The Vital Life Skill Helps that Helps Artists Sell Art

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in Reaching GOALS


Every artist I mentor must define a SMARTER goal that they really want to reach within six months.

This vital life skill helps artists sell their art and it helps them define and reach other important goals, for the rest of their life.

We are all told that it’s so very important to set goals.

But what we are not told is how to define goals in a way that exponentially increases the odds of reaching them.

So what happens? We often set poorly defined goals.

And we don’t reach these poorly defined goals because they are, poorly defined. So, we just stop setting goals.

It’s too bad. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Mastering SMARTER goals is, mastering the eighth realm of MAKING Art Making MONEY, an 8-part, sequential, and iterative methodology

This is a proven process that helps artists build their artistic enterprises. 

Again, the two vital ingredients to reaching your goals as an artist.

  1. Define a SMARTER goal.
  2. Remain committed to that goal.

SMARTER stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Result
  • Time Bound
  • Evaluate
  • Revise, if necessary

So here’s an example of a SMARTER goal.

“Will I sell $100,000 or more of my art by the end 2014?”

  • Is it specific? Yes. $100K of art
  • Is it measurable? Yes. $100K of art is sold by the end of 2014 or it is not.
  • Is it attainable? Here’s where it gets tricky. This SMARTER goal is attainable if you can take action on it today.
  • Is there a result? Yes. $100K or more.
  • Is it time bound? Check. Art sold by the end of 2014.

Why is the SMARTER goal stated in the form of a question? So you can answer it, honestly.

Just stating your SMARTER goal in the form of an affirmation does not work nearly as well. 

Affirming your goal is not enough. You must take honest and focused action.

It might feel nice and optimistic to affirm your goal but it doesn’t engage your entire brain.

A goal stated in the form of a question ignites the hard-wiring of your subconscious to search for the answer even when your conscious mind isn’t thinking of it.

In other words, solutions and answers tend to pop into your head.

 “Well I have a lot of goals!” Yes, you do. And you can have everything that you truly want, but not all at once.

What is your SMARTER goal? Leave it in the comments box below.

Writing your SMARTER down is the first step that will transform your desired goal into reality.

Life is short. So don’t wait for what you really want. Get it now!


A Coach or a Mentor to Artists?

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in SELLING Art

Artist, CEO | Ann Rea, Inc. & Founder of ArtistsWhoTHRIVE

 Someone recently asked me if I was a business “coach” for artists.

Because “coach” is a commonly understood term, I’ve used this term to describe my one-on-one services with artists.

I start by helping artists shape their mission and unique value proposition that will serve a target market.

Why start here? Because this is a really tough thing to do on your own. It’s hard to see ourselves.

But I’m not really a coach. I’m really a mentor

Why? Well, I don’t have a coaching certificate and I don’t care to have one.

I know that what I do works. My artist clients experience measurable results in increased art sales.

A mentor is really a better description because I don’t teach theory.

I base my advice on my very practical and hard won experience in selling my art. This includes my successes and my big fat failures.

I also draw upon the case studies of other artists who I have worked with over the years.

I’m all for formal education but it often comes up way too short when it comes to the day to day reality of establishing and running a profitable and fulfilling art business. 

How do I know? I have mentored artists who have MBAs.

They did not learn about the unique demands of marketing and selling art in business school.

Business schools, and art schools, really do not understand how to sell art. And that’s probably why you are reading this post. 

This debilitating lack of critical knowledge about selling art caused me years of frustration and that is what compels me to share what I’ve learned. 

And that is why I designed an 8-part, sequential, iterative road map for other artists to follow.

Your ability to master each of these eight business realms is as important as your creative talent.

Why? Because your talent is NOT going to be discovered.

When I ask artists why they apply to work with me they all essentially say because, “Because you walk your talk.”

In fact, I’ve made my living from selling my art for over eight years.

Whatever it is that you want to learn, you can learn more from those who do rather than those who only teach.

It’s not that you can’t learn valuable lessons from those who have mastered a subject academically, in theory. You can.

But it’s far more valuable to learn relatable lessons from a “coach” who has run and who has won and lost races, rather than someone who has just read about winning.  

I’m still running!

