Leap Before You're Ready with Bibby Gignilliat

[00:00:00] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Hello. Hello my friends. It's Kellee Wynne of the Made Remarkable Podcast. Thank you for tuning in today on the very first day of summer, or if you're in the Southern hemisphere. I guess we could say it's the first day of winter. Either way, happy solstice to everyone. Happy changing of seasons and whatever that might bring for you.

I know that I'm really looking forward to this summer. And I have some interesting news, big announcements coming up real soon, but first I just wanted to remind you that it's the last week of the Virtual Arts Summit. Last chance to purchase it and make it yours so that you can enjoy it all summer long or in the coziness of winter, whichever season you're in.

And I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for supporting the summit for the fourth year for all the dedicated artists who've contributed. It's really been an extraordinary year. The art lessons have been fantastic. The. Creative community has just been growing. I know that we've had so many happy, wonderful experiences, including a live co-create last weekend as a bonus for those who purchased the virtual arts summit.

We're uploading that into the hub here, and a bonus $50 gift card to anything in the Color Crush Creative Vault. Those are all the extras you get when you buy a ticket, plus you get to keep it. So just a reminder to those of you who are on the free plan. That Friday's your last day, and then we're gonna transition, so, the artists that participated in the virtual Arts Summit, and also support the scholarships that I provide to those who need the extra support in their creative journey.

Tickets are on sale until Friday at midnight. And then we're gonna close the doors, and I'm just gonna give you a little hint of what's coming. This is my last year doing the Virtual Arts Summit. I know it's a huge announcement. I had to make some really serious decisions about the future of my business and what I wanted to do.

I don't know if the virtual Arts summit will come back in a different form in the future, but for now, I have to tell you, this is it. So if you've ever wanted to experience it now's the time. So, I will explain everything. Next week. I'm gonna have a little bonus episode for you with all the shifts and changes and plans that I have for the future.

So you won't wanna miss that. And I'll explain to you why this big shift with the Virtual Art Summit and with the art courses and the future of where made Remarkables going, because I promise you it's not going anywhere. And today we're just gonna go ahead and roll right into a really fun interview.

I have Bibby G. She is an amazing abstract artist. Her work has intrigued me for years now, and I've even signed up personally for her art course because I felt like she had something new for me to learn about collage and abstract art. I found this conversation really fun and freeing, and also a shift in how I think about my own studio practice, which I work out of the home, and I really appreciate that Biby has embraced working out of a collective community of art studios and other creatives and that that's really fueled her business.

So just tune in for this episode. Listen through and tell me what you think about how. Working and creating in a collective community. Would inspire you or push you to your next level. I know that it's really to helped Bibby take off. She took the leap before she was even ready and rented this gorgeous space and where she lives in Sausalito, California.

And from that, amazing things have happened. I have no doubt you're gonna enjoy this podcast episode and I look forward to chatting with you next week as well. I'll have another interview with a really delightful artist, delight Rogers, and I will come in with a bonus episode telling you where I'm at now with made remarkable and with my art career, because I think you're gonna wanna hear what I have learned experience and what my plans are for the rest of 2023.

Thank you so much. And now without much further ado, Bibby G.

[00:04:43] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Hello Bibby G I am so excited to have you on the podcast and I'm just getting to know you face-to-face for the very first time, so it is a pleasure to meet you.

[00:05:00] Bibby Gignilliat: Thank you so much for having me. I'm delighted to be here.

[00:05:04] Kellee Wynne Conrad: And I know you have such an iconic style. Most people, once they find you, they follow you and your work is just so recognizable, it's fun, it's interesting, and it's really full of life in detail. I know that this wasn't your first career though. When I was reading over your bio when you were 10, you were fully intending to be a. Full-time artist, but 11 year old, you had your heart crushed by a teacher.

I would love to start with how that made an impact on you and why it took you so long to get to where you're at now. What that kind of hindrance of adults in our life stopping us as children from pursuing our passion.

[00:05:50] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah, so I, when I was age 10, I would go every Saturday to this place close to my house where I would take art lessons and I got a lot of great feedback.

In fact, I won an award. And then I had a critical teacher when I got into seventh grade and became kind of a perfectionist, cuz I guess that's the age where we developed perfectionism and I stopped painting and the whole time I did other things. I knew I had the artist in me, but it went into hibernation so then you hear voices too, like you have to make a living and you think you can't make a living as an artist, which is such a falsity. and so I became a computer programmer. I was a bicycle adventurer tour leader. I worked at William Sonoma and marketing and ultimately I went to culinary school and became a, full-time cooking teacher.

And then ran a company for 20 years where we did hands-on cooking parties and corporate team building events. But that whole time, I knew in the back of my heart that I was an artist and I had this dream of having a gallery show. And one day I was sitting at my desk and I realized I was a total fake.

And I was doing some spiritual work at the time and it said, take a courageous action step. And so I was trying to figure out like, if I sold my company, what would I do? So I did two things. I, decided to take a six week, one night a week class with Nick Wilton, who's in the ICB building here. And I went to the Academy of Intuition Medicine and got a vocational degree in healing. But back to the art class, I took the class with Nick Wilton and I had so many voices in my head and I just wasn't getting it. And I was literally the worst one in the class. But what I did have was I had determination. So after the six week class, I decided to get a space in the I C B building. It was a hundred square feet I was sharing with a friend and I felt like an imposter.

I didn't even wanna leave the studio because I didn't think I was an artist. But I realized later on that it wasn't that I wasn't an artist, I just had to find my way within the art world. And I found collage through a teacher named Michael Cutlet, and then Carl Hayward. And I realized this is my arena was collage and that's why I wasn't really understanding some of the principles of Nick.

And I've since gone back to Nick Wilton's classes. After that I traveled with him quite a bit. And I was able to understand what I wasn't getting before. Right. So that exactly quick gist of it.

[00:08:31] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Sometimes it's what we don't know until we know enough to know what we need to know.

