(Transcript) Artist & Mentor Ann Rea interviews her student Deborah Haynes Nelson, Artist Centralia, Kansas
Do you live in a small town?
– You won’t find it on a lot of maps, it’s in Northeast Kansas, and of about 500 people.
Is it possible to sell art in a small town?
And I have been selling art, so I guess it’s possible.
What were your challenges as an artist?
Frustration with the amount of money that went out to other resources instead of staying in my pocket.
– Like what?
– Well, it just seemed like the only way I had heard of making any kind of money was to either get in galleries or art contests.
Where did you sell your first piece of art?
Displayed art at a doctor’s office, the very first piece I ever sold was through that doctor’s office.
Avoid art contests and art galleries.
– A lot of artists spend a ton of money on these art contests which you’re chances are, it’s like winning the lottery, good luck. You’re gonna spend a lot of money, and not just the money, but the time. You can never get back.
– And then the rejection and you wonder is something wrong with you? There’s nothing wrong with you, there’s something wrong with art contests, that’s wrong. And then if you’re in a gallery, you’re not just surrendering half of the sales in commission, 50% commission, but if you can’t make a contact and have a relationship with that collector, you can’t get referrals.
– Which will generate over 85% of your sales. So, there’s more cost than you realize in general, that most artists realize in general, when they lock themselves into a relationship with a gallery. The gatekeepers are, you know, irrelevant, they’re not providing any value. A lot of times they’re actually stopping you from being successful, stopping you from connecting to your customers.
What else did you struggle with?
– Trying to figure out if I was really good enough. I’ve always had an issue with my worth and, I am not a trained artist, I understand that makes no difference now, but at the time I really thought I needed to go back and get yet another degree. I have an undergraduate in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Divinity and half of my doctoral work done in Divinity and then decided I really didn’t need a doctorate to do what it is that I want to do and now I’ve come to understand the same thing about my art through this program.
What if you earn an MFA?
– There’s a lot of artists also who do have art degrees for example, but then they think, oh, well then I’ve gotta get into one of the best MFA programs and then that’s gonna cost over $100,000 by the time you’re done, and more than that actually. And that’s not, I mean, I can’t tell you how many MFAs we have that haven’t really sold much, if anything.
How can you find your purpose?
This whole inner yearning that we have as people to know our purpose. What’s my purpose? What’s the purpose of life, what’s my purpose here in the world and I got, you know, quite annoyed by Simon Sinek saying, “Find your why,” without really clear instructions on how to find your why.
– So we have in the program a process and it’s a very simple process by which you can find your why. And you find your why based on your own inner authority, not someone bestowing it upon you. And it sounds like you had done, based on your comment, you’d done some searching on the subject and then you found that the Visioning course, which is one of eight courses, really got you there quickly.
You already have a purpose.
I promise you your Why is already there.
– Yeah, yeah.
– It is.
– It is, and the what just flows out of that so naturally.
– Yeah, yeah, I mean I had my why, my purpose I already had in place, it was just a matter of applying it to the art, so–
– Yeah, and you literally were carrying it around in your pocket for years.
How does your purpose relate to selling your art?
– Four Part Code is what we’re referring to right now. A lot of artists wanna know their niche, they wanna know, how can their offering be different from other artists and who will be interested in buying it. But you can’t answer those questions until you understand two very underlying questions. First underlying question, the most important, is what is your why? And that’s who you are as a person, not as an artist, but as a person. Who are you, what do you stand for and what do you stand against. You have to have both of those and then based on that why, then you determine, and it flows very naturally, what is the problem we’re solving based on your why? So you don’t have to construct your what it’s just an extension of your why and then your how is how you are going to use your art and your other resources and skills. And you have other resources and skills as a retired Minister and Social Worker, so I imagine you’re drawing on many different skill sets. You combine that, those skills those resources with your art, that’s how you’re gonna solve the problem worth solving. And then finally, then you can ask well who has the problem and who can afford to buy your art and that’s your target market. That is a very quick summary of the Four Part Code, but it really isn’t much more complicated than that. And it’s a process and you have to trust the process and if you fight the process you’re gonna be miserable and if you trust the process it’s gonna come to you.
Who is your target market?
– I really feel a strong connection with the rural area. I was born in a small town, I purposely turned down opportunities to serve in larger congregations because I felt like God wanted me in the rural area.
– Mmm hmm.
– And so whose my target market? Folks in the rural area, I mean it’s just so easy.
Are you selling your art in your small town?
I’m getting calls right and left from people wanting me to do commissions for them, particularly portraiture, and I tried to find their portraiture not in a formal setting but in something that means something to them.
– That affirms that, that sense of vocation, whatever that vocation is. It doesn’t necessarily mean their job.
– It’s kind of like their why, who they are.
– That’s beautiful because that is exactly, you’re doing exactly what I say, you know who you are, what you stand for, know what you stand against and there’s nothing artificial, there’s nothing forced, this is all a natural extension of who you are and all of your experience and education and wisdom from being a Social Worker, a Minister and coming from a small town and wanting to be in a small town. Like it just all works. I’m not surprised you’re getting calls for commissions because it’s very targeted.
– And if you try to be something for everyone, you would get no phone calls, none.
– I’ve been down that road, too. For this making art, making money and it doesn’t work.
Would you recommend this program to other artists?
Well, just today I was reading online of a friend that, well, she’s an artist acquaintance. I haven’t ever actually met her in person but we have visited online a time or two and she was boo-hooing about all of these different things and the first thing that came to my mind was, I need to recommend Making Art, Making Money to her. Because she wants to know what to do with the rest of her life, she’s been an artist for years, but it’s a matter of how to go about doing that, she’s tired of the competition and the aggravation of dealing with galleries and probably the same thing I was going through.