More on Artists Identifying their Missions

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in INSPIRATIONS, MARKETING Art



More on artists identifying their missions…

Okay. So I got a few excited responses from artists who think, or who would like to think, that they have identified their mission. Well. I’m not so sure.

Here’s the test. Are you 100% clear?

If someone, who you have never met, heard your mission for the first time, would they get it? Or would they be left scratching their head? You know. Like when you read most artists’ statements.

Your mission must be a 100% clear! 

No one sets off to accomplish a vague mission. A mission is crystal clear.

And because your mission is so clear, so confident, and energized, others support you or they join you.

Let’s review the examples from last week’s post.

Colleen Attara’s mission is to artistically transform discarded materials to lessen the impact on our natural environment while transforming our emotional environment to hope and joy.

While Jenny McGee’s mission is to help people express their love for one another.

And Kate Bradley’s mission to help families celebrate their relationships by honoring their children.

Their missions are crystal clear. Right!?

Beware of the word “unique.” It means nothing. And it’s a sure sign that you are not sure of your mission.

Lack of clarity is also cloaked in the phrase “unique beauty.”

Here’s the thing. Your mission is not about you and is it not about your art. Your mission is about how you will serve the greater good.

Your mission is about the positive IMPACT your efforts will have.

Having a clear mission is the only way that you can make art that actually matters to someone other than you.

To be a successful artist your art must simply be a by-product of a something much bigger, and so much more important, than your artistic talent or craft.

It’s not about you. It’s about the value that you create above and beyond the art itself.

Caution. If you read the stated missions of the artists above and formed yours by responding, “yeah, me too!” I don’t think so.

You can no more copy another artist’s mission than you can copy another artist’s work.

You must delve into serious soul searching to know who you are and what you stand for. Your mission is born of your unique human experience.

Reflecting on the most painful times in your life will illuminate your mission.

Why? Because the most painful times in your life stand in stark contrast to your most dearly held values.

Your values are a reflection of who you are and what you stand for.

Frankly, very few people ever actually do this type of soul searching with significant depth.

Why? Because it requires great courage and vulnerability. 

However, the big pay off is that you find meaning in your suffering and this heals you and it can heal others.

“Visioning”, the first step of the 8-part sequential process takes the longest AND it is the most important part of developing a creative enterprise.

Why? “Visioning” is the foundation for all your efforts that follow. It has to be rock solid.

I get it. This can be confusing and confronting. And they don’t teach you this in art school.

If you get it, please share in the comments below.

If not, let’s hear about that too. There’s no right or wrong. This is a process. Just start where you are today. Follow the “Yellow Brick Road.”

 What to learn more? Get my recent Creative Live course.  

Call a friend, a master mind buddy, and ask them to do the same. Then review the course together. We don’t succeed alone.

First Step for Artists – Clearly Define your Mission

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in MARKETING Art


Where do artists stumble most?

In the very beginning of the 8-part sequential and iterative methodology that I define in my The MAKING Art Making MONEY Course.

Why? Because they want to skip the first, and THE most important, step of defining a mission.

Why? So that they can get to the second step, defining a unique value proposition.

Why are they over eager to skip this step?

A. Defining your mission is often painful and raw and it exposes how well you know yourself or how well you don’t.

B. Because we just don’t want to wait to define the value of our art because we want sales, damn it!  Who doesn’t?

But a business only makes money if it offers value in service to a target market. 

“’Business.’ I thought we where talking about ‘artists’?” Yes. Business.

If you are selling your art you are indeed operating a business. If you disagree with me ask the IRS. They’ll confirm this fact in a hurry.

Offering value for payment is a universal economic law so I am stating the obvious.

The not so obvious rub for most artists is that do not know how to define, and therefore how to articulate, their unique value proposition.

“I create unique beauty” does not make a unique value proposition.

AND artists often get the value they create mixed up with their self worth. Ugh!

Artists also do not realize that in order to compete in an over saturated art market they MUST create unique value above and beyond their art.

However, most artists have no idea where to start in the process of defining a unique value proposition because they have not yet defined their mission.

Let me share a few examples of hope.

These are artists who have worked with to help define their mission and the resulting unique value proposition.

