What Happens When An Artist Knows Their Creative Purpose?
– All right, my name is Ann Rea. I’m coming to you from San Francisco, California, and this is Nadine Prada, who’s coming to you from…?
– Toronto, Canada.
– Toronto, Canada! Our friendly neighbors to the north. So, I asked– Nadine is in The MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester. Some of you who attend the live webinars might know her as a member of our PITA Patrol. So she’s very great at moderating comments and getting rid of PITAs. But I asked her to have a chat with me because she learned something obviously, and she posted some of her progress in the private Facebook group, and I think that other artists, whether or not you’re enrolled in the Making Art Making Money Semester, can learn form some of the insights that you gained. So if you don’t mind, could I read a portion of what you posted?
– Oh, please do, yeah.
– Okay, so– just to give you some context, so, first of all, I’ll just read what she wrote– a part of what Nadine wrote. So she’s actually just beginning course three. There’s eight courses inThe MAKING Art Making MONEY Semester. Nadine is just finishing up course two, and she talked about a show opening she had, and she said last year at the same show I had a hard time keeping my spirits up. I made some great connections but sold only $475 worth when all was said and done, and I was left wondering what I was doing wrong, wondering if there was something that was just not coming across in my work. Truth be told I was also comparing myself to other artists who were selling well, and feeling like a loser. Who– what artist does not know that feeling?
– And I’ve– shit, then she’s wrote, “I thought I’d give it one last chance “before joining the semester “and realizing this is probably not the best way “to spend my resources.” So this year, since enrolling in this semester and only finishing the second of eight courses, Nadine learned what her creative purpose is, her mission, and she shared it. “I talked about my mission. “I sold over four times the amount from last year, “not even counting a lucrative commission “and at least three connections that could well prove to be “priceless in the months ahead.”
– Now, let me just ask you something. From this year to last year, did your art dramatically change?
– Not really, although I have to say it’s been… I would say my art has already been improving a little bit just because I’ve been working on the semester and finding my mission and I think I’ve just put a lot more passion and clarity into my work, but really it’s part of the same series I showed last year, and some of the pieces were the same pieces, so–
– You know, it’s really just how I was talking about it–
– to the people who showed up, and it was really connecting in a huge way.
– Yeah, so tell me how that– I mean, can you give me an example? Let me just actually– we traveled back to last year where you’re at the same exact show. You said you were– you weren’t feeling that great, so how were you feeling then, when you were– what was going on?
– Okay, so I showed up, I felt very proud of the work I had done, and I put it all up and it felt good, and I felt ready to meet all these new people that were gonna come to the fair. But by the fourth day– it’s a four day fair and it takes a lot of energy.
– That’s a long time.
– By the fourth day– yeah, by the fourth day when nobody had actually purchased anything, I felt kinda crushed. I felt like what am I doing wrong? What am I not getting? Because that was actually the third time I had done this fair, and I was just– I had come back ready to learn– you know, learning from the previous years and putting everything I thought I learned into action,
– but nobody was closing the deal. Nobody was handing over their credit card. So I was looking around and going, you know, what am I doing wrong? Because I was opposite someone who sold 42 pieces, and it’s really hard to not compare yourself when you’re standing there selling zero and they’re selling 42 pieces, right? And you’re thinking what am I doing wrong? And I– you know, “I know better” than to not compare myself because… You know, I was
– We understand it, but it can be a habit.
– Yeah, and when you’re in a fair like that it’s kinda hard not to compare yourself because you’re in this really competitive situation, you and 250 other artists, it’s hard not to compare yourself.
– But this year…
– Yeah, what changed?
– Yeah, so what changed was I wasn’t really talking about brush strokes or the inspiration behind my work. I was talking about the meaning behind my work, and I was talking about– kinda like the reason that I paint– what I paint, and whenever I did that, the person, really, you could feel them connecting to it in such a deep way, and–
– Do you remember one example of– this year, of a person who connected? But what did that look like?
– They were just wandered into my booth, and we just started a conversation and they actually ended up staying for like 25 minutes, maybe half an hour. They bought multiple copies of a limited edition print that I had there, and it was because other things that we talked about really resonated very, very deeply. Just beliefs that we have as people, and they were able to connect to the reason why I made that piece of work.
– You know, you could tell that it was going to remind them about that mission when they hung it on their wall.
– So they felt it.
– They felt it very deeply and so did I. And it made me a lot more confident, so you know, I wasn’t hesitant, I was just very confident and I thought if this really resonates with someone and it’s for them, that’s great, and if it doesn’t, that’s great too.