[00:08:36] Bibby Gignilliat: Exactly, exactly. And I realize I had to paint with paper

[00:08:39] Kellee Wynne Conrad: I love that paint with paper, but you do use paint as well

[00:08:44] Bibby Gignilliat: I do, and, and I've gotten into, some pieces now are fully paint, but I do love the materials and in fact, many times I'll be walking down the street and I'll find something on the street or on a building or whatever and I'll tear off the scraps and I realize that one scrap can inspire a whole painting or one piece of metal that I find on the street or whatever can inspire a whole painting.

[00:09:05] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yes, that's just like how my heartbeats as well, the materials, the scraps the papers, the bits like that leads to the inspiration. I think that's probably why I'm drawn to your work as well. I wanna go back to that time that you were actually running a successful business. Mm-hmm. One of the things that you said in your bio was that someone made a comment about how that business was run is like it's really more, instead of just cooking lessons, it's a lifestyle program that you were offering.

Yeah. And that's something about that clicked in your head and thats probably about when you were starting to make that transition. Is that correct?

[00:09:44] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah, so I was, I was speaking on a panel for MIT graduates and they kept referencing my business as a lifestyle business. And I was like, what? I'm working like 80 hours a week.

What are you talking about? Like, it was sort of condescending in hindsight looking at it. And then I thought like, okay, I. What kinda lifestyle do I want? Right. And I want a lifestyle that has more balance and that kind of thing, but I also really wanna feed my soul. And initially my business was feeding my soul cuz I realized I love, like, launching businesses and growing it in the creativity of it.

But then once it was a large business, I was in four cities at one point I had 60 employees. Oh wow. And um, I realized like all the joy had gone and it was really just operations and I don't wanna do that. So that's why, I delegated everything to my employees, which was one of the tenets of that wonderful book called the E-Myth.

Mm-hmm. I delegated everything. I had nothing to do. I would show up at work and I'd be like pushing papers around. I felt like a total fake. But the beauty of it all is it gave me an incredible business background, which I have brought forth into my art practice and a lot of. Ways that, that I'm different from other artists is I actually enjoy the business side.

[00:11:01] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yeah, I was wondering about that connection because there's no way after 20 years of running a business like that, that it wouldn't transpire into everything else that you do. You learn communication skills, marketing skills. You learn customer satisfaction skills, you learn how to work with employees.

That's a lot. Do you have anyone now that that's working for you? Do you, have you hired someone so that you can stay in that zone of genius a little bit more?

[00:11:29] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. I love that zone of genius. What I say to so many people I love about being an artist is I'm just right now the CEO of me.

Yeah, and I don't really want a lot of employees, however, I wanna be able to work on the business versus in the business. Mm-hmm. Which is another tenant of the E-Myth book. So in order to do that, I have hired contractors. I have a guy that strings my paintings and wraps them when they're going out.

I have a web designer who I talk to to update my website and she'll do like any kind of marketing promotion things and she helps me with my insight, two shots and that kind thing. And then I've got, an assistant that's coming today and she's gonna help me set up for my class this weekend, and then she'll come and help me. I do back-to-back classes cuz it's more efficient. Right. And so, she'll help me reset that up. And yesterday I had a, painting that needed to go to the post office and she took a to the UPS store and so I don't wanna be doing some of that kind of stuff cuz I wanna focus on the higher level stuff and creating,

[00:12:36] Kellee Wynne Conrad: well, I'll say that you have to make the art and no one else can do that. Yeah. So if other people can do the parts that other people can do, that leaves you to be able to do the part that only you can do. Which is something that I had to have a super huge mindset shift for myself as well.

I don't make as much art as I used to, but I do run on an online business and the part that I can do, the part that I must do. I need to be in that space a lot more often than I think. And so the only way to do that is to hire someone else to do the things that other people easily do for me.

Because no one else can be me and no one else can be you. And so that's the part that we have to make sure we're preserving our energy for and great point job more enjoyable. But yeah, because you don't really need a big team, you just have a few people who are going to take the load off. I would probably be more interested in selling my art again if someone was coming in and shipping this stuff for me, because that's the part, I don't wanna finish it.

I don't wanna have to paint the sides and put the wires on and pack it up and ship it off. Like if I could never have to do that, I would probably put my art up for sale a lot more often.

[00:13:44] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. And, and it's interesting cause one point I wanna share with your listeners is that you have to learn to like, Business or if you don't like it, you need to hire someone or get an intern, someone that wants to work for free, maybe, or, someone that will work for really not a lot of money if it's helpful or whatever.

Because it's just like, I don't really like to exercise, but I want to be fit and healthy. Mm-hmm. So I have to exercise. If someone wants to be a successful artist and I don't believe in the starving artist mentality. There is no such thing as a starving artist. I'm making more now as an artist than I did as a business owner.

Wow. Yeah. And let me qualify that I was not paying myself a lot as a business owner. Cause I was keeping a lot of the money in the business for the rainy day. But that being said, I think you can be a really prosperous artist. You just have to do the business and if you don't wanna do it, hire someone to do it or find your daughter's best friend to over and help you wrap the art or whatever it is.

If you don't wanna do that, you know what I mean?

[00:15:02] Kellee Wynne Conrad: I understand. I think that it's important that we learn all aspects of the business though before we pass. I agree. Otherwise it would be super easy for someone to take advantage of you, but also that's ownership of what you've done and what you've created.

Yeah. If you have someone else that can ship stuff, that can do your bookkeeping, that can maintain your website, and I'm not saying that we have to do that, but it is great. No, to get to the place sooner than later to do that. Because the only way you're gonna be able to make more money is to do the only thing that you can do, which is make more art.

Right? Totally. Or make more art courses, or do more coaching or consult with more people. Like the part that only you can, do, you need to do more of that and let more people assist you with like just answering the emails even. Right.

[00:15:47] Bibby Gignilliat: For sure. For sure. And you know, there's virtual assistants that, are in other countries , or in the United States. You know, all over the place. There's a lot of different ways to skin a cat.

[00:15:58] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Right. It's kinda like just shifting your mindset around the money , so say I hire, A virtual assistant in the United States and they're 20 to $30 an hour. And I do love working with people in the United States, but I have hired people in the Philippines as well.