1.) Colleen Attara’s mission is to artistically transform discarded materials, lessoning the impact on our natural environment while simultaneously transforming our emotional environments.

Her unique value proposition is through strategic partnerships she reclaims what others no longer see value in, “garbage,” and she reshapes it into inspiring hand-scripted words of hope and joy. 

2.) During her MAKING Art Making MONEY course Jenny McGee found her inspiring personal mission and shortly after we defined her unique value proposition.

Jenny’s mission is to help people express their love for one another through her art.

Her unique value proposition is that she sits down with her patrons to help them create a “love list,” the specific reasons that they love someone.

3.)  Memphis based artist Kate Bradley has a mission to help families celebrate their relationships by honoring their children.

Her unique value proposition is that she specializes in painting portraits of children and capturing their essence in the context of their interests and personality by actually getting to know her subjects.

If you think that that the examples above are just about a bunch of snappy copy or simple poetic language, think again.

Each is an authentic and deeply meaningful example of which each artist has devoted their life to.

So sarcastic skeptics. Step aside.

Isn’t what they describe so much more compelling than the rambling and self-involved artist’s statements that are often too painful to read?

See. It’s possible.

But you do have to follow a certain logical sequence.

You can’t skip a step. Particularly the first one. First define your mission.

Know who you are and what you stand for.

Artists are thought leaders. What thoughts are you willing to lead with? What could you devote your life to?

You can’t put the cherry on top of the cake without mixing the batter, or before that, preheating the oven.

I’ve heard from so many exhausted and frustrated artists from all over the globe who have been doing just that for years and years.

The sad thing is, it’s not necessary!

THE most popular Creative LIVE business course is currently “Make Money Making Art”

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in Artists and MONEY



I very proud to say that my Creative LIVE course is the most popular business course in their current catalog, and I’m in the company of courses delivered by several NYT best selling business authors who I admire.

My experience with Creative LIVE is proof positive that we do not succeed alone.

It takes a tremendous amount of coordinated effort and cooperative talent to co-create this kind of quality broadcast.

One that reached a virtual stadium full of artists.

This success points directly to number seven of the eight-point credo for Artists Who THRIVE.

“7. RELATIONSHIPS equal revenue. Our success is shared.”  

Sometimes we are working so very hard on honing our creative talent or trying to grow our artistic enterprise that we forget two things.

  1. We don’t have to go it alone.
  2. We can ask for help.

So I’m inviting you to do a little exercise.

Engage the power of your imagination.

Celebrate your future success by counting all of the people who will be involved in helping you manifest it.

Have fun. Play with this.

I’ll lead with my most recent example at Creative LIVE.

Here’s a “partial” list of those who made a vital contribution to the success of “Make Money Making Art.”

  • The drivers who picked me up and dropped me off on time.
  • My Creative LIVE producer who brainstormed with me to help me craft the course, while having loads of fun.
  • The sound guy who kept checking that my mike was still taped to me and wasn’t falling down my dress.
  • The in-studio audience who where so open and vulnerable about their successes and struggles on live camera.
  • The people who prepared and served our delicious meals and snacks.
  • The Artists Who THRIVE who I have coached, who conferenced in from across the country to generously share all that they have learned.
  • The hair and make up stylist who helped make me look my best.
  • Artists around the globe who chimed in on the chat room to ask me questions.
  • Two gracious and experienced hosts who helped the live broadcast flow seamlessly.
  • The technical and production team whose various expertise I can’t even begin name.
  • The social media facilitator who engaged the live online audience.
  • The audience to purchased the course and who are now taking meaningful action.
  • The host who helped while she interviewed me before the broadcast so that people could know more about me and why I created the course.
  • The creative talent who crafted the course promotional graphics and copy.
  • The audience who took the time to review the course.
  • The artists who took the initiative to find an accountability partner, a mastermind, to complete the 50-Step Action Plan that comes with the course.
  • The founders of Creative LIVE who had the courage and fortitude to pursue their vision to create a positive disruptive educational model.
  • All of the creators of the social media channels and technology who made it possible, going back to before Thomas Edison.

There is no way I can name everyone who played a hand in this success.

