain, and make no mistake, artists do the same thing, if they’re effective, if they’re actually sustainable. Then once you know your why, once you know your what, then you’ve got to answer your how. Your how is what’s referred to as your unique value proposition. How are you going to solve that problem? Then that’s how you’re going to eat. That’s where you’re going to determine how you’re going to use your art to solve that problem. Last but not least, who has that problem? Who are you going to serve? That’s your target market. There’s a process to this, but most people, most artists will start with the question, the third question, which is what is my unique value proposition, or they’ll start with the last question, which is who is my target market?
Ann: Really you have to follow this process. This is why planning is so important. It’s essential.
Jonathan: Okay. From your experience as a successful artist, can you talk about how you answered those questions for yourself as an example so that we can see what that looks like?
Ann: Yeah, I mean it’s a long-winded story. I’ll try to keep it really short and sweet. My back story is that I went to art school, and I graduated. I worked in design for a little while. Then I quit making art for over a decade. I didn’t draw anything. I didn’t paint anything. During that time, I developed some pretty severe anxiety, and depression, and insomnia. I went back to art as a means to quell my own anxiety. I had no intension of selling anything. Never mind. I wasn’t even going to show anybody anything.
For me, what I realized it’s just a universal lesson that came from those painful times in my life is that most of the joy that we experience is by being in the moment, by savoring the moment. What did happen was that as I started…I’d actually engage in what’s an act of meditation while I was painting. What was interesting is when I did eventually start to show my work and sell my work, my collectors would say the same thing over and over again. What they would say is when I look at your paintings, I feel like happy and I feel very calm; happy and calm. Now, there’s a whole lot of people out there who need happy and calm. It’s a big problem if they don’t have it. You’d see how these things are start to winding together we know…We know who I am. You know who I am now, right. You’d probably know what I stand for. Happy and calm is really important to me, because I didn’t experience it for a good chunk of my life.
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s excellent. Thank you for that example. Absolutely that’s a great story too. It’s great to hear from where you’re coming from. Tabitha cook brought up a question. You’ve got these talents you have and you’re trying to get it to be a profitable business and even just become a business. What’s the best way to decide what to work on first, especially if you have multiple interests?
Ann: Well, again I may go back to what I said before. You have to first understand…First of all, Tabitha you won’t have this question. You don’t have this confusion of where to start with, if you understand your why. You understand who you are and what you stand for. If you understand you’re what. If you understand what mission you’re on because if you understand what problem you’re trying to solve, then you will reach for the talents and the resources that are going to more likely help you solve that problem.
That’s how you did…That’s how you will focus. That’s how you will absolutely gain focus. When you gain focus you will gain confidence. I know that a lot of creative people listen, who I speak to not certainly not everyone struggles with focus and confidence. The two are linked. You’re not going to start with confidence. Confidence is going to come by focusing and taking action. Then you’re going to earn confidence. I didn’t start of confidence. Remember I had anxiety attacks for good chuck of my life, probably a mess. It is possible. It is possible. That’s my answer to that question. Go back to that time to time again. You’ll notice pattern here.
Jonathan: Okay, great thank you. We have a question from Samantha. She wanted to know how do you know how to price a piece of art or the work that you’re producing?
Ann: Well, that’s a great question. It’s really hard to give any specific answers to you because I don’t know what it is. I don’t know who your market is. I don’t know if your market’s over saturated. I don’t know how you reach your market. I don’t know what your sales goes are like. You could have something priced fairly and you could have great marketing but you’re…You can’t close the sale. The guidance I give in a general way around this is when people sell a house, before they sell the house they’re getting an appraisal.
They look at similar houses in the same neighborhood with the same number of bedrooms. Maybe [inaudible 00:11:44] house has a pool and the other house that sold recently also have a pool. That’s a good…Really just doing an analysis of the competitive landscape. That’s the best place to start. That’s where you’d start. Then what you do is you invent ways to add more and more value, and then you can add more and more [inaudible 00:12:07]. Well, you can make the sale is easier or you can actually charge more.
Ann: I hope that helps. Hard to give a real specific answer to general, I’d say it’s like an appraisal when you go to sell your house. Just go look around for similar work, quality and…That’s the best way.
Jonathan: Yeah. You mentioned that the need to plan and create a business plan to do that strategic thinking ahead of time. There’s been a couple of questions that I wanted to ask you regarding that, which is how do you create a business plan or how do you build the plan especially, when your sales for your art are either commissioned or they happens sporadically. It’s not anything that happens on a consistent weekly basis. How do you build the plan around that?