But in the United States, they understand my language, right? Not just like they understand English, but they understand my cultural background because they are from the same area. So hiring somebody for 20 to $30 an hour for 10 hours a month, that's only two to $300 a month. Hire someone to take certain aspects off your hands.

So if you do that, How much more money can you make by gaining those hours back? Yeah. So once we have mindset shift about exactly. Getting the kinda support we need so that we can actually make more money, they'll pay for themselves. Mine have, over and over again, they pay for themselves. Right?

[00:16:52] Bibby Gignilliat: Totally. People always focus on the money, but you're absolutely right.

They pay for themselves because then it allows you to generate income by doing sales or by doing, creating more work or whatever you're best at.

[00:17:06] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yeah, exactly. Well, let's shift gears because I'm surprised that I like went down this route, but I think it's been heavy on my mind about, hiring and getting the kind of support you need because I think that's the only way really that we can succeed without burnout.

But I wanna go back, what year was it when you sold that business and switched into being an artist? I'm really curious about that timeline.

[00:17:29] Bibby Gignilliat: Sure. So I took my first painting class with Nick Wilton in 2014. Okay. And I got my space in the ICB a hundred square feet in 2014, and that's when I was feeling like an imposter.

And it was about five or six months later I started coming out of the closet you could say. And I did my first open studios and I sold eight paintings in my first open studios. I took the painting class in September and the following May, I did the open studios and Two years later, I got a studio within a suite of studios that was like 300, 400 square feet.

And I was selling more and more. and then I felt more confident to let go of my business because I was scared because I wasn't fully making a living as an artist. But I eventually sold my business in 2017. And then in 2018, I moved out into this huge studio space, which is 1500 square feet. And the front portion of the studio is sort of like a showroom.

Mm-hmm. And I sell a lot of art myself through my showroom. And in the back part, I teach classes and I knew in order to support this huge rent I would have to teach. And I remember talking to Nick Wilton about it, and I said, oh, I just don't feel ready. And this is another thing. He said, and also Marie Forleo and B-School talks about it.

It's like, start before you're ready. Mm-hmm. So I just was like, okay, I'm gonna have to support myself in this space. If I did one class a month, I could pretty much cover my rent. So I started teaching, in person and I practiced on two friends, and actually I did it twice. I first practiced on a private client that wanted to come in and take a lesson, and so everything I taught 'em, I wrote down and then I created these detailed notes and then I tried it again on two friends and they gave me feedback and then I just went live and the first class sold out and they've pretty much sold out ever since then.

[00:19:28] Kellee Wynne Conrad: I wanna make note on that really important factor is that you. Practiced it first. Mm-hmm. And I love that something that we kind of miss in this industry. Like, okay, well I have some followers on Instagram and I love making art. I'm just gonna throw this thing out here without actually testing your ideas and your theories.

And I'm really encouraging all of my clients and my coaching program to practice and test it first because we get so much feedback from that. I know some of the first art classes I was teaching, I'm like, things that I just thought were a given and understood students were struggling with. And so you get a lot of, a lot of feedback from that.

And then also I love the fact that you're like mentioning that whole start before you're ready. Nick Wilton is a very well known in our industry. He does a C V P program and I can see how that can be an influence on almost on so many people in our industry. I love that you were able to connect with him and move into this space so quickly.

so where you're at, at the I C B building, I'm assuming it's all artists filling up that space?

[00:20:38] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah, it's 180 artists and then there are a few businesses, but they're creative businesses which are on the first floor cuz they're retail spaces down there.

But yeah, 180 artists and I would say about 50% of them are really active. 50% are doing it kind of like they may only come a couple times a year. They don't take it that seriously, but I'd say 50% are really active.

[00:21:04] Kellee Wynne Conrad: That energy must really shift how you really see yourself as an artist and then also the exposure that you have in connecting.

I know when I first started, when I came back into the art world, the first thing I did was go and join Maryland Federation of the Arts. Because when you're surrounded by other people who do what you do, not only do you learn from them and get the encouragement, but then you make the connections for all the things that happen following that.

So because of finding Nick Wilton and finding the I C B building and then growing from there, I think that's a really cool leaping point for you having your artwork that you can sew right out of your space. And how has it inspired you, like being around all that energy?

[00:21:48] Bibby Gignilliat: Well, let me just backtrack a little bit to something you said earlier.

It's so right on. It's really important to be surrounded if you can, by other artists. And I'll tell you a few stories. I've gotten probably 20 people into this building since I've come in. And people that I'll meet at art classes and, and people that I'll meet out in the world, and I cannot even tell you, almost every single one of 'em said, oh, I don't need a studio because I've got something at home.

And I'm like, no, that's not right. Now, let me rephrase that. It's not that it's not right, it's just that they don't realize the incredible benefit of being inspired by being around other artists from several perspectives number one, we all help each other creatively.

Like if one of us is stuck, you can call someone to come over and they'll have really good insights and feedback on why maybe a piece isn't working. If you hear about a call for a opportunity, we share it with each other. I've set up a ton of, Educational programs within the building.

Like this year alone, we had, interior designers come in and talk to us about what interior designers are looking for. A gallerist panel that tell us what, galleries are looking for. We can ask them questions and learn from them. And then we had a mentor panel this year.

So all these kinds of things are learning opportunities. There's something going on this week with artwork archive where artwork archive is doing a live demo for people in the building. So we collectively our powerhouse and can bring in Sennelier, and they do demos and that kind of thing.

And then we have critiques and ultimately we've done these several artists, Open Studios events. We do two big open studios events a year where we get all gussied up, but then we do two open studios events where the artists can come in and we call them artists at work events. And we're actually working and people can come in and learn about our process and that kind of thing.

And a lot of us get students that way. So several of us in the building teach in our studios. And people can just learn the story behind the art cuz so many people wanna know the story behind the art and connect directly with artists. So those are some of the benefits of being in a space like this.

