Showing posts with label networking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label networking. Show all posts

Monday, October 27, 2014

extraneous work (viii): selling art, networking, social media, branding, marketing

by selling i do not only mean the actual sale of an artwork. i mean the work that is necessary to create appreciation for my art, in a broader sense. there are various ways to go about creating such appreciation in wide enough circles, and i would like to discuss some of these ways from my personal perspective.

one cannot expect to raise appreciation of one's art without taking some trouble to at least show it to one other person. in the most fortuituous case, this might start a snowballing effect, and the end of the year sees thousands of artistic pilgrims coming to your studio, begging for an artwork, any artwork, as long as it carries your signature... :-)

in reality, art appreciation usually works a little differently. i've had many individual art lovers be enthusiastic about my work, but i hardly sell enough. in order to make a living i should have much better access to people who are really looking for art to buy. and then, as with so much other endeavours in life, competition and all sorts of extraneous parameters come in. in the contemporary art world, the valuation and apppreciation is often most difficult, even for experts. there is a lot of hot air...extremely so even.

let's just take two quotes from germaine greer on damien hirst (she comments on robert hughes' criticism of damien hirst, in the guardian 2008)
What is touching about Hughes's despair is that he thinks that artists still make things. It's a long time since Hirst actually made an artwork with his own hands.
Hirst is quite frank about what he doesn't do. He doesn't paint his triumphantly vacuous spot paintings - the best spot paintings by Damien Hirst are those painted by Rachel Howard. His undeniable genius consists in getting people to buy them. Damien Hirst is a brand, because the art form of the 21st century is marketing. To develop so strong a brand on so conspicuously threadbare a rationale is hugely creative - revolutionary even.

damien hirst is the well-known extreme example of how contemporary art is more about marketing than about the art itself. but these mechanisms also impact on a small-time (at least economically speaking :-)) artist like myself. so, according to the experts, what should you do if you want to succeed as an artist - which is always interpreted in terms of selling your art, by the way-? the gist of it, as i perceive it, is as follows:
  • be recognizable: do something different, but don't change this: your own style
  • work on a branding strategy: brand yourself as an artist, brand your art (your own style)
  • work on your cv by participating in many events, show your art in many places, according to your branding strategy and pricing strategy, get your name noticed
  • network, and use your networks, look for endorsements from `art experts'
  • use all social media to draw attention to you and your work

some of this stuff is new (sometimes in its extreme form only), but other aspects already plagued artists in medieval times i think. strikingly, together with marketing dominating art, as a logical consequence of postmodern value confusion, (acclaimwise) successful contemporary art has officially lost connection with aesthetics. this actually leads to a shadow world: the world of `stuffy' traditional visual art values, in which `small-time' artists like myself operate.

another quote for you, from a very nice review of the book: seven days in the art world (review by adrien favell, book by sarah thornton).
It is perhaps this socially mobile dynamic in the book, that accounts for the fact that Thornton mostly dwells on success and fame in the art world, not its obverse—despite, in fact, the truth that this world is driven not by the stars who made it, but the also rans, in vast numbers, who get smashed trying. Only once do we get a glimpse of this other side of art: in a light and sensitive portrait of a day amongst slacker students at a California art school. The lockjaw of theory and conceptualism on contemporary art is graphically illustrated in the scorn these struggling and mostly hopeless young artists pour on notions that art has anything to do with “beauty” or “affect”. Everyone in the art world today talks this talk today, but it has to be noted how much a role these desperately old fashioned notions still play in motivating the big auction sales—something well observed by Don Thompson. But apart from the students, Thornton has much less to say about the lives and work of the legions of those who are always hopefully (or euphemistically) referred to “emerging” artists, trying to make the leap across the chasm from art school to Turner prize nomination. The book analyses the anxieties of the Turner prize nominees, but these are already “successful” artists; the everyday action in the art system is generally going on well below this, at a more intermediate level, in the mundane actions of dealers and artists to scratch out a career and living against its brute statistics of failure.

please read the review, you will notice that its author has far more stamina in writing about these things than i do. some people write really well, to the enjoyment of many. i hope that my writing, impatient as it may be, still contributes something too...since there are so few artists entering the fray of writing about art. i commented on this earlier, it is a bit comparable to having the discipline of complex surgery being dominated by non-surgeons.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

extraneous work (vi): presenting art, software, social media, networking, framing art

out of necessity i have several art websites, including this blog. already for my artist's homepage i had to learn a minimum of html. i'm quite unsatisfied with this website, but i find it prohibitive to invest even more time in learning how build a proper website.

spend money on having someone do it for me, i'm pondering on that. my artist budget is not spacious, and i always want to be in control of everything. i'm also not in control now, since my knowledge of html, css and dynamic scripting is abysmal. on this blog (like on my other blogs), i usually spend just the minimum amount of effort to learn how to control the most important issues (layout, fonts, picture representations, video embeddings - rare as they may be).

often i hear that an artist should use the internet-related social media, such as facebook. however, i truly dislike facebook, and seldom can muster the necessary energy to participate. i prefer blogging, since in this way i feel that i'm not pestering anybody with my long and often philosophical writings. anyone wishing to read can do so, but the blog feels agreeably low-key / modest to me in the sense that i do not advertise my postings, or draw attention to them other than by simply putting them up on the web.

the downside is that my blog doesn't generate much feedback / interaction. in order to sell art, many people recommend strategies based on networking, also web-based combined with social media. my own strategy is indeed old-fashioned and not so productive: i think customers should see the art in real life, and that the art should speak for itself.

for this i participate in some art-showing events each year. presenting my art in real life is however more work than presenting it on the web. for instance there is the framing to consider:

framing a painting, frank waaldijk
framing notre dame des anges with shells (click on the image for an enlargement)

i often experiment with the framing of paintings, because i want painting and frame to really work together. so more often than not i find myself constructing a frame, usually from wood or from aluminum. both materials require precise and time-consuming work. the designing of the frame, testing different options, both visually and constructively is often equally time-consuming.

therefore i undertake this only when i feel the paintings will really gain in strength, as compared to letting a professional picture-framer make a frame. i often use this latter option too, as costly as it can be, just to save time. but i still feel happy that i am able to create good picture-frames myself, it is not so easy.

framing drawings in addition involves cutting glass, and cutting passepartouts...the latter i can do well, but cutting glass is somehow not my strong point (it often breaks badly), so this i usually outsource, or avoid. i also like to use old picture frames, and repaint them with my `special' layered technique. in this way many drawings acquire some extra atmosphere. for this i regularly visit second-hand shops, to find suitable old frames. i have a fair collection of them, so i can pick one when a drawing is finished. i also use prefab standard size frames for drawings, mostly in wood but also aluminum sometimes.

my general guiding principle is that the frame should distract as little as possible from the artwork being framed. on te other hand, it should also be distinct enough colourwise and material-wise to be clearly separate from the artwork. i have seen countless artworks where the frame dominates the art...perhaps because without the dominant frame the art work is not special enough?

the question: if an artwork needs a frame to become art, then what have we? touches on a similar but more disturbing question:

if an artwork needs a museum to become art, then what are we doing?

many artworks in modern musea in my not so humble opinion would not be considered artworks if they were found outside of a museum. and in that case, i find myself prone to irritation that they take up space in a museum, and pretentiously so.