Ann: You absolutely can build the plan around that. Just because you sell something via commission versus ready-made, it doesn’t matter. If it’s happening sporadically, that’s a really good indication that you need a plan because you can have…You can build…You can write a plan and take focused action so that it’s happening consistently in your [technical error]. You need a plan…You absolutely need a plan and a goal too. Let me just back up with…My business plan was completely half-baked, I’m going to tell you right now. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t. Perfectly happy to tell you I didn’t know what I was doing. Here’s what I did, no I wanted; I knew that I wanted to make a $100,000 within the first year. Then I backed in right from there. I was like, “Okay. Well, how the hell can I do that?” I’m just swore on LivePlan, sorry about that.
Jonathan: We could add later.
Ann: That was like…Then truly was my first requirement because I just moved to San Francisco. It’s hell of expensive here. It’s more expensive now. Then I…That was the goal…Everything had to work towards this end goal. That’s how I did it. I think that’s a good place to do it. Like to determine how much money do you want to make at a minimum and work backwards.
Jonathan: All right. Thanks for that answer. Yeah, let me pull up another question here. Doug Belding had an interesting question. He asked what tactics in today’s market place can get a new artist entrepreneur to be a stand out aside from their body of work.
Ann: I’m not sure you really understand that question which says stand out?
Jonathan: Is there something that you need to do, because maybe your art or you want your art to speak for itself, but I’m wondering …
Ann: Okay. Hold on. Hold on. Okay. I want to start right there. Art speaking for themselves, what the hell does that mean? I am so tired of using meaninglessly…Meaningless and foggy terms that we through around and assume everyone knows what the hell you are talking about. Speak for itself, what does that mean? Nothing…What does that mean, speak for itself? Look here is the thing, selling art sucks, let me tell you all right now, it sucks. It does, you don’t want to sell art because you are not talented enough and I am not talented enough, really I am dead serious. What you want to do is you want to create value of above and beyond your art itself, and that’s what you want to sell, what’s what you want to lead with.
If you want to sell art for art sake, you need to find yourself a gallery, and good luck doing that by the way, people are getting paid by the way. If you don’t want to bother with any of this, then it just want to make, what you want to make, when you want to make it, how you want to make it with no thought or consideration to what value it provides for a target market, then you got to find yourself representative and I…God bless you, I hope you do, I don’t think you will.
Jonathan: Okay. Those are some tough words, now…
Ann: The reason I am so passionate and tough about this, Jonathan, is because artist are injured by living under an illusion that somehow magically discovered one day, that’s a lie. That’s a big, big lie, it looks like, I mean think people think I got discovered, trust me no one discovered me. I worked my ass off, and it was very deliberate and I was very strategic and I was very clear that it wasn’t about me and it wasn’t about my career process or my artist statement. It was about how I serve the target market and that’s how I got paid and that’s the only way you will get paid in this life. I can make this argument by looking at artist throughout history but truly I am being, these are like…It’s like tough love, it’s so if you are living under the illusion that somehow you get discovered, please don’t believe it, it’s not true, even if…I actually have the art…Actually have the contract for American Idol.
Ann: Oh, yeah I do. I’m supposed to have it, it’s illegal for me to have it, but I have got it. It’s intend…It’s basically you have to sign away everything and it’s a denture servitude. Actually, a friend is a very talented vocalist and he showed it to me and I am like…He said, “They called me back for the audition.” I am like, “You can’t go. This is verbal.” Like all his modeling money, you could have to give it to them you can’t…It didn’t work, it was ridiculous. That’s what discover…That’s what getting discovered looks like signing over your life. These are not scenario.
Jonathan: Okay. If it’s not this illusion that your art has to speak for itself and things like that, correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think that you are saying that as an artist you can get away without having a unique voice and a unique style is that right?
Ann: Absolutely must…Absolutely, yes but that is not enough. Let me give you an analogy. Jonathan just pretend you are interviewing me for a job, okay.
Ann: Just pretend. I am not wearing this on t-shirt, I am actually all dressed for the job right, I have a very nice briefcase, I look like a great candidate, just pretend right. I still have to got to answer your questions.
Ann: If I said you are mute…if I said you are mute, that would be speaking for myself, would you hire me just based on me sitting here, looking like I am ready for the job without ever, without me ever speaking.
Jonathan: No I would definitely want to see what you know and what you have done.
Ann: Right, if I could indeed add value to your organization.
Ann: If I would be able to solve the problem that you have on your team or alleviate…Problem or alleviate a pain that you have been coping with in your organization right…You have to be able to speak to that very directly and convincingly…Apart.