As you can see, I could go on for days acknowledging and appreciating these direct and indirect collective contributions.

The point is that this. This is not my success. This is “our” success.

Take action now. Imagine a specific future success with your artistic enterprise and the relationships that will help you get there.

Who will you count on the list of people who are going to help you accomplish your specific success?

Make a list.

There is power in the present moment.

Energy and focus fades.

If you do this now, right now, you will plant the seeds for your success.  

(Ann Rea is a nationally recognized artist and the creator and instructor of an intimate, live, online, foundational eight-week business course for artists called MAKING Art Making MONEY. Rea’s book “SELL YOUR ART without Selling Out, 101 Rules” is now available on Amazon.)


The “Starving Artist” Slur

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in INSPIRATIONS


It’s no secret that I am on a personal mission to eliminate the “starving artist” mythology.

How? By helping artists secure their creative freedom by teaching them focused business savvy.

Rule 10 in my new book “SELL YOUR ART without Selling Out, 101 Rules” is:

The “starving artist” mythology is a fundamentally disrespectful prejudice. Believing it perpetuates unnecessary self-limitation and injury.

Allow me to count five reasons why “Starving Artist” is a destructive slur.

1. The “starving artist” mythology is a fundamentally disrespectful prejudice that stops too many artists before they even get started. Many people just expect that artists must “struggle” for success or “suffer” for their art. Yeah. Whatever.

2. This limiting bias can easily be self-imposed. I’m the first to admit that I too thwarted and delayed my own success as an artist by falling for this mind trap.

I believed that I had to surrender my art to pursue a more “practical” career path so that I could have a “happy and productive” conventional life. 

But that “practical” career path turned out to be an “impractical” path of the highest order.

The pressures of running my artistic enterprise pale in comparison to my experience of the corporate grind.

3. The myth is a lie. During the first year of my artistic enterprise, I was actually more creative than ever before and I made more money than I had ever earned working for the man. And not by a small margin. It was over $100,000 in 2005.

4. Rule 25 is “Artists are thought leaders. That’s why we are the first to be commissioned and executed during a political revolution.”

 Our culture values freedom of expression and we celebrate creativity because our economy is built upon innovation.

So you would think artists could get a little respect? Unlike scientists and engineers, we don’t.

5. Rather than jokingly referring to me as an “Artsy-Fartsy Starving Artist” I would much rather people just come straight out with it and call me a “stupid loser.” Because to me, those disrespectful “playful” remarks sound about the same.

 I’m even more annoyed by other artists who broadcast their scarcity mentality.

I’m appalled that artists can be some of the worst offenders of the “starving artist” slander by throwing up the spineless excuse that they don’t really care about selling their art, when they really do.

I also find in galling when artists don’t really know how to sell their art so they excuse themselves by pretending that they just don’t want to be a “sell out.”

Come on. Admit it! On the whole we don’t know how to sell our art. Why? Because if we ask how we are going to sell our art in art school we are shamed for even asking the question.

What the hell does “selling out” really mean anyway? Does anyone even know?

And why is it that artists are accusing other more successful artists of “selling out? 

This unquestioned prejudice reminds me of a time when I was elected to be the foreman on a jury.

I asked a fellow jury member to share her thoughts about the evidence supporting the guilt or the innocence of the young female defendant. Obviously, this was a very important question.

Her response? “I don’t know. I’m just a women.”

I felt an urge well up inside me to slap her. But I refrained.

Instead I reminded her that each of us carried a vital responsibility as a juror, male or female.

Just as racist, sexiest, and all manner of other unquestioned negative cultural biases and insults can limit the victim’s opportunities they also erode our culture and our economy. We all miss out.

Yet the irony is revealed in the answer to this question. “Who are some of the people we most admire?” It’s artists.

Hardcopies of my new book “SELL YOUR ART without Selling Out, 101 Rules” are now available on Amazon here. 

  (Ann Rea is a nationally recognized artist and creator and instructor of an intimate, live, online, foundational eight-week business course for artists called MAKING Art Making MONEY.)

Tune into Make MONEY Making Art at Creative LIVE March 10th and 11th

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in Artists and MONEY



Calling all Artists Who THRIVE!

