Interview with Artist Angela Treat Lyon
Artist Angela Treat Lyon offers advice on building an art career and selling your art in this interview.
Angela Treat Lyon Bio
Professional artist Angela Treat Lyon has been a creator all her life. Starting out after art school as an art director in San Francisco, she left soon after, disgusted by the behind-the-scenes nastiness.
Relieved to abandon the corporate world, she became an award-winning fine-art studio potter. 20 years later, when a friend introduced her to stone carving, she fell in love with stone and has been a rabid stone sculptor ever since. She is also a Success Coach for Creatives, a best-selling author; and host/producer of Daring Dreamers Radio.
Her images tend to be simple, strong and powerful. While most of Angela’s artwork goes home with individuals, many health centers and hospitals acquire her work, saying it is a “nurturing, inspirational influence.”
Angela’s work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions across the world, as well as in private collections, business offices, cancer survivor retreats and healing centers.
Please tell us what you do.
I am one of those people they call a polymath. I just can’t keep my fingers out of more than one pie. People keep telling me to sink into one and only one. Hah! Tell Richard Branson that! I can’t do that, either – I get bored. Why stick to one dish when there is a feast to be had? I tell people who say that to me that they should be the ones to reach out and try something new, instead of trying to box me in!
- a professional artist, specializing in stone carving, painting and drawing/illustration; I also design, produce and publish books for authors. I say ‘professional artist’ because I make my living at it – I’m not a hobby artist. There’s a big distinction.
- the author of the best-selling book, Change Your Mind with EFT, and over 50 other books, mostly my own, but a few feature the art of other artists whose work I wanted to show the world.
- I host and produce Daring Dreamers Radio, a podcast show to inspire and support entrepreneurs and people who dare to dream.
- a voracious reader – I read about a book a night. Sometimes two.
- a Business Success Coach. I help creative people to gain confidence, speak about themselves and their work easily, so they can sell their work and create financial success.
You can find my artwork here: AngelaTreatLyonART.com
Selected books here: AngelaTreatLyonBOOKS.com
Coloring books: ColoringBookQueen.com
My slightly-skewed fairy tales: TwistedOldTales.com
And my Mindset site here: EFTBooks.com and EFTinEveryHome.com
You might also enjoy my radio show at IDareYouRadio.com
Please tell us about your art.
Yes, I’m a sculptor. That is my main Heart for Art, if you will. It’s where my true love lies. Due to circumstances, though, I’ve haven’t been able to carve for some time, so I have to push past what I think I ‘ought’ to be doing and get my creative yayas off somewhere else.
So at this moment, I’m creating a series of drawings.You might think, “well, of course! She’s an artist! She draws!” But I don’t draw. I’m not one of those artists who has a skajillion sketch books from day one – I virtually never draw.
A couple months ago I had to sit and wait for a friend as she got treatment at a rehab center. I had my ipad along, and as I sat and waited, I got my sketch app out, and used it for the first time. Things just got their own momentum going – I drew a series of strange critters and weird people that just made me laugh out loud.
After colorizing them, I thought, I can’t just keep these funny things to myself! I bet others would like them, too. So I put them together and published them in my latest book, Silly Critters, which is now up on Amazon.
I also put a bunch of them into an album on my facebook profile page, where anyone can go enjoy them. I laugh every time I see them – they just give me a kick! Isn’t that what art is for? Evoking joy? Love? Empathy? Understanding? Inspiration? Of course it is!
The other series I’ve been doing is a bunch of watercolors of my local area, Kailua Beach, one of the most popular beaches here in Hawaii. I was surprised at how immediately people responded to the paintings – I’ve sold more of them in the last month than any other kind of work I’ve done in the last 15 years! Can you spell I’m-s-t-o-k-e-d? I love having that kind of response to my creations!
You do a lot of different types of art, does that
diversity help your creativity and career?