Jonathan: We are clear you need a style, you need a unique voice, you’ve got…That has to be displayed in the work that you produce but then beyond the work that you produce you as a person communicating. What it is? The problem that you are solving and things like that especially with the new medium out there, being able to get your voice out and present them more to people. How much does that play into it of putting yourself in the forefront?
Ann: It’s huge, it’s like every business, it’s not…Selling art is a business, it’s a big, big business and it’s not…It doesn’t…It has a same requirement for success like any other business whether you are…If you are plumber, if you are a tree trimmer, it’s all you still have to…Here is a…You still have to master, you have to master your craft or master your trade or master your expertise. No matter what business you are in, that is the minimum price of admission. Of course you do. Of course you need to understand your craft, your trade, your expertise or product line; absolutely. After that, the engines that are going to drive the business are going to be sales and marketing and there is no business on earth that doesn’t have to master sales and marketing. You want to sell, you have to understand sales and marketing.
Jonathan: Okay, I am going to come back to Doug’s question on this because perhaps maybe this is what he was trying to get at is okay I have got the work that I have created and I want to take that next step of going out into the market place but I know that there is some things that I need to do to put myself front and center, do you have a couple of tactics that you would suggest of where an artist can go to put themselves out there.
Ann: Well when you say put yourself out there. That itself is another one of those foggy terms that confuse people, put myself out there, get exposure, art speak for itself like those are all like creepy, hard to understand phrases. I am going to bring it back, I am going to bring it back and say what’s this gentleman name, who have bravely asked the question?
Jonathan: Doug, although I am probably butchering the question.
Ann: Doug. Doug, I would say what’s your “Why,” who are you and what…Who are you and what you stand for right, look let me give you a real life example, it’s called LivePlan right.
Ann: Do you think that art establishment a group of gallery organization is going to wind here for me? Do you think they would ever put me on a damn webinar, I mean ever in a million years? No. They wouldn’t because I stand against the scarcity and permission based art establishment. I know who I am and I know who I stand for and I know what I stand against. I am going to repel those folks. That’s fine. See, you got to know who you are and what you stand for Doug that’s the first thing and that’s the really important thing. It’s more important in the case of a creative and that means graphic designers, illustrators, jewelry designers, they really have to know who they are and what they stand for because their product, their art is a reflection of themselves, okay.
It’s much more important, Jonathan, I don’t feel like the CEO of your company. They really need to know as much I mean they do have to understand their values, but they don’t really have to know as much, they can still sell the software without having a really strong sense of self right. That’s the first thing, Doug. Then secondly, okay, then now that you know who you are and what you stand for what problem is there in the world that is worth solving, what mission are you on? Let me give you an example, I will give you an example of one of my artist’s clients, because I think I am…We’ll be explaining this in a way that’s too abstract. I am going to give you a very practical and relatable example.
Ann: It’s a young woman in Memphis, Tennessee, who is a children’s portrait painter. When she first came to me she was called herself a portrait painter. I said, “Well, what kind of portraits do you paint?” She said, “Well, I paint portraits of adults and children,” I said, “Hold on. Okay, let’s niche this down. Do you like painting portraits of children?” Yes.
Now why did I asked her that, I asked her that because what I was thinking is, if little Johnny gets a portrait, little James going to need a portrait right, so that’s going to immediately pour opportunity for another for more work right. Well, if you just keep Jonathan now, he is probably not going to get another portrait done, he is probably going to be done. That was my thinking there. It’s more strategic. When we delve into case in a world and found out who she really was and what she stood for, she realized that.
She looked at the most painful times in her life and the most joyful times in her life, and she realized through examining those points of view that when she was a child, when she felt really loved and really cared for was when her parents were just delivering unconditional love, when she felt, really, really disfranchised and a lot of pain. She wasn’t part of the click. She wasn’t one of the inn girls. We daunted on her…It was really important…It was really important to her a mission she decided to go on was to come up with a way to value children for who they are, to value, just value their individual worth for who they are just who they are.
What does that portrait do? It values you for who you are. Her mission…She doesn’t just paint the portrait, she actually gets down on her knees. She plays with these kids. She really understands who they are, their personalities, their interest. They have their little…These are little beings who actually have distinct personalities. She reflects that in the portrait. When she talks about her…She never has to sell her portraits because I told, selling art sucks remember? I told you that.
Ann: What she does, she just talks about her mission, which is true. Yeah, she just says I am really…She talks about a mission, she the one really just on her children for who they are and celebrate their worth. She talks about, how she arrived at that and by the time she is done talking about that, people are freaking…She has got eating all of her hands because they are so inspiring by this mission. It’s authentic. There is nothing about it that is copy written in advance or somehow strategy this is truly who she is. That’s the example of how you sell art without selling art.