– Right, exactly. One of the things that– one of the big, underlying principles that I teach in the Making Art Making Money Semester is… And this is actually where a lot of the disconnect comes from. As artists we do not sell goods. We don’t sell services. We sell emotion. Emotion is actually our product. So you discovered that in that moment, right? You had an authentic emotional exchange with these people, and now here’s the great thing. Because you were not in a gallery that blocks you from connecting to these people, or an agent from connecting, or just an anonymous online situation. Do you think you’ll connect with them again or they might tell their friends who might come back to you?
– Absolutely. I actually have– there were a pair of people that saw some work on my wall who talked about the reason why I painted it, and the mission and the meaning behind everything, and they’re actually taking a trip to where these paintings… You know, they’re taking a trip there, and they’re planning to come back and buy more of my work based on–
-It’s crazy. And they also bought from me this year.
– So they’re… I feel like these people are kind of part of my family now.
– Well yes, no, it’s– yeah! So, there’s another thing I teach which is relationships equal revenue, which might sound crass but it’s actually just a fact. If you provide value, someone gives you– provides value back, an exchange, and so this is great. So now you’re creating relationships that are gonna lead to repeat sales, they’re gonna lead to probably referrals and introductions to other people, ’cause they’re gonna share that story. When people go on a trip they talk about it with their friends, and so you’re gonna come up in conversation.
– Yup. And the other amazing thing about being able to talk about my mission is that I had actually– this is like, blessings from the universe or something. I was being a little bit of a chicken I have to admit. There was a company that I wanted to approach, and I’d been following them for a little while, and one of the best friends of the owners came and met me on the opening night, and we talked about my mission and I talked about events that I wanna start doing so that I could give people the feeling of being very connected, and his business is all about that, and he said, “Oh you should talk to “this winery that I know.” And it was the same people that I’ve wanted to approach. He’s– they’re dear friends, and meetings are already in the works.
– So now– let me just ask you, if you traveled back in time a year ago when you did this event, do you think you would’ve been in this frame of mind where that meeting or that conversation would occur? Or would you be all down in the dumps?
– I would probably… I don’t even know if that conversation would’ve happened because I wouldn’t have really known to talk about the meaning behind the work, and my purpose and all of that sort of stuff. I would’ve been stuck in this– you know, are they responding to the work or not? You know, are they–
– Ready to buy or not.
– Yeah, exactly, right? Like: what can I do? Instead of what can I do to sell a piece of my work, now I’m thinking how can I help these people or can I help these people?
– We know that’s the– that’s it. So that’s it. That’s where– If you get nothing else from this chat with Nadine, remember that. You have to be honest with yourself, and the truth will set you free. If your primary concern is how can I get these people to buy from me, how can I sell my art, how can I sell my art, how can I sell my art? You’re not gonna sell your art. But if you can learn what your creative purpose is, if you can define a mission and you can offer value above and beyond your art, clear value, meaning we’re not guessing, and you deliver that to a target market, then you’re good, right? And how does it– doesn’t it feel better? I mean I always felt like– it feels crummy when you’re just trying to get into somebody’s wallet, you know?
– Yeah, it doesn’t feel authentic.
– No. And it feels like if you’re really like– don’t you feel much more proud of what you’re doing now? Even though your art has not changed dramatically in form.
– I do.
– Don’t you feel more proud?
– I do, and it’s exactly what you say, Ann. I really feel like I gave them value above and beyond my art, and I really feel like even if nothing else were to happen, the conversations that I had this weekend, you could tell that things were shifting in people, just even from the conversations that we were having, and just talking about this topic in general, and they had this problem that I can help them to alleviate,
– And it was already working just in the conversations. So I feel so amazing and I can’t believe that if this can happen just after the second level of my–
– Like what is gonna happen to me at the end of eight. I just cannot wait, I’m so–
– It’s all up to you, you know? You get to decide. You’re gonna create the results. And I love that… That Ruth Ann Clayton came out. So one of the other students who was enrolled in the Making Art Making Money Semester– I’ll just read this bit, because you know what? You can’t do this alone. It’s too hard, it’s too lonely, and it’s not any fun if you try to do it by yourself. But, so although I have students all around the world, these two actually met up in person, and Ruth Ann came and brought her flowers, and she showed us a picture, and I just wanna read this one other part where you said, “Like so many of us “have seen in our lives, “this stuff works like magic “once you put it into practice. “You have to put it into practice.” And then just– she posted a beautiful photograph of these flowers that were gorgeous, and that just makes it more fun. Here’s the thing. Unfortunately a lot of artists are operating with scarcity, and so they become really competitive with one another, and jealous, and sometimes even backstabbing, or really snobby. I don’t see any of that in here
– No There’s only Matt, we’ve met in real life three times now, and I see her like she’s practically my sister. This lady is wonderful, she’s– I went to one of her events through finding out about her in the semester,
– I saw that.