[00:24:12] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Well, it just comes back to money again, because there's no reason to like put your full energy into being a full-time artist if the goal isn't to support yourself. But it's like being in a space like that allows you the opportunity to make more money to sell, totally more, to make, like you said, to make those connections so that leap before you're ready is actually putting you in a position to succeed much quicker, I think.

[00:24:39] Bibby Gignilliat: Totally. I mean, yesterday I was in my studio working and I didn't have an appointment with this woman, and she knocked on my door and she's an interior designer and she took six, 24 by 24 paintings out on approval. And I mean, it would've never happened if I'd been working in my garage.

Right? And so the mindset has to be taking the leap and the net will appear. So taking the leap and the risk of getting the space and then it all starts happening, right? So I can't leap before your, you know, leap and the net will appear is one of my biggest mantras.

[00:25:14] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yeah. well that's a lot about, our mindset and the energy we put out and how we connect with the world.

And when we are in that zone, when we're in that alignment, I think it's only natural that more goodness is gonna follow through. Of course, we have to work for it. It's not like you can just say, I'm gonna be an art artist and not show up for it. But the more you show up, I think that's really what the key is, is like showing up and having belief.

Even when you have imposter syndrome, which, how long does it really take for imposter syndrome to really go away? We get better and better, but there's always that next level, that next devil, right? So Totally. I mean, that's normal. And so sometimes it's like we just have to. We just, we just have to suck it up and do it even when it's really hard.

[00:26:03] Bibby Gignilliat: Totally.

[00:26:05] Kellee Wynne Conrad: So teaching has been a really good idea for, and I know that you said you don't plan on doing it full-time, it's just something to supplement what you're doing. And you did put out an online course, which I am grateful for because I learned a lot from it. It's not full of fluff, it's like right and direct to the point.

And I learned a lot of techniques and ideas that I had never even thought of before. So, you'd for sure have a different point of view. I love how you said you just collect, when you see like billboards on the sides of the walls and just different scraps and bits of whatever juiciness that you see that you wanna use to inspire your work.

[00:26:46] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. So what happened was I had no intention of doing an online class. Because my goal is to make art, right? Mm-hmm. However, COVID came around and I was working in the ICB pretty much by myself, cuz a lot of people weren't coming in during Covid. And so it was very lonely time and all my income went away.

Mm. Because people couldn't come to take online classes. People initially were not wanting to engage or do you know, like initially they weren't buying art. Eventually it turned to the other way. People tend to stop during uncertainty and they freeze. And so that's what happened. And so I was like, okay, how am I gonna make a living?

And people from around the world on Instagram and other ways were reaching out to me, wanting me to teach an online class. So I thought, what the heck? And so I. Put together an online class and I didn't know what to expect. My goal was to get a hundred people and I got a hundred on the first day and now that's ballooned up to over 800 people from around the world.

It's self-paced self-study, so people can do it at their own convenience, but it really saved me during a time of, no income. But I also ended up really enjoying it and I realized it was a lot, like I used to do a lot of cooking demos on TV and that kind of thing. And so it was very much the same thing.

You have to get everything all set up so that the camera can turn off and you can pull the one that's done out, you know, that kind of thing. And so it was very similar to that. So I really enjoyed it. And I had someone that was, He's actually a real estate agent that was just wanting a little supplemental income, but he was really clever and so he did the filming of it.

And again, I did it for friends. There were a couple friends in the room and so they gave me feedback and anything that didn't work, we fixed. And then I launched it and then there were a few things that I needed to change. And so I changed it over time and added many more modules. So, I feel like it's a really good value. It's $197

[00:29:00] Kellee Wynne Conrad: oh. We wanna make sure that people are finding you and signing up. I loved the course especially because I'm now, more advanced level, I don't need beginner intro, even though I think somebody who's completely new at art could take this and learn from it.

But as someone who's more advanced, I loved it because it was giving me insight that I didn't actually know about. Working large and working in the style that you work and working abstract, and then even some of the materials you use, it was like, oh, so for me, the price is very reasonable, but also just knowing that I can even get one big aha out of a course makes a huge difference to me.

But I got several. Don't worry. I got several, especially like just learning about the materials that you use and whatnot. It makes sense though that you went online in 2020, which many people did. And I'm glad things shifted too, that people started buying art, but now we're here again in another precarious financial, who knows what's going on.

I'm so tired of it. I'm sure you're tired of it as well. But having those different streams can help. However, I always caution the people who I work with, and especially my listeners, is to put all your focus and energy into one thing first. So you put all your focus and energy first into making art and supplementing it like once a month to teach so that you can make sure that the rent was covered.

Really all your energy is in making art and selling art. How did you find, I'm gonna make an assumption that the building that you're at helped, but how'd you find buyers so quickly and start finding collectors, interior designers and such to keep the work going?

[00:30:43] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah, so I can say a bunch of different things.

One of the things that I did early on, and I did take Marie Forleo's B-school class and she talks a lot about how people, a lot of times focus on Instagram and Facebook to get people, and that's another stream that's really valuable. However, that is owned by Facebook. Mm-hmm. Facebook owns Instagram and they're gonna change the algorithm, which we have been thankfully dealing with.

Yeah. And right now, Instagram is just nothing what it used to be. I was an early adopter, and I loved it. And I didn't really have very good art at the time, so I didn't really get a lot of followers. But then I chose to, and this is a side note, I chose to do reels. I'm always watching trends and I realized, oh, they're competing with TikTok.

And so about two or three years ago, whenever reels came out, 2020, I decided to start showing tip tips and tricks on, reels. And I would post a reel and I remember one of them got 675,000 views. And from there it would be very common that in a day I would get that day. I think that I did that one.

I got a thousand new followers. Right. It's really slowed down and I'm not focusing so much on that because of the very reason of what Marie Folio said. But what I also did early on was I had a big LinkedIn network and I also had a big friend group cuz I've lived in the Bay Area for many years. I put 'em all into my database on MailChimp.

[00:32:25] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yeah. Which is the key - you have to build your own list because it's something you can really rely on.

[00:32:30] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. And I have now, and it's not that many, it's a lot compared to most artists, but not compared to like a Nick Wilton or a business. I have like 3,400 emailers emails.