As I mentioned, I get bored easily. At the end of a series, that’s It. I will in most likelihood never do that thing again. Not because I don’t like it, but because I’ve taken it as far as I can stretch it. I was a potter for close to 20 years. People still can’t figure out how I did what I did. I played with and tweaked my glazes and under-stains and the way I fired the pots in ways that no one else has done yet.
I try to stretch a medium or style or skill with everything I do.
I’ve thought of going back to making pots again, because I really did love it, but each time, my Inner Knowingness says, “Uh-uh, nope. No way!” Once I reached that End Point, that was It for pots. When I get there, there’s an internal switch that pops, and I’m done! And I hear my mind asking, “ No more of that, what’s next?”
And yes, I have found that everything we do – no matter what it is – informs every part of what else we do in the rest of our lives. What I learn from carving informs my painting, which informs my writing, which informs my speaking and coaching, and so on.
It’s a beautiful thing, and makes my life feel so utterly rich. Even during the times I’ve been dead broke, I still feel as if I’m this incredible deep well of inspiration and information that I can share. You don’t need money to be able to open your mouth and share your talent, skills or knowledge!
Do you have any advice for selling in galleries?
If you are looking to show in galleries, and you are as diverse in your application of media and skills as I am, you need to find a gallery that is OK with you doing landscapes one day and abstract the next. I can pretty much guarantee you that those are few and far between. Most galleries want you to have a line of work that never changes.
I never paint the same theme or type of scenes over and over again in the same medium. And – I’ve never found a gallery who wanted to deal with my wide range of subjects and media switches. So I just use social media, my mailing lists and word of mouth to market my work. It’s hard, but it works, and sometimes I think better than if I were in a gallery.
What can you say to artists you have a hard time
selling their art?
The most common things I hear from almost every artist and other creatives I meet are, “I hate selling my work! I feel like a sleaze,” or, “I don’t want to push myself on anyone.”
We forget that the origin of the word ‘to sell’ means ‘to serve.’ When we go out to sell our work, we are serving our community. A market is simply a place for people to find the stuff they need and want.
If you can think of your work in terms of serving, suddenly you are no longer a sleaze, nor are you pushing yourself on anyone. Does a baker push himself on you by advertising? Does a restaurant act sleazily because it announces its presence in your local mall? No! They know you want what they’ve got, so they’re putting the word out to let you know they’re there.
It’s the same thing with art – or speaking, or writing, or any of the ‘soft’ services. You are serving your market. You provide inspiration, joy, a new perspective, color where there is none, heart where there is little, and so on.
Think about what you do, and ask yourself, “how am I serving?” And the next time you meet some one new, it will be easier to talk about your work because you won’t be talking about YOU
Tell us about EFT and how it helped you as an artist.
For decades, I was convinced there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t stick to one thing like almost everyone else did. I thought that I was stupid, that I was incapable of making a living because I was such a flake.
I didn’t know a person could be a ‘polymath.’ A polymath (from the Greek: polymaths, “having learned much”) is a person whose knowledge, skills and expertise spans a significant number of different areas.
I spent 35 years thinking I was just a fluke, dumb, an outcast who would never make it. I criticized myself for the number of books I read (almost one a day, sometimes two) and the number of subjects I was curious about. I thought of ending my life every single day, because the pain of living seemed to be bigger than the joy.
Somehow I managed to stick around. I’m convinced it was being an artist that actually saved me – I’d get distracted into my curiosity and the self-pity would roll away like mist for a while.
Then in 2001 I found EFT, and used the techniques to completely obliterate every part of the treacherous, dreary, monotonous thoughts that repeated in my head like a disgusting litany: “I hate my life I feel so pathetic what’s wrong with me why can’t I be like other people I want to end it how shall I do it what about driving off that cliff no that would hurt my dog how about pills …”
In only six short weeks of using EFT, I found that I was happy. Really, really happy! And for the first time in 35 years, there was no internal voice warning me that misery was right around the corner and I better watch out.
