Friday, March 11, 2011

A Little Marketing Reality Check

I recently happened upon another artist’s blog (a very successful artist who has shown in galleries and museums all over the world) and one of her posts got me thinking. Actually, it was more the reaction of one of her readers and then her reaction to them that puzzled me. Of course, I’d never heard of her, but that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t get out much.

The post itself was about being approached by another artist at one of her exhibits and the resulting dialogue concerning her marketing. I was intrigued. I can always use a pointer or two when it comes to promotion and marketing. Boiling the extensive post down to its main theme, she became frustrated with the other artist and his unwillingness to do the real work necessary to push his public exposure to the next level. When their banter turned to web presence and blogging, she chided “You should blog everyday or at least every other day!”

I though to myself Wow… she really does work hard. How does she find the time to be such a prolific blogger and still create her art?

She surmised he was looking for the easy answer to his marketing puzzle and the only easy answer to give is that marketing is tough. It’s long complex journey with very few shortcuts.

I couldn’t agree more.

She became very offended that her quizzical colleague somehow had developed the notion that her success was based on some marketing formula and had nothing to do with the fact that she creates great art (similar to how my blood boils when someone suggests my art is “talent” driven and has nothing to do with hard work!).

How rude!

She ended the conversation by telling the man to “Fuck off!” (which I may think at times, but would never say) The fact she actually said that to someone in public at an exhibit made me a little squeamish, but then I thought the guy probably got what he deserved. Besides, the photos she had of herself posted all over her blog (none of her art… hmmm) were quite attractive and a little tough looking, so she probably gets away with saying things some others (men) don’t. And judging by the attitude of her blog, she probably says stuff like this a lot! Still, I found myself in her corner silently cheering her on.

Sexist, right? I’m sure she would accuse me of the same thing, but it gets worse (or better, depending on your point of view).

As I skimmed the comments following her post, most were supportive in a “been there, done that” sort of way, but down the page a bit I found a comment by another (obviously sexist) fellow questioning her self-proclaimed “great art” and stating that her success was based more on her attractive physical appearance and the calculated controversial nature of both her art and personality than the actual quality of her work!

REALLY?! Did he just say that?

I instantly bristled at this statement, but backed off a bit as I thought about it. I found it odd that she had several photos of herself on her blog, but none of her art. That was true enough. I began to wonder why? She certainly was trying very hard to be edgy and controversial.

Maybe a little too hard?

Her response to this critical comment was more juvenile than I expected as