If you’ve been sitting on your hands thinking about pulling the trigger on a one-on-one coaching application, applying for The MAKING Art Making MONEY Course, or thinking about booking a phone consultation but you have just not been ready to invest in yourself, I have something for you.

Over the past couple months I have been collaborating with the producers at Creative LIVE to deliver a two-day, live, on-line course for FREE

If you can’t make it or if you want to review it; no problem. Get anytime access for $79.

I’m spilling all the beans for two days straight. Those who enroll will be receiving an electronic copy of “SELL YOUR ART without Selling Out, 101 Rules.”

And those who purchase the course will receive an electronic copy of the course book called “Make MONEY Making Art, 50-Step Action Plan.”

Successful artists who I have coached will be appearing and talking about their successes, failures, and big fat lessons learned.

If you want to Make MONEY Making Art someday, let me tell you. Someday is today.

Enrollments are already off the charts.

So get on it. Buy the course. Find a friend and go through the exercises in the “Make MONEY Making Art, 50-Step Action Plan” together.

“We do not succeed alone.” That’s one of the things I share in my most recent interview with the lovely Kenna Klosterman, host at Creative LIVE. Tune in here…

There is No Such Thing as a Successful (Full Time) Artist

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in MARKETING Art



Yes. You read that right. There is no such thing as a successful (full-time) artist.
“Ann. What do you mean? Aren’t you a successful full-time artist?”
No. Sorry to burst your bubble but I’m not. I’m both an artist and an entrepreneur and that is why I am successful, in the conventional sense of the word.
If you’re not too concerned with selling your art then this is not really the place for you.
But let’s face it. Is there anything that ignites creative inspiration like a sale? I know that it infuses me with energy and enthusiasm.
Anyway. My point is this. Successful artists are also entrepreneurs. So are physicians or attorneys who run their own practices or professional athletes.
A physician practices medicine but they must also keep up with the latest developments in medicine, generate new business, manage their practice, deal with insurance, keep an eye on cash flow, hire and fire staff, etc. You get the point. They have many realms to manage and to balance with the realm of practicing medicine.
It’s the same for a plumber, a real estate agent, or a hip-hop music mogul.
If you want someone else to take care of all that business mumbo jumbo, good luck finding that someone else.
Again. If you’re not too concerned with selling your art then this blog is not really the place for you.
But if you would like to sell your art, or more of it, I’ve identified eight sequential foundational realms of building a creative enterprise that must be balanced with your creative practice.
I’m giving you my blue print. It is the same blue print, or road map, that I use to build my art business and the one that I have coached other artists through.
The good news is that, assuming you actually have artistic talent, each of the eight realms can be mastered by most people who are intelligent and diligent. And this describes most artists who I know.
The hardest part for artists to get their head wrapped around is marketing, or as I call it, the “Visioning” realm.
I absolutely LOVE marketing. Why? Because the very best marketing is extraordinarily creative and it is engaging. Just like art.
I look at creating marketing strategies much like creating a painting.
When I paint I have a blank canvas, some paint, and an idea. Then I weave those together and I create a painting.
When I develop marketing strategies for Ann Rea, Inc., or for other artists, we define the artist’s mission, unique value proposition, pain alleviated or problem solved, and their objective. Then I weave these together and create a marketing strategy that will help the artist reach a target market.
Does every marketing strategy work? No.
Does every painting work? No.
Sometimes the first attempt, or the first draft, works beautifully but usually the last attempt informs the next. It is an iterative process.
Why is the marketing of your art so important? That’s obvious if you want to sell it but what artists often don’t appreciate is that the mission and the marketing behind your art creates more value for your collectors and inspires your creativity.
The bottom line is this. Every artist is an entrepreneur and every entrepreneur is an artist. Consequently, there is no such thing as a successful (full-time) artist.

Or as Andy Warhol said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

MAKING Art Making MONEY on Creative LIVE on March 10th and 11th

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in Artists and MONEY





Last December, Jonathan Fields interviewed me for the Good Life Project.

If you haven’t tuned into his inspiring series I highly recommend that you do.

You’ll enjoy deep-dive interviews with an amazing group of people who are living “a good life.”

