Review of Ann Rea’s Making Art Making Money

June 16, 2016

oil paints and brushes

Cost: $2000.00 3 month payment plan available at the time  I signed up.

I first came across Ann Rea at the Berkeley Public library several years ago when she was giving a free workshop on selling art. She had a very fresh approach to the whole process of making and marketing art. She is a talented fine artist who worked a string of corporate jobs after art school and then realized she really wanted to paint full time. She took the risk of sending some of her work to Wayne Thiebaud for a critique and good thing she did because she ended up being mentored by him.

She was struck by the unbelievable reality that Thiebaud himself did not know the first thing about selling art. He said: I’m not a business person I am artist. Ann with her sharp ability to cut through the crap thought “I bet the IRS does not see it that way.”

This led her on a journey to learn the business of selling her own art. She has a very robust blog with a lot of great material about how to avoid the traditional fine art path of galleries, agents and middle men who suck artists dry and leave them in “starving artist mode”. 

I took a short online course with her through Creative Live and really liked it so I had been saving up to take her more in depth course. Her material is brilliant but I felt that the in depth course was a bit over priced for the amount of content that was included. Much of it reiterated the other courses and blog entries she had. There was a weekly webinar call included. But It felt like some of the material was repackaged and re-purposed to make a more robust course but it felt a bit thin.

The artist interviews were the most valuable part, and helped me to get a feel for how other artists are applying the principles she created. She tries to make it mandatory for artists in the course to work together because we will have to present the ideas we come up with to the world so why not get started? Many people in the course did not want to do the interpersonal part of the course or do the exercises full out which was fine.

I know Ann put a lot of work and thought into this type of marketing. One of her biggest ideas is that marketing art is different from marketing other things, so we need a different approach. The idea is to not sell art but find what the essence or meaning you are selling is. It is deep work and time consuming, not for the dabbler. I came up with ideas and offerings that I would not have thought of without this new paradigm Ann created. But I did this before signing up for the advanced course just through reading her blog and listening to her many talks and interviews.

Ann does not believe in online marketing for art, email marketing or anything but direct contact with your customers once you figure out a very narrow specific niche. She does not believe in going the traditional route of selling art through crafts shows, art shows, galleries, showing work in cafes or any of the usual places artists congregate. She believes in a direct approach through creating relationships with people so she is not as flexible as some of the other courses I have taken about selling to many different venues, such as retail stores, or traditional places where others are clamoring to sell art. This can be a very empowering position; unique and smart but for some items it may be more restrictive than necessary.

In any case I think Ann Rea is a great resource for creative people who want to find ways to make a living with their creativity. Though I might not suggest the in-depth course unless you have a sizable disposable income. I would recommend scouring her entire blog for ideas on how to create a niche and a value proposition for your work. The Creative Live courses are a good place to go next after her blog.