Ann: She sold a lot of it.
Jonathan: That’s great, from your experience and maybe you want to answer the question in general to…The question that I am having from all of this is okay so I have got my art, I got it ready to go, what’s my next step, who am I talking to next.
Ann: You got the cart before the horse, Jonathan. You got your art and you are thinking that’s your starting place. You have a body of work and what’s my next step. What I am saying is you…You have the carpet for the horse, you are in the middle. You need to backup two steps. Let’s go back to Kate as an example. She knows who her ideal customer’s avatar is, if you are not familiar with that term, that’s like the persona of her favorite buyer, a collector. She knows that her values match her customer’s values. She talks about her values. She got like family values. In that value of family, a value of family is very important to her particular target market.
She talks about that. If you are starting with your art, you are like you…You just your choice is tied together. You have to backup and know who you are, what you stand for and who you, who…What problem you can solve and whose got that problem, we look at Kate, right. Those mothers who commission these portraits, their biggest worry is that they are going to somehow screw their kids up. Truly she circumvent them, and their most concern that they are not going to love their children well enough, and they are not being patient, they are not being loving enough mothers because they are so hairy at doing things. Having a portrait of their child is a way to really honor and celebrate that child and express love and appreciation for that child, that’s how Kate solves the problem…That’s their inner angst that they are very, very concerned about that.
Jonathan: Okay, let’s talk about reach though. She had her target market defined. How did she reach them, was it online sales or she gong to…Fairs and events, and setting up her boots. What does that look like?
Ann: Great question. Number one source of business is referrals, which is usually the case, but we all got to start somewhere, right, so you start with…I’m not going to tell you where to start because my suggestion is you start…You start with the fastest path of cash. A lot of artists that I’ve talked to, say that people have expressed interest in a commission but they didn’t want to do it, because they didn’t know how to handle it. Go do it. Do it and mess it up. Just go do it and so that’s the first thing Jonathan it’s like if there’s someone that’s already expressed interest in your art and you hadn’t followed it up and I’m not kidding when I say that. Then make a list of those people who have expressed interest and start with them.
Ann: Or maybe if someone said to you…I love what you’re doing and I know so and so would love what you’re doing. I’d like to introduce you at some point. Well, follow up with that person and make that introduction happen. That’s like the easiest quickest way to start.
Ann: With your existing network and opportunities that you are having back in your head commit them to writing. Make yourself a list and prioritize them like who is the hottest lead here on this list, who is it and…Who is warm and who is cold. That’s number one. Just start with where you are today…That’s only that…That’s a really important and powerful concept to remember. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be just start with where you are today and don’t measure yourself against someone else don’t…You’re just going to be a massive case of anxiety and angst and everyone starts somewhere. I started somewhere. I started nowhere. I was nowhere, so please remember that, okay?
Ann: Then look at your existing network obviously online we got so much potential to connect to people but the problem that happens is you’ve got all this wonderful social media channels and ways to engage. You need to have something to say that’s compelling.
Ann: Right? It’s like going to a cocktail party and not having anything to say. You don’t know how to engage in a conversation. You don’t really know how to introduce yourself. You don’t know how to ask questions or take turns in conversation. Obviously social media is a really great way…Having an online presence, but people…I don’t know…People buy art mostly in person, especially if it’s expensive, if they’re going to buy off your websites usually going to be a second purchase. It cannot be a…Depending on…This depends very much on price point and the product. Don’t get all upset…If you’re selling on online, good for you…It depends like…I’m talking about expensive stuff it’s going to require some hand holding. The more expensive it is its going to require hand holding and sharing the same air.
Ann: That means going to events or hosting events yourself…Talk shows or open studio events. I’d invite people to my place here at the beach when I started out. Served them cocktails and [inaudible 00:33:25] and most people didn’t buy a damn thing, but a few did and it was worth it.
Jonathan: Okay. Lynn had a question and it dovetails into a question that Jaden has as well. Lynn wanted to know how do you handle the businessy stuff like building a sales funnel, selling, managing clients? Then Jaden’s question is, do you recommend getting the manager to kind of handle some of that stuff for you, make those connections? What are your thoughts on that?
Ann: Well, let’s keep it real. You’re never going to afford a manager until you get a certain point of success.