“People who…have more fun, cultivate higher-levels of freedom, touch more lives, leave bigger legacies and, straight up, live better lives.”

After our Good Life Project shoot a number of us gathered for dinner.

During our lively dinner conversation something dawned on.

I felt something shift inside and I realized two things.

1. I am eager to take my art in a new creative direction that is much more grounded in my personal experience and values.

2. But before that, I have to first reach out and speak directly to a much bigger audience of artists to teach them what I have figured out about making art and making money.

So during that dinner last December, I silently made it my mission to eliminate the “starving artist” mythology by helping to empower artists through business savvy.

I was already doing some of this through my weekly blog, Artists Who THRIVE.

But I realized that I want to have a much bigger impact and so I need to reach a bigger audience of artists.

So in 2013, I created MAKING Art Making MONEY, an 8-week, initiate, live, online foundational business course for artists that teaches my 8-step methodology to building a creative enterprise.

This includes the proven process that I followed and that I have successfully taught other artists one on one.

Unlike typical web based tele-seminars, The MAKING Art Making MONEY Course allows a small group of artists, no more than 9, to actually connect with one another because we meets live via Google Hangouts.

Why? Because most artists exist largely in isolation.

I launched the pilot course and it was a great success.

Although The MAKING Art Making MONEY Course pays back significant dividends to those artists who invest in themselves, the course isn’t cheap.

However, I’m still committed to my mission.

So I’ve just partnered with Creative LIVE to offer a FREE two-day live course on March 10th and 11th, that will reach their more than 1 million students worldwide.

If artists can’t make the free live course on March 10th and 11th, they can buy  it at a very reasonable cost and go at it at their own pace.

Craig Swanson, co-founder of Creative LIVE, is very excited about our partnership so we spoke yesterday for quite some time.

It was such a pleasure to connect with Craig and to affirm that we share the same values and core belief.

“Every artist is an entrepreneur. Every entrepreneur is an artist.”

Sometimes Artists just have to…Quit!

Written by Ann Rea on . Posted in INSPIRATIONS

Sometimes artists just have to…quit!

That’s what I did. In fact, I didn’t paint or draw anything for over seven years.

What happened? I developed chronic anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

Then I began painting again to help quiet my mind and loosen the stranglehold of anxiety.

I had no intention of showing my paintings to anyone, let alone any intention of selling them.

Eventually I made a commitment to build a profitable full time creative enterprise.

I defined a unique value proposition and a target market.

I found my muse, the press found me, and I made money.

But then two vital strategic partnerships failed.

And guess what? I had to quit, again!

After I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I reached out to my mentors and I developed a new business strategy and defined a new target market.

It turned out to be a fantastic decision. My average commission price soared and I enjoy this new market so much more.

So sometimes it actually pays to just, quit!

But then you’ve got to adjust your attitude and get back on the horse. I was reminded of this today.

On March 10 and 11th I’ll be teaching a free two-day seminar at Creative LIVE.  So sign up now!

I’m inviting a diverse group of artists who I’ve worked with to share their successes, failures, and some of the lessons they’ve learned.

I phoned one artist who I worked with early on. Unfortunately, her creative enterprise wasn’t doing so well.

Racked with debt and disappointment it seemed that she was not generating much, if any, profit and she was just out of gas.

I was concerned and I wanted to help her.

She’s smart and talented. I know that there is a market for her work but her strategy is still off. But not completely off.

So I offered to give her a mini-marketing makeover via Skype on Creative LIVE, free of charge.

What happened? She got very defensive.

My lessons learned? I failed to communicate and I was reminded that path to hell is often paved with good intentions.

I could have connected her immediately with some key prospects and helped her tune up her business strategy.

But she didn’t ask for my help and the one thing I can’t help with is reversing an artist’s negative attitude.

The moral of this story?

Failure is inevitable.

Your attitude determines your recovery rate from failure and the quality of your relationships.

Therefore, your attitude is the very best indicator of your future success and your happiness.

If you have really tried and it’s just not working, admit it. There’s no shame in that.

  • As long as you take a break.
  • Rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul so that you can adjust your attitude.
  • Then get some help and get back at it.

Why? Because we can’t succeed alone.

Relationships equal revenue.