Yeah. And like I'm adamant about it at every open studios, when people come in and they're interested in either art or my classes, I have someone help me. And this is a big key, like someone helps me at Open Studios because sometimes I'm a little shy about, not so much talking about the art, but when it comes time to closing the sale, I have a friend that's a lifelong salesperson.

Mm-hmm. And she can talk to anybody and. I'm actually, people think this is funny, but I'm actually kind of introverted. So at Open Studios, after all day of talking to people, it gets a little bit hard. So I have a friend help me and that's easy. People can get a friend to help. And I put her on a little commission and so she helps me sell at Open Studios, and then she helps me gather names in my database.

And I have it on an iPad that's connected to MailChimp. So it just integrates and we collect names all day and it just automatically flows into MailChimp and I have them type it in because more often than not, you can't read the name in the guest book that they sign. So that's helped. So I do an email to my list at least once, if not twice a month.

And in there I show the art in Situ two. If you say that, I'm not quite sure if that I'm saying it right, but I did that early on. I've been doing that for. Years. I don't use any of the canned, softwares because everyone looks the same. I do it with my designer and with iStock and, so I find really compelling settings and that allows the viewer to see what it would look like in their home.

But I also made a concerted effort early on to find a lot of interior designers and put them on my list. I found them through various ways, meeting them or, I advertised in the decorator Showcase and I got a lot of names that way of interior designers. And so those are just some of the examples, of ways I've gotten people.

And then I always try to have older work that's on sale in a sale bin. Cuz I wanna have something for everyone. So I have my more expensive work that's now here in my studio, but also in a gallery back east. but then I like to have some, demo panels that I use for my classes that I have in the sale bin.

And that way there's something for everybody here

[00:35:06] Kellee Wynne Conrad: so with your newsletter list, your email list, do you separate out those who are collectors versus those who are interested in workshops or?

[00:35:17] Bibby Gignilliat: I have them all coded, but I don't, right now, I, I send to everybody. And. One other thing I forgot to mention is I've sold a lot of artwork to people that have taken my classes cuz they're in my studio, they're surrounded by the art.

I offer friends and family discount at the end of the class, 15%. And many times people will wanna take something home at the end of the class.

[00:35:42] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Right. Because that's a, I hate to say it, a souvenir from the teacher, but it is, it's a connection we have with the teacher and a memory we wanna keep. Sure.

And usually the reason we're learning from a teacher is because we love the artwork that they make and we love to have it in our home as well. So that makes sense. Yes. Artists are collectors too. In fact, we tend to appreciate real artwork more than a home goods print because we know totally what goes into it.

As long as our budget can allow, that's the only challenges usually. Yeah. What kind of advice can you give, especially those listening to start growing their business as from the point of view of selling artwork, though, a lot of times I'm on my show talking about all the alternative ways, a hundred ways to make money as an art without selling your art.

I wanted to just really focus, cuz I knew having you come on would help us kind of shift the mindset to how we can actually make a good income just from selling our art. What are some bits of advice you can give our listeners about moving forward in that direction?

[00:36:51] Bibby Gignilliat: Well, again, I have to say like there's times when I make it makes me uncomfortable, but you just have to do it.

And there's a whole mindset that selling art is a bad thing. I had to work in this building for people to get over that mindset. It's not a bad thing. We need to make a living and there's nothing to be ashamed about about selling art. So that would be one of the mindset shift.

[00:37:15] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Bravo vo. Yes. This is one of the hardest things that, that for some reason we think it's shameful to ask for money for the thing that we create.

[00:37:24] Bibby Gignilliat: Totally. Right? Yeah. And, I think that you need to throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks. So some of the things that have worked for me have been, doing, believe it or not, some donations.

So I just recently did a donation for an organization. But the beauty was, I would get 50% for it as an auction item, and they sold it for more than I imagined. And so that got in front of a lot of people. So that was great. I've done some work with Google, a AdWords where you can just get, make sure that you're tracking for showing up high in the Google searches.

Mm-hmm. I've done some work around search engine optimization on my website so that I come up fast. I've done a lot of, promotion on Instagram through, just like I said earlier, doing reels where I'm giving someone something, but then they start following me and then maybe they'll see my art and buy something or they refer me to a friend.

Like I said, I have often, I'll do a sale program once a year that allows, like, for example, my class is on sale and also I have some key pieces of art on sale. I partnered with a gallery and my gallery just sold seven pieces last month or less while I was on vacation. So you wanna be making passive income while you're able to travel and that kind of thing.

[00:38:59] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Right. You have to have a big enough inventory, which means dedicating actual time to making art, which is awesome cuz that's the whole point in the first place.

[00:39:08] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. To make, and our building has done some programs where we've had, interior designer days and we're getting ready to do a designer event in the fall.

Because the beauty of connecting with a designer is they have project after project where they can recommend your work, unlike an individual who once they run outta wall space runs outta wall space. And so it's great when you can connect with a designer because they can keep promoting your work.

I've done a couple things online as well. I joined, Westover early on and it's an interior designer site where, your work shows to interior designers and individuals and they can buy your art that way. And I've joined singular art. Which is another art selling platform.

And they sold three large pieces last year and two of the three were going to Europe. So that was fun for me, to sell work going to Europe. So finding the right platform for you and your art, is important.

[00:40:06] Kellee Wynne Conrad: And not just relying on Instagram's algorithms.

[00:40:10] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah, cuz that algorithm has changed.

Every time I look through Instagram now, it doesn't even show me half the artists I followed. And I'm not getting nearly the likes that I used to get.

[00:40:19] Kellee Wynne Conrad: I've seen a lot of power washing videos lately. Yeah. Cause that's to be what they wanna show us. Like, come on.

[00:40:26] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. Ready? Like, yeah, it's funny.

So can't rely on that. And so figuring out what the next thing is, I'm kind of trying to figure that out right now. What is the next thing?

[00:40:37] Kellee Wynne Conrad: That's a good question because. The old way is still a good way, which like you said, is networking, getting to know people, getting them on your email list.