I was so excited that I became an EFT maniac. I told everyone about it, even accosting people at the store or on the street. I started taking clients (and learned how to not be so obnoxious in my enthusiasm!), and eventually ended up working with creatives, my favorite people on the planet.
What is a “Business Success Coach”? Please tell us
about your coaching work.
Destructive thinking, limiting beliefs and bad habits stop every single one of us and get in the way of where we want to go and what we want to do. That’s true no matter who you are, but I found it to be especially true with creative people.
Once those thoughts, beliefs and habits are shifted, the magic starts, and doesn’t stop. That magic is one of the most – maybe THE most – important things in life.
I consider it a great honor to be able to help artists, writers, speakers, and other creatives, get back to their Inner Magic. Then they can spread the joy and inspiration they are here to share. I help them learn how to market and sell their work in ways that are right for them, and even enjoy doing so – what a thought! I help them get their finances working for them, instead of being worked over by the lack of money
In a recent interview you talked about Cory Huff’s
The Abundant Artist Facebook group, can you tell
us what you like about the group?
Cory’s group is part of his online artist training. It’s by far the best artist marketing training of the many I’ve experienced. I like his best because it’s one-two-three, do this, do this, do this, and >that< will happen.
There’s a bunch of philosophical stuff in it, to be sure, as in all trainings, but the step-by-step approach really worked for me – is STILL working for me, four years after I did the course, because I periodically review it and try to catch up in the places where I still need work.
It can be really overwhelming to go from being clueless about marketing to all of a sudden creating an over-view, finding your ‘why,’ finding what your personal story is, building your website, writing your about-you page, setting up a mailing list … and so on.
However, if you stick with it, by the end of the course you have a solid presence online and are able to take money in sales and start making a living from doing what you adore. What a thought!
When I did the course, I had a lot of what he asked us to do in place, but there were critical places I needed to fill in. When I did that, I started making more money. I’ve dealt with some serious health issues along the way so it hasn’t been a steady ride for me, but if an artist decides to really go for it, that’s the course to take.
One of the things I like so much is that those of us who were in that course 4 years ago are still in that Facebook group. I love it – I visit it several times every day, getting and giving advice and support. I consider it to be one of the best aspects of Cory’s course.
Every other artist marketing course out there that I know of discontinues their FB group after the course finishes – I think that’s a huge disservice to the people in the course. Cory got smart and kept his going. It has become a rich community of really good artists who are so generous and knowledgable it’s almost staggering.
Can you give some advice for artists hoping to make
a career of their passions?
The one thing I can tell you that you absolutely must have for your career is love for it. That sounds pretty corny and overly simplistic, I suppose. But going to work every day doing something you’re bored with or that you hate – heck, why not just go get a grinding 9-5 job and be done with it? It’s been my observation over the past 55 years of being a professional artist that in order to keep going, you have to absolutely love it that you are an artist.
You might be as depressed as I was, or hate it that you have to sell your work, or your family might hate it that you’re weird because you chose not to be a doctor or whatever, I get that.
You have to have a singular enormous part of you that knows you can’t help being an artist, that you couldn’t be another thing if you tried (and probably have).
You have to firmly acknowledge that you love creating and being curious and discovering new ways to do this and that, that you adore digging into the paint or the clay or the tools or the carving, or even the speaking to groups about art. I’d never have made it past my suicidal thoughts without knowing all that deep in my heart of hearts.
If you don’t have a love that big, a love that takes you over and sweeps you away and brings you new ideas and fantastic visions and new people to play with? Give it up. Right now. Find the place within you where that love resides and go there, instead.
If you DO have that love?
Then do what it takes to get your work seen and enjoyed by the many, because that’s why you’re here on the planet.
Don’t deprive us of your work for one more second. Stop squirreling it away.
Stop hiding yourself away because you believe your work isn’t good enough – or whatever feeble excuse your brain has made up to fool yourself into illusory emotional or mental safety. Please – come on out and gift us with the beauty you have within your soul.
Thank you for the opportunity to share the love!