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Artist Ann Rea
Confidence and Inner Resources
annreaSquaredOK I admit it. I watch American Idol.  And when I do,  part of my fascination is watching what's required of these emerging artists.  Many haven't found their true voice and clearly their skill requires honing.  Obviously it’s about their talent but the underlying story is their ability to weather the very public humiliation and rejection and still keep going.  It's like being in a Roman Colosseum battling emotion and ego. Artists engage in their craft because they are passionate about it.  It gets them high, so to speak.  What an artist shares comes from the depths of their heart.  So rejection and criticism can be biting, at the very least.  Of course, we don’t have to put ourselves out there. Except if you want to get paid, you do.  A plumber, a doctor, a financial analyst never has to deal with such deeply personal matters of rejection or acceptance. And when we place our treasured craft into the world of commerce we are subject to the market’s whims and we have to understand and play by the complex rules of business.  This does sometimes leave me feeling like I maintain a split personality. But I not only accept this, I embrace it.  The good news is that I’m only trying to win over a very select few, a clearly defined targeted market of art and wine enthusiasts. In fact, I thought that David Mathinson, author of “Be the Media” put it well.  He said you really only need a 1000 fans.  This is also a lesson taught by Chris Anderson, author of the “The Long Tail”. Anderson explains the new economics of culture and commerce and "why the future of business is selling less of more." Once I read my letter of recommendation from Wayne Thiebaud in 1999, I found one part most flattering, but also the most important thing I always remember is “She has a well-developed confidence and personal inner resources allowing her to use critical confrontation for positive results.”  Without this I think I'd be headed straight for the lions.
Reaching my Audience, my Collectors
[caption id="attachment_302" align="alignleft" width="287" caption="Artist Ann Rea"]Artist Ann Rea[/caption] This Saturday I attended the “Get Published!” conference sponsored by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association in Marin, California.  There where a number of inspiring speakers but one in particular drew my attention. David Mathison, author of “Be the Media”, began his presentation talking about the dwindling six major publishing houses and the troubles that they’re facing because of the fundamental shift in the publishing market.  “They’re like the Titanic. They can’t turn around.” The opportunity to publish is no longer just in the hands of a few select publishers; it’s in the hands of the nimble artists.  The market is moving away from a scarce model of a powerful few and placing that power into the hands of a number of independent artists, including authors, musicians, and film producers.  More specifically, the power belongs to those with creative capital who effectively leverage relatively easy and free access to their audience through new media. David Mathison intoned “Don’t chase the media, be the media.” And the artists who take the initiative to craft a meaningful message and engage their audience can do this.  I have and I will.  My website sales averaged 8% of my overall income in the past four years.  In 2009, that number jumped to 27%. This is exciting stuff.  A revolution is a foot.  And for those artists who recognize the creative capital that they hold in their hands and who are willing to do some left-brain thinking, they will rule the world.  This is also according to Daniel Pink, author of a Whole New Mind, about the current conceptual economy. I would argue that fine artists are the last in this line to catch on to the good news.  But it makes no difference.  The internet gives us marketing tools that are available to most everyone at any time, at a relatively low cost.  I mentioned this to David Mathison and he offered to interview me on his radio show.  That proved my motto, “asking is free.” What does this all really mean to fine artist like myself?  The playing field is being leveled and artists do not have to chase a scarcity model of gallery representation.   I can be the media and reach my audience, my collectors.