Ann: Let’s just keep this real. There’s no like long line a manager is waiting for a jobs to work for artists who aren’t making enough money to pay them. You got to…You got to be become success on your own first, then you can hire a manager. Yes, so you can’t really…You can’t start with a manager. There’s no manager. I don’t know where they are, but I’d love one. I don’t know…That’s a false…It’s one of those false notions, right, like get a manager. You’ve got…The first thing that’s…The first thing a manager may let’s say work on a percentage or a gallery is going to ask you is, “How much have you sold?” How much is…Or they’re not going to take you on. Sorry, you’re going to have to master this and guess what it’s actually fun and interesting. Now the other question was about how I managed the business side?
Jonathan: Yeah, like did you have to do it all from the scratch on your own? Did you get help from people? What did it look like?
Ann: Well, so wherever I could get help I got help and especially yeah definitely, so one of the ways that you can get help is through like Elance and oDesk. Right? It’s pretty cheap. Another way is you can get help like trading for services, bartering, I’m not going to get into the tax implications of that, but I did a lot. I did trades a lot when I first started. I traded for hair salon services, I traded for acupuncture, I traded for massage, I traded for so…I traded anything I damn well could trade for. I traded for graphic design, website design…People who would like really loved my art but wouldn’t normally buy it were…Because they didn’t usually buy art they were great…They were great prospects for giving a trade.
I did it dollar for dollar trade, and I kept it all in writing because I didn’t want to lose my friendships in a relationships with these people. I wanted the boundaries to be very clear. That’s another way that you can do it. Here’s a thing you don’t have to do everything at once. All right, just take it one step at a time. The one thing that’s a big hazard is feeling overwhelmed. If you got plan however, especially a living plan you can take things you can chunk things out and do things in a logical sequence. It’s very difficult to do that if you don’t have it written down and you don’t have…You’re not keeping up with it, very, very difficult. I don’t think you can do it actually.
Jonathan: Okay. When you …
Ann: Timing is important.
Jonathan: When you were building your business plan…Now, this ties into a question from Sarah, is there a business plan outline that you think fits well for artists…Where did you land on your search?
Ann: Well, I have a plan and I’ve a one-page plan. It’s not as anywhere as in-depth as life plans. I don’t know if I can mention that or not, but I feel if it’s proper then you can send out the link, but you’re all welcome to that. That is a good place to…It’s actually artists who strive to launch the plan, but you can’t stop there. That’s just to get things out. You have to go to the next level and that’s where you have to keep iterating that plan, and that’s just the bare bones of it. That’s why a product like live plans keeps you engaged in planning. It’s not the plan, okay, it’s actually not the plan, it’s the planning. Does that make sense?
Jonathan: Yeah, I think it does.
Ann: Do you think it matters? Of course you do.
Jonathan: I think it does, but let’s explain that to all.
Ann: [Crosstalk 00:38:07]. You got to start every week by looking at your plan. It’s like a…You say a plan is not a road map it’s a compass. Let’s just look at this analogy, right?
Ann: Lets say I want to go from San Francisco to New York City and I have never taken this journey before in my life right and that’s like wanting to go from 0 to a $100,000 in one year. How the hell am I going to do that, right?
Ann: Well, what’s going to happen is I’m going to make progress…Let’s say, I get across Nevada or I will…Now I may have to look at my map again to see if I’m pointing the right direction and I still point to east towards New York or am I going towards Alaska now right so you have to look at your plan and see where you’re positioned in the map. You also have to take this…One thing about planning is you look at your situation as it is today…What are those six things I need to do today, right.
Then you also want to be able to take a step back and look at your plan and your position on that plan or on that map from like a 30,000 mile view to see where you’re tracking. We got to zoom in and out. That’s my best analogy I can give you, but it’s really important. Bottom line is this…When you think about the act of writing something or trying to articulate something…When we write we find out what we know and what we don’t know. That’s important too, but not being able to answer questions is…It’s great news. Right, I don’t know what my target market is. Great, so then you can ask the question, “Well, then how do I find out?”
Ann: You’re not going to have all the answers at once, but planning will help you provide those answers over time and those answers will also change over time.
Ann: It’s really important.
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you.
Ann: If anyone off here isn’t …
Jonathan: That is okay. We have a question from Marilyn John, she wanted to know how do you stay motivated when you’re art is good and maybe you’ve had people compliment that its good, but it’s not selling. What keeps you motivated in that situation?
Ann: Yeah, you take some compliment and deposit them in a bank, Marilyn, I know that. I know that feeling. I’m going to address this. Okay because this gives artistes a lot of consternation. They get gushing compliments from people and then those people don’t buy and then the artist feels like…Their family thinks somehow okay. Let me give an analogy…A lot of people here at San Francisco drive those Tesla cars and I think they’re really beautiful and I think that they’re…I like that they’re so well-engineered, but no matter how much money I had I am never going to…I am never going to spend a $100,000 on a car, because if you live in San Francisco you’re bumpers going to get dented. I just wouldn’t do it. Right, so I admire that car.