I've had other ideas in the past when I was really focused on selling my work, which in all honesty, I'm working towards doing it again because I had to let a few things go to make space to get back into the like real artist mode. But working with, real estate agents, Great idea.

They're moving people into new homes all the time. You would think that that would be a great way to find customers who need art on their wall. I have worked with interior designers as well. I love working with interior designers for the same reason. You said it's an opportunity to work with them over and over again.

My only caveat to that is I wanna keep making my work and have them come to me to buy my work. And I don't wanna do, like, you need this specific pallet done in this certain style. And, and where I live near Annapolis, it's always like sailboats and oysters. It's like, let someone else do that.

Come to me only for what I've actually made.

[00:41:41] Bibby Gignilliat: Sure I get that. I not really particular about commissions and I got some really good advice from someone around commissions early on. Which is let's say someone wants a 48 by 48. Do two or 3 48 by 40 eights and then they can pick the one they want.

Mm-hmm. And then the two is inventory for you. Right. And that allows you to be freer because you're not so constrained, by just trying to make this one piece right for them.

[00:42:12] Kellee Wynne Conrad: I love that advice yeah, that works really well. Also, I noticed, here's another little pointer, and maybe we can discuss this a little.

I looked at the art that you have on your site, and it's not cheap art, which is great. It's still affordable in my opinion, because I don't think I saw things that were priced over 10,000. But I see artists sell their work for so little, sometimes a 48 by 48, and they're selling it for $600, and I'm like, what's going on here?

That hardly covers your time and your materials. So can we talk a little bit about how pricing it. Appropriately and maybe a little bit higher actually can help you with your reputation.

[00:42:53] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. I think people almost, that's important. Yeah. I couldn't agree more. And I think people might think like, well, what's wrong with the art if it's priced too little?

Mm-hmm. I mean, it's really valuing your yourself and what you're providing. And so you can always offer a discount if you want. Although Marie Forleo makes a really good point on that too, where she says, you can always add value, but don't discount. So, for example, someone wants a big painting and they want a discount.

You can do a couple different things. You can say, oh, I'll cover the tax. Yeah. Or I'll cover the delivery and installation. Yeah. So you're value or you can take my class. Right. so I'm adding value, but I'm not discounting the work cuz that's not good.

[00:43:42] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Well, you do have work that you put on sale, but it's not the specific, like you're finished framed and showcased.

Gallery stuff is not the stuff that you put on on sale. So, giving a discount for everyone who comes walking in the door would mean that. It's like, can you just don't go to lunch today? Yeah. Amy like, yeah, I gotta eat this. Sure.

[00:44:04] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. And I do do, like the, the woman that came in yesterday was an interior designer and I do offer interior designers a discount cuz that's an industry standard thing.

[00:44:14] Kellee Wynne Conrad: It's industry standard. And so they can make a little bit of money as well.

[00:44:18] Bibby Gignilliat: Yes.

[00:44:19] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Right. So Exactly. So what is new now? Yeah, we can always brainstorm new ideas. I think with you having a business background and I'm just obsessed about marketing, I'm always like looking, I mean, is LinkedIn even in a possibility?

I'll tell you what is actually. Gaining traction as Pinterest. Have you worked with Pinterest at all to get your workout that way?

[00:44:41] Bibby Gignilliat: That's a great thing. I had done some coaching early on with, Alice Sheridan. Mm-hmm. Do you know her? Oh yeah. She and I are friends. Oh, okay. She's brilliant. She helped me with my online class and at that time I had asked her, what she thought of Pinterest and it was her top selling vehicle.

Yeah. And I personally, it's surprising. Yeah. I don't understand Pinterest. Like I've never taken the time to understand it. I understand Instagram pretty well and Facebook sort of, but I don't really understand. Pinterest. And so I found somebody that does understand Pinterest and so she does consulting for me.

Oh, that's great. And really reasonably priced and she's been very effective at it. And I've been now doing it, I think for about a year maybe. And I think I'm up to, I don't really know cause I don't look at it that much. I think I'm over a thousand followers maybe, but, or pins or whatever.

[00:45:42] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yeah. It's Dunno the lingo.

Yeah. The followers aren't as important as the views. And then your click backs. And I'll tell you what I do know about Pinterest is it's a search engine instead of like this instant Instagram, like 24 hours. You're lucky if somebody's seeing it after that and then it's done. The work you did really doesn't keep gen generating more. Connections. Whereas I've had pins that are like four or five years old and people will still find them and find me because of 'em.

[00:46:14] Bibby Gignilliat: Oh, that's fabulous.

[00:46:15] Kellee Wynne Conrad: So it's the keyword you're using with each pin that people can switch and then find your work. So it does have a really nice long life time. It takes a little bit longer for something to be seen and start working.

Its way up versus the opposite with Instagram as it's seen and then it's done. Pinterest is growing and I have noticed a huge leap. I think a lot of people are going back to Pinterest. So as far as social media goes, I think that's a really big deal. I think that's something that's coming up that's, we're just gonna, it doesn't have the social aspect, but it does have the networking that we need to get people back to our site, get them on our programs, our email list, even purchasing our stuff because yeah, I mean, that's a good, good way to kinda look at what Pinterest can do.

I think YouTube's growing again for the first time. It's starting to take over, uh, traction. That was once Facebook and Instagram. I don't do TikTok. I don't know about you, but I'm, you do it or do you? I don't. I tried it for a while and then I'm like, you know what, this is not, it doesn't feel good.

Some people love it and I'm not saying it's wrong, but for me it just didn't work. So we do have to find what works for us right now. What about old fashioned way of just like mailing postcards?

[00:47:29] Bibby Gignilliat: That's a great point. I forgot to mention that I have a mailing list of like 500 people and anytime someone buys a painting from me, I get their address, even if they're outta state.

And I, mail to them every open studios and, if someone's moved, I get the name updated that way. And I have a few galleries in the area on that list. And I also have a list of a hundred interior designers. So I mail to them for every open studios. It's one of those insight to. Pictures. Yes. And get to see the art in a setting. I also do something, different than a lot of artists, which is I take those situ you shots. I could actually go get one and show you real quick and I put it in a little booklet. Let me go get it. .

