Transcription Artist Mentor Ann Rea with Roxane Lessa, Fine Artist, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
As an artist, was your mindset?
– I think a lot of it had to do with it can’t happen right here, right now, where I’m at. Because I don’t have the right people in my milieu. I don’t have the right– I don’t know where to find the quote, “customers that have the big bucks.” I don’t, you know, it’s all about “I don’t. I can’t.” Because, wherever I’m at right now, here. It’s not sophisticated enough. It’s not wealthy enough. It’s not whatever enough. It’s not, you know? I was even–
As an artist, what was your biggest struggle?
I would say a lot of negative mindsets. Slash, lack of confidence. I’m not someone who’s– I’m someone who can focus really well, but the problem is I didn’t know where to focus. And the things that I was focusing on, were not yielding results. So it was very frustrating.
– Right. A lot of artists will say they’re having hard time, they have a hard time focusing and they label themselves that way. But in fact, what you just said is true.
– Artists are capable of tremendous focus.
– [Roxane] Yep.
– The distinction you just made is significant. That the struggle they’re having is not their ability to focus. It’s knowing where to start to sell their art.
– And if they start in the wrong place, or if they put the cart before the horse, then it’s just going to lead to a lot of frustration. And then that’s going to affect self-confidence.
How did you prioritize?
– I felt like I was focusing on the things that were comfortable for me to do. And that I knew how to do. But it still wasn’t yielding the results I wanted. So in a sense I was still shooting myself in the foot.
– You’re, yeah. So that’s an important distinction. We have a tendency to focus on the things that we’re comfortable with. But they may not be what we need to get done.
A radical new notion for artists.
– “So I want to say thanks to Ann Rea and this program. “I sold a commission this year. “What changed for me,” and she writes this in all caps. “IS THE CONVERSATION IN MY HEAD.” And that’s what I want to emphasize. Now it’s not just the conversation in your head. It’s the conversation in your head and then you took action. But you can’t really take any meaningful action without the conversation changing in your head.
– So she wrote, “From, I don’t know anyone “who will buy my art, want my art, pay what I want to get. “And so, I’m starting with my friends, right where I am.” Which is exactly where you start. You start where you are. “And I’m building my business right here, right now. “No, I don’t have to move to an exotic location. “No, I don’t have to make different kind of artwork. “I just have to be myself and do “what it takes to share my mission. “This is radical for me.” It is radical. Like, that’s absolutely radical for artists. Because they’ve taught that they need to write one of those dreadful artist’s statements.
– I know, right? Which I have taken off of my website, by the way.
– Doesn’t it, do you feel a relief?
– Yeah, I never liked the thing anyway.
– Nobody does.
– No, and I’ve–
– Everybody freaking hates them.
– And the funny thing is that some of the art, you know, the art quilters that I’ve coached. You know, I said, “Okay, I suppose we have to. “We have to talk about making your artist’s statement.” And they didn’t like it and I didn’t like it. But it was kind of like the thing that they had to kind of have in their back pocket.
– See that’s the thing, you gotta. Look, if you want to succeed in this world of selling your art you have got to question the rules. Because the rules have been handed down by the art establishment. And those rules are designed to limit you.
– [Roxane] Mm-hmm. So, if you don’t want to be limited in your effort to sell your art, then you have got to really question these rules. And if they don’t serve you.
– If they don’t give you energy, there’s no point. It’s really simple. Does this act–
– [Roxane] Yeah. Does it give me energy? Does it leave me flat? Or does it suck my energy?
How did you sell your art?
– I didn’t talk about my art. I didn’t talk about how I made it. I didn’t talk about any of the technique, any of the artisty stuff. I didn’t talk about any of that. What I talked about was the love that my friend and I have for each other. And that I stand for that kind of beauty in the world. And I don’t stand for fear, and letting things get in our way. That’s–
– So it’s not like you shared your mission.
– I shared my mission and I shared. And I appreciated my friend. And people said that they were really moved. And, I sold $1,100 worth of art. But I didn’t sell. That was the beauty about it. It was so easy.
– It is easy.
– It’s so beautiful and easy and fun. And just effortless.
– [Roxane] Great.
– And natural, right?
– Natural, completely.
– Did you ever feel like you were selling yourself?
– [Roxane] Not at all.
– Did you ever feel like you were selling out?
– No. No.
– Exactly. Would it be easy to do this again?
– Yes. Totally. But, you know, it’s like I have to have a reason for the party, beyond my art.
– Exactly. That’s it.
– You know, the art was an expression of the emotion that I felt for my friend or the art was an expression of the joy in that I want to promote in the world. That’s what it’s there for, but, and that’s why I do it. But it’s not about the art.
– Yeah, and I mean, it. The art is a result of the underlying mission.
– That’s, I mean, you obviously need both, right? But, it’s the inspiration for the art. Is what, why people will connect to you and the things you create, or not. And or not is okay too.
– Yeah. Yeah.
What have you agreed to as an artist?
– There’s a lot of unspoken agreements. Like, I have to write an artist’s statement. Or I have to give a discount to someone if they’ve purchased my art before. I don’t where these agreements, you know, came from. But I know the original source is, generally, it’s the art establishment. Gets handed down. It comes from a sense of scarcity. And you wrote, “There’s a lot of agreement “in the quilting world for entering quilting competitions. “Showing your work.
– [Roxane] Yes.
– “Showing versus selling, to get exposure. “Whatever the hell that means.”
– “Get teaching gigs, awards.” Awards. They can’t deposit an award in your checking account.
Art contests are a waste of time and money.
– It’s less direct and it’s still a crapshoot. You don’t know.
– Well, it’s, it’s a– That’s it, it’s a crapshoot. And so the point is, do you want to put all this effort into showing your art and maybe, maybe getting a result that you want? Or do you just want to go directly for the result?
– [Roxane] Yeah, right.
– [Ann Rea] Selling your art.
– So, you said that, “And I’ve been there, done that. “But didn’t net as much income as I wanted. “And it’s not as satisfying as selling my own art. “Plus it’s time consuming and expensive.” Now that’s the key. I, you know, do the math. You can, you may have had some results. Like monetary awards. But if you, if you added up a column of all of your time, material, and expenses.
– And put that against what you actually, sold, or the monetary benefit you gained. I just have to wonder if you really do have a positive ROI.
– I, I doubt it. Because I was showing and entering these shows for years.
– Exactly. So once, but– ‘Cuz artists will argue, “Oh, well, I did get an award.” I’m like, okay, that’s great. Let’s add up all of the time, materials, travel, shipping, photography, framing, whatever was involved. Don’t forget your time. Your hours, log your hours. And assign a monetary value to each hour you invested. Come up with that total and compare that to, what you actually gained from all that effort for all those years. And you, somebody show me positive ROI. And I can’t find anyone who can.
Should other artists apply to enroll?
– Yeah. Pretty much. I would have them ask themself the question do you want this to be a hobby, or do you want this to be a business? And if your answer is you want it to be a business, hell yes. Do it. Do it. Because it’s–
– By far, and I’ve tried lots of other coaching programs. Books, you know, all of the above. I’ve tried it, I’ve done it. And by far, I think this course has really got me the closest to where I want to be.
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