I think it’s a beautiful car. I respect the engineering, but I’m not going to buy it. I’m never going to buy it…Those are those people who give you the compliments but don’t buy your stuff. Just take the compliments as an assurance that you’re doing something right.
Ann: You just never found your target market and you probably haven’t found your…If you have found your target market you’re not addressing their pinpoint. Let me just say, Keith Bradley the portrait painter who I referred to earlier, a lot of those people didn’t know that they needed their children’s portrait painted. They never felt it and it never occurred to them, but when she presented it as hey, this is a way to actually celebrate your child’s individuality. Take pride in it and acknowledge them, like…It’s a junior portrait.
Jonathan: Yeah, that brings to a question from Sabrina Booth, I’m glad she brought this up because it kind of ties into what you were saying earlier with thinking through that people that you’ve already talked to, who have shown some interest in your work. How do you take an enquiry and then convert it to an actual sale?
Ann: Well, that’s a big question. I wish I could talk to her directly, like what really delve into the question so I can ask questions about the questions to make sure I understand it.
Ann: Because I apologize everyone and maybe answering the question and it’s not affectively answering what you typed in, but…That’s such a big question because how do I sell something. It really…The question is how do I sell something and that’s as big of a question as how do I market something. Right, I can’t really answer without knowing the specifics, but I will tell you this…As in the general world people buy, generate most of your business. Because they already trust you, right, so you already got number one…You’ve already got that box checked if you got a referral.
Really, anything I would say about selling and this is as a general notion is this just really having a conversation…A guided conversation. You want to find out if you could help them or not and this is why understanding what you’re solving is so critical. If you can’t help them then you let them know you can’t help them and then you end that conversation before you waste time…Your time and their time.
Its just really that’s a very, very different philosophical approach than using test closes and closing the deal, so its about having guided conversations and then I also will add you got to ask. Just come right on say, is this something you’re…Can you picture this on your wall? Do you like wearing this…Do you like the way that bracelet feels? Do you want to take it home with you? Would you…I offer free delivery…Would you…If you’re interested in buying this today, I can offer free delivery and installation. You sense it there’s not interest which you almost have to make them mental note, when you’re just starting to sell to remember to ask for the sale.
Jonathan: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. Can I tie into something that I want to ask you about to is maybe what’s holding back somebody back from doing that is the fear of either rejection or the fear that they don’t know how if they can represent themselves well. How do you handle fear? How do you get past it? What’s worked for you?
Ann: Fear …
Jonathan: What was that? What do you say?
Ann: Fear is always going to be there. It’s always going to be there and you can’t ever get rid of it, so don’t fight it, just say hello to it. Say, “Hey, [inaudible 00:45:52] fear. I feel like I’m sweating, I can feel it. I feel the hair is raising on the back of my neck.” Feel it. You’re going to feel fear. It’s okay. It doesn’t prevent you from saying, “Are you interested in buying this?” You can just…I think spear of fear just causes more damn fear. It’s actually anxiety. That’s actually would cause…I’m very familiar with it.
Ann: You have to just feel the fear and do it anyway, and it’s very…It is more fearful for an artist to ask for the sale because it’s personal. I’m telling you, if you will take, if you will start selling art, I mean it, start selling your art and look for ways to solve the problem, you’re not going to have a problem to find, you’re not going to have a problem asking whether or not you can solve the problem. You’re not going have a problem with that. You’re going to want to do that because you’re actually going yourselves someone’s problem.
Jonathan: I think what might be helpful to is to recognize that you’re going to make mistakes that does happen. You might mess it up. [Crosstalk 00:46:57]. You might feel like you lost that sale, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking and you’ll find that as you continue to ask you’ll get better. Is that right?
Ann: Yes, there’s a phrase…I don’t know who came up with this phrase, but when it comes to like sales and losing sales, you’re going to lose more sales and you’re going to have it closed by a huge percentage, and the phrase goes, “Some will, some won’t, so what next?” There’s really a provision to take. It’s okay. There it’s okay. It’s a number’s gain, and it’s not personal. I mean, when the last time you went to a shoe store and you didn’t buy those shoes, wasn’t a personal rejection as the sales person know it all. You just didn’t want the shoes. They didn’t fit you.
They weren’t you’re style; you didn’t feel like shopping that day. It really is that you don’t lose sight of this. We have this illusion that the art is an extension of ourselves. Our relationship to our art that’s true. When the buyer comes around, it’s just a product that they do want to buy or they don’t want to buy. It’s not personal if they reject it, if they don’t want to buy it.