It's a little booklet like this. Oh, how nice. And you know they can, it's

[00:48:21] Kellee Wynne Conrad: for those, I'll have it listening. It's a half size catalog and there's pictures of artwork placed in rooms so that the, Customer can see how it would look in a space that's beautiful.

[00:48:36] Bibby Gignilliat: And the back has all my contact info. And so what happens is if someone comes in, cause one of the key things about open studios that people have to realize is the sales cycle is really long or can be really long, right?

You'll get the occasional person that will come in and they'll be like, I want that painting. And that's like one in 20 sales or maybe one in 50 sales where they just come in and they're like, I'll take that painting. That happened to me a couple of times. But usually someone wants to measure and go home and see if it's gonna work.

And what I often do is I'll offer for them to take a picture of their in-home setting and they send it to me and then I'll have my designer Photoshop the painting into their home. So that's one thing I do to really help me close the sale. The other thing I'll do is I just started doing this, I love lug.

I don't know if you guys have lug out there, L U G G, but it's the uber of delivery and these guys really nice t-shirts and they'll take the painting to the house and they'll drop it off and I pay for it to be delivered to the house. And if they decide they don't want it, they decide, it's out on approval and they decide, no, it's not working.

They pay for it to come back to me. That's how I worked it out. So once it gets in the home, it in general, it is more likely to sell and that's right. That's even better than the Photoshop idea. Photoshopping it in. Because sometimes the trouble with Photoshopping it in is they'll take a terrible photo that's kind of dark and my photos are so light because they've been done with a professional photographer, so my photo will be like neon on compare in comparison to their dark setting. But that is a way to, to make a sale. But more often than not, people aren't ready to, to buy or aren't ready to even take it out on approval. They might be in the middle of a remodel or they might be, they might not have even bought the house or whatever.

So I give them this brochure to take home and then they're able to look at it at their convenience or if just someone seems real interested, but maybe they don't have a need right then and there, or maybe they know somebody or interior designer or gallery, whatever. So I give this to them and I print up about 50 of them for every open studios and I usually give out almost all copies.

[00:50:55] Kellee Wynne Conrad: That's something that they can. Come across in another month and go, oh yeah, I really wanna buy from this artist. And yeah, that's a, it's a good like, physical in your hands, like what's old is new again. Like, I dunno, maybe we need to take out magazine ads. I don't know.

[00:51:12] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah, and they're not gonna throw this out cause it's a nice, thick brochure.

So I doubt that they would throw this out. And I do a new one every open studio so that it has all my new work in it. And I still have some of the old ones, if I have a few of them left, like, this is an old one. This is the new one. And so, like, some people might be interested in some pieces that are still in this one, so I'll give them this brochure.

There's one other thing I wanted to say about that. What was it? Oh, yesterday the interior designer that came, had the brochure in her hand and she's like, I want these paintings. So she took six of them home. And so it was a. Real test, that it works. And then one other thing I thought of too was years ago, it was a Friday, I was in my studio and someone had come a year and a half earlier to open studios and they wanted a painting that had sold and the second something sells, I'll put a red dot on it because once it's, something's got a red Don it, I don't know what the psychology is, but everyone wants it then.

So of course this couple wanted the one that had the red dot on it. So they remembered me and their remodel was done. They called on a Friday and they came and they bought seven paintings for their new house. And that was, talk about a Tale that was a year and a half later. So I always tell people at the end of Open Studios it, it's hard because if you didn't sell a lot, it can be really devastating, especially if you put a lot of work into it.

But I always say, you just don't know. Let let the tail run its course.

[00:52:41] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Absolutely. Because it's about building long-term customers rather than somebody. Totally. So, and it's a lot of that is, I noticed what comes up a lot as we're talking is just how you wrap your head around money, asking for the sale, making sure that you're asking for the customer's email, connecting with them.

But there is a big money mindset to get over, the way we price our work, the way we ask for a sale, the way that we, continue to promote ourselves. Because I've had artists even say that. They're like, well, I feel a little shy to be like, oh, look at me. I'm sharing my art with you. But it's what we're passionate about.

It's what we're called to do. And no doctor's gonna sit there and be like, well, I don't really wanna push my services on other people, but come on, when you, when you have a profession, you have to get paid for your profession. So how do you get over those mindset hurdles around. Being comfortable with making money?

[00:53:40] Bibby Gignilliat: Well, I'll tell you a couple things. A couple years ago I was really struggling at open studios cuz it's like, you wanna make conversation, but it's sort of awkward to jump right into the art. So there was someone helping a friend in the building, and she has a background in retail and she gave me the biggest tip that was, so has I still use it today?

Just try to make a conversation, maybe even not about the art to get the ball rolling. So I, I have a number of different questions I'll ask. I'll say, how'd you hear about the event today? Or Have you been to the building before? And that always prompts conversation starting and or if they're wearing a really nice outfit.

I might comment to the outfit if it's true, if they have a dog, I get dog biscuits and so I feed the dog dog biscuits and I think I should get something for kids too, cuz a lot of people bring their kids to the studio. Yeah. And if you can connect with the kids, I usually connect with the kids at the artist at work events cuz I'll have them do some of my technique.

I'll have 'em put down a piece of collage and the parents will be there taking pictures and whatever. So you developed this rapport, like I remember. At an open studios in December, I, I did have some food for kids. I had some cookies that someone had given me at the Open Studio event, and so I offered 'em to the kids and one thing led to another, and suddenly they bought four pieces and each family member picked out a piece.

So I'll have these kinds of things to help break the ice before I get to some of the artwork questions. And one of the best questions to ask to connect with people when they're kind of getting more serious about potentially a painting, I say, how does it make you feel? Mm. Because too often people focus on, oh, I've got a blue couch.

I need a painting that matches. But really it's how does it make you feel? And I'm hoping that my art evokes, uh, a feeling of joy and, inspiration and energy when people see it. Right. Yeah. Curiosity and that kind of thing.