– and now here she came not once but she came twice. Super supportive, just full of amazing energy, and yeah. You know, the connections that we make in this group are just priceless, just really priceless, and they keep you going, and you know, it’s–
– That part– I just love to hear that part, because I think that that’s so important. Like I said, it’s just too… It’s too hard and too lonely to try to do this by yourself, and so that’s what I wanted for my students, and that’s what– that’s kind of what’s broken about online education is that you just kind of have to get through it on your own will power, and that– it’s too hard. It’s easier when you have study partners who you know, love you enough to come out and bring you a bouquet of flowers.
– I know. And the other thing I absolutely love about this program that I haven’t really experienced with anything else I’ve tried is that you really– you don’t want a bunch of students, Ann. You want people to go out there and put these things into practice, and they work. Like, I can’t thank you enough. I just love this program, I can’t– I just– I’ve racked up also at this art fair. There were a few artist friends that I know that were getting a little discouraged ’cause they weren’t selling anything, and I said, “I have something to share with you.” And I’m gonna be floating from the length to like, our–
– our Saturday webinars, and I have a feeling–
– Yeah, if you come to the webinar– so just everybody just say you know as long as you’re willing to– if you wanna learn, and you’re willing to contribute to the conversation, you’re welcome to attend the Making Art Making Money Semester live trainings. They’re free, so yeah. Have them come.
– Great. So you got a bunch more people who are gonna be showing up for the first two, so–
– I bet they join the program within a little while too.
– Awesome. That’s wonderful. So what’s– so if you had to give one piece of advice to artists who are listening, or maybe even if you had a time machine you could travel back to where you were a year ago, at this show, feeling all glum.
– What would your advice– by the way this is my puppy Rebel, everybody, if you’re wondering who, that’s Rebel.
– What would you tell them? How could you help them? What would you say?
– I would say, um… Well first of all, I would– I wish I had found this program years ago, because I was trying to connect the dots to my work rather than to how I could save or how I could help these people, so it’s really about being authentic and connecting just on a much deeper level, and when you can give people value, that’s when everything makes sense. That’s what they’re paying you for, really, service that you offer. And if you can talk about the purpose behind your art, then everybody wins. And you feel like you’ve given a really good value exchange. You don’t feel apologetic. You feel very confident, and you feel proud of the work that you’re doing, and you know, it’s just such a good feeling. And it also feels like I own every single part of myself. All of my previous skills, not just my art, but everything that I’ve learned in my life I can actually give to someone. I think that’s why it’s so profoundly gratifying is that I feel like I’m really giving something really special that I’ve learned in my life experience, and these people need that. It’s amazing.
– All this time. I love it. How wonderful. Well, Nadine thank you so much for being willing to chat, and congratulations on your success. I’m 100% confident that you will be graduating soon. To officially graduate you need to earn back your tuition investment at a minimum, so I have every bit of confidence you will do that, and thank you for letting other artists know that there is an alternative available to them that’s–
– My pleasure.
– I think it’s healthier. I’m biased, but… And thank you for being PITA patrol.
– Oh, you’re welcome. I actually got a lot out of it too
– With PITA patrol, I can focus on delivering the training, and when PITA patrol agents focus on right lend and PITAs. By the way PITA stands for Pain In The Ass, that’s what it stands for
– You don’t have that many, usually.
– No, actually we don’t. It seems like the PITAs have– they’re not showing up like they used to.
– I never had that many, but– I had a few that were disruptive, and yeah, they don’t seem to show up. I don’t seem to be…
– That’s probably ’cause they know that there’s now a PITA patrol, sothere’s no point.
– And he has been deputized.
– Oh my God. It was such a pleasure.
– You’re gone, people.
– No, it’s a pleasure talking to you, Ann. It’s been great.
– Well, my pleasure. I love to– actually I don’t get to– this is the only way I get to meet my students, so I’ve been doing more of these, and I’m gonna keep doing more of these because it’s fun.
– Yeah, and we get a lot out of it too, so thank you
– Good. All right. And also see you in Facebook group, and look forward to hearing more success stories from you.
– Absolutely. Okay, thank you.
– All right, take care.
– Thank you, okay, bye.