Jonathan: That’s interesting. I haven’t thought of that before, but that makes a lot of sense. It helps from an owner’s point of view to recognize that, and stop seeing it is a personal rejection which might take a little bit of time to realize that. It sounds like it’s worth it.
Ann: If you get into this place for you really understand what problem you’re solving because just they wanted to happen…You’ll be selling…Remember when I said you don’t want to sell art, selling art sucks. You want to create value above and beyond the art and sell that. If you’re focused on that, you’re not actually selling your art anymore. The example with Kate Bradway, she’s not actually selling portraits of children, but she’s actually selling it’s an opportunity to a parent, usually it’s a mother to celebrate and to knowledge their child’s individuality, and they’re worth of their individuality. It’s an opportunity to love that child for who they’re, just as they are. That’s a powerful promise. Product promise isn’t it?
Ann: A lot more probable and engaging they’re trying to sell portrait.
Jonathan: Got it.
Ann: It is in fact that’s what actually happens and it’s…These portraits get unveiled of these children and the parents often like tears, well, she loves it when the dad’s cry in particular, really …
Jonathan: That’s great.
Ann: I want to emphasize, you have to be authentic because people will smell it. This system really be authentic. If it is it, it will work.
Jonathan: Tony asks a question that I think ties well into this. He said, “Is art is abstract?”
Jonathan: He’s having trouble knowing how to communicate? How that solves a problem? Maybe you can speak to that.
Ann: Glad you asked, Tony. Love it. Okay, so let me give you another example of someone who’s selling art, but not selling art, okay? This artist I worked with, her name is Jenny Nikki, let me explain who she is and what she stands for first of all. Her why? When Jenny Nikki was in her early thirties, she was married, had two children and she was given a diagnosis of cancer and given 50-50 chance to live. Okay. As you can well imagine she was very scared, and her heart was bursting because she didn’t know if she was going to be around for her children, so on the way that she responded to this stress by the way she’s an abstract painter. That’s why I’m talking about Jenny Nikki.
Ann: She went into her studio and she started painting, abstract paintings to her children. Basically, she’s “I wanted to make stuff, so I can leave something behind because I really know I was going to be around.” I thought, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to act, so this is what I’ll do,” and that’s what…I said, “Oh that’s interesting. It sounds like you were basically reading a legacy of love to your children.” She said, “Oh my God, that’s exactly what I was doing. I said, “Well, what will be interesting Jenny?” She said, “Why are you doing that?” She said, “Because I realized that I needed to tell them that I love them and show them that I love them. I need to show them that I love them in case I didn’t make it.” By the way, she’s like five years cleaned. She’s very healthy.
Jonathan: That’s nice to hear.
Ann: Yeah, she’s doing great, so I just thought, “Ooh, this is awesome. I got idea.” Then what happened next was I said, “Oh, my Gosh, Jenny, so many people have this problem. The problem is they don’t people and realize that they love them, and why they love them.” Talk about pain, that’s a fake big pain as humans have, right?
Ann: What if you actually sat with someone, and you ask them like she did this. She did this with the groom and is his bride-to-be. She sat with him and said, “Tell me the reasons you love her.” He wrote a list with Jenny. He started crying which is great because it’s I have this phrase, “Watch him cry, make a buy” which means touch their heart. They will just…That’s what art does. It touches your heart. He went through this process with her and then she took those words and she was all blubbery too. It’s fantastic. Then, she created this painting. It was an abstract painting that was inspired by this love list. Then what happened was the wedding party actually paid the commission, and Jenny came to the wedding reception unveiled the painting. The bride starts crying. The groom starts crying. Everybody in the reception starts crying. Jenny gets much referrals.
Jonathan: Yeah, okay.
Ann: Jenny gets you where this is. This is really is…This is made of…This is Jenny’s real circumstance. She knows who she is. Jennie knows what’s important in her life. That’s what’s important. You find out what’s important when you face death. She knows who she is and what she stands for. Does she resonate with everyone? No. Does her abstract style and abstract painting resonate with everyone? No. Doesn’t matter. She knows how to connect with retarded market though. She knows how to help them. She can solve a problem. She can alleviate pain. She doesn’t have to sell any more damn abstract paintings, which is no fun. There’s too many abstract paintings. You’re not talented enough. I’m not talented enough.
Jonathan: When we talk about this, it’s like so far we’ve used painting an artist sells the example which makes a whole lot of sense because you’re …
Ann: I know.
Jonathan: You know a lot of artists, but…[Crosstalk 00:54:26]. Exactly. Do you have examples for how musicians who’ve done this? How photographers have done this?