[00:55:46] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yeah. I look at your work and it makes me feel alive.

That's how I see it. Yeah. I just feel there's just so much aliveness in your work, and so I can see how breaking the ice is an important part to get the conversation rolling, but where do you get over, like, the mind, we get these so much in our heads, like probably half the battle for being a success.

More than half the battle for being a successful artist is our mindset and how we think about all of this, because we can learn this skills and I've known people who are like, well, I'm doing all these things, right, that I've been taught, creating the collection and putting it up online, but why am I still not selling?

I'm talking about the proficient artist, the artist that knows their work, not the beginner artists. Because when we're still learning, it's really hard to get. Our work to that level that it can just sell like that. But when we're at that point of proficient and we're still struggling with selling, I can only imagine that a lot of that has to do with how we even believe in ourselves and what we're emitting, how we're even talking about our work, how we're even showing up for our work, you know, proud and enthusiastic or shy and unsure.

And what does that say, to the customer?

[00:56:59] Bibby Gignilliat: Yeah. I think that in all honesty, that art is a spiritual practice and, it's a way to explore your relationship with yourself. And, I've had to work through a lot of those things and I'm still working through them. It's self-esteem, self-worth, self-love, all of those things.

And it's a practice and I have a very deep spiritual practice that as I grow as a person, it's reflected in my art. Mm-hmm. So, I believe they're so intertwined and the more you can work on yourself, the, the more it'll be reflected in your art, sales and your abundant outlook.

[00:57:45] Kellee Wynne Conrad: I think that you really tapped into something that is important and something I believe in too, because I've gone through that phase.

As a business owner, who am I to do this? Who am I to teach this? Who am I to coach? Who am I to show up and tell other people, they can run a business, is this even what I'm supposed to do? But you're right in the sense that when you start honing in on your spiritual practice, whatever it might be, for me, it's not connected to any religion, but.

When you start realizing that that creativity is coming through you, it's meant to be, then you get to a point where you're like, I'm denying other people the joy of whatever the divine is in this world, if I'm not putting it out there. Right. I'm gonna bring that light

and so once that clicks that, it's not so much about me Exactly.

But its about collective energy and love and spirit of us all. It shifts how you feel about everything.

[00:58:46] Bibby Gignilliat: Totally. I'll say two things about that. When I was thinking about selling my business, I needed to know what I was going to, and so I did this year and a half program at the Academy of Intuition Medicine, and it was ba basically a spiritual program.

As I cleared the clutter and the layers of programming of society and family and. Even friends, you know? Mm-hmm. That have programmed, but whatever. As I cleared that programming, my art just went like that. And Michael Singer talks about it in his book. Well, actually there's a podcast that's free that's called, I think it's about Surrender.

It's got Surrender in the title. He's got a paid program, but he's got a free podcast you can listen to. Michael Singer and he wrote The Untethered Soul. And it's kind of a hard book to read, so I recommend not reading the book and maybe just listening to his podcast.

And he's a little irritating, I will say. Cuz he can sound kind of condescending but the essence of what he's saying is that we are like a river. Okay. And when there's rocks in the river, it blocks the flow. So if you can release the rocks in the river and those kind of negative self-talk, is all rocks in the river, then the flow can just come through you and everything just flows.

Yeah. And so in my spiritual practice worked on clearing those rocks in the river and I'm still working on it. It's a lifelong process. My art has just gotten better. I've become more abundant. And then I try to bring that into my studio. I do space clearing in my studio. If I could get a little woowoo and try to bring in the energy I want people to feel when they come in here.

And I do the same in my classes, so that people will walk in the door often and I'll be like, oh my God, it feels so good in here. You know? And so, Because it's that kind of clear energy. I want people to feel

[01:00:41] Kellee Wynne Conrad: We can't deny that there is some sort of connection between us as humans. And so when we're in that right space and then letting go of some of those imposter syndromes and fears and.

Other big, huge blocks or rocks as you said. Mm-hmm. That keep us from being able to just show up as 100% authentically us and I, I know that it's a always a lifetime work in progress. I have no doubt this isn't something we can just snap our fingers and be ready for. You know, that big, huge might shift.

Yeah. But once you get into that flow, I can see it's working for you because you're selling paintings by the half dozen. So yeah. Obviously something connects there and I really do believe there's a connection to how we show up, how we feel. What our energy is to the success that we have. So I'm really glad this came full circle back to that.

You're almost a decade in work on this from the first time that you said, I wanna go back to being an artist. What, what I was truly called to do from childhood on, but you're almost a decade in this and look at how successful you are and that you, you know, you are not the starving artist that mm-hmm.

So many of us struggle through. And you've done it through selling your artwork, which is really amazing. Yes. You supplement with some art workshops, but it is just really impressive. And Well, one of the reasons I wanted you on, because I do talk oftentimes to other types of business, business owners who really wanted people to hear that it's possible to be successful just by painting with passion the way you do.

[01:02:18] Bibby Gignilliat: I just wanna make one last comment that, Julia Cameron says in her book, the Artist's Way, if you really wanna know what you should do in life, look at what you loved as a child. And I loved painting, obviously, but I also kind of loved entrepreneurism. I was having Kool-Aid stands and golf ball stands and shovel shoveling businesses and candle businesses, all these things.

[01:02:40] Kellee Wynne Conrad: You and I both, I loved entrepreneurship. Yeah. I would be making chocolates and selling it to my friends at school. Yeah.

[01:02:48] Bibby Gignilliat: Love it. Yeah. So she's really right on in that. And I say that in my classes a lot, and people have this real connection and they're like, oh my God, I loved this. And then my mother told me my sister could only be the artistic one or whatever.

So, you know, anyway, I'm hoping that you're, yeah.

[01:03:07] Kellee Wynne Conrad: Yeah. Wonderful. Thank you so much, so much for being on the podcast. It was really fun to get to know you, and I have no doubt that everyone will feel extraordinarily inspired after this.

[01:03:20] Bibby Gignilliat: Oh, thank you so much.

I'm really grateful to be here. Thank you. Okay, bye.


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