Ann: Yes. I only know example of a musician, okay? Musician who is…He was in Whitney Houston’s first music video. He grew up in the Baptist church in a thoughtful tradition just like Whitney did. He tried for many, many years to make it, to get signed by a label and blah, blah, blah, things you do, right? Hold on. You’re a Gospel…I’ll explain to you what you’re doing. I said, “You are Gospel singer.” He’s like, “Oh, I can’t use the word Gospel, it’s not marketable.” I’m like, “Well, first of all Mister, you don’t really you haven’t been a master of marketing yet. Let’s just go back and believe where they’re and where we stand for,” because that’s why your strength lies, your authentic self.
What happened was fast forward. I was just trying what he is doing now. He went back to the Gospel tradition, and we created this concept of something that’s called “Voice Church.” It’s a reflection of a term called “House Church” and in the Christian community in the South; they gather and have church in people’s houses. What he does is he goes to people’s houses and he actually conducts a gospel sing along. In that tradition, you actually sit or stand in a circle and it’s called a response. Everyone can sing. You don’t have to know the words.
He calls, and then people say in response and people have a flipping blast, it’s like karaoke, where you don’t have to get drunk. It’s like karaoke. You don’t have to believe in Jesus or God. Everyone’s welcome. Everybody comes from every whether they have religious orientation or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s a way to gather people and they feel so joyful, and they feel so distressed after doing one of these same circles. You see what probably solving, he also give you a damn excuse to have a very compelling and memorable party.
Ann: At the minimum, that’s a minimum value proposition. People are so happy and they’re lit up at the end of this. He is going back to who he is and what he stands for. He knows that people are very afraid of singing. There’s an African proverb winch he has on his website, “If you could speak, you could sing.” Most people when you ask that if they could sing, most go “Oh, I can’t sing. I sound like hell.” He gets over all that in the singing circles. There’s also a huge barrier for a lot of people. That’s an example of musicians.
I can’t give you like…If you type into the chat box I’m a musician how can I make a good living? It’s a hell. I can answer you without digging in deeper. You can ask some of these questions to yourself. Look for what characteristics, what experience, what skills, what resources do you have above and beyond your art. That’s where I encourage you all to look, but for real I would less than an hour from my country. That’s like people are bunch of very affluent tourists, so write down the road there, so that’s why so they’re all panting veneers.
Ann: That’s a great information.
Jonathan: That helps, that definitely helps.
Ann: That’s fantastic for sales, not every circumstance, but many.
Jonathan: Yeah, I guess that you’ve taken one thing away from today’s webinar. It’s that alcohol helps sales. No, I’m just kidding.
Ann: Auctions at art gallery receptions. They’re serving and it’s like always serve it.
Jonathan: Take down, okay.
Ann: People connect with their emotions and their impulses when their…I’m not suggesting you all become…You create a bunch of losers. I’m just saying, it is an actual strategy that is used for. Let’s not pretend that is used.
Jonathan: Well, that’s about the time that we have for questions. Thank you everyone for submitting your questions and
Ann: Yeah, thank you.
Jonathan: Thank you for your time. I wanted to follow up just real quick you’re a course instructor, you do have this course about making money and making art.
Ann: Eight courses.
Jonathan: You have eight courses, so I’m going to do, I’m going to paste the link in here into the chat window for everybody. I mean, just do that real quick. Okay, so that’s the link and you wanted to offer 10% off for the course if people include this with LivePlan. [Crosstalk 00:59:34].
Ann: If you copy Jonathan’s T-shirt…Let me just back up. I actually teach something called, “The MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester.” Enrollment is not open right now, but there is I’m accepting applications the next “MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester” and you can go to this link, and apply.
Ann: Yeah, there’s an apply link, but if you can navigate towards that I think. Well, actually you can anyway. If you put in, there’s a place at the very bottom of the applications as, “Where did you hear of us the very first time?” If it was “LivePlan” just type in Jonathan’s T-shirt “LivePlan,” and you will receive a promo code that will extend a 10% off, and that’s in neighborhood of $200.
Ann: Get your take. It’s actually valuable, and that’s just because you all showed up. See what happens when you show up.
Jonathan: Yeah, thank you. Just as a note because a few people have asked in about seven days or so, I mean, I sent a follow-up email to everybody who attended, everybody who registered for the webinar, is going to include a recording of this conversation that we had, and I’ll definitely include the link to Ann’s course with the discount, so you can get that there as well. Yeah, once again, Ann, thank you for joining us today. Thank you for all of your great answers. Thank you everyone for coming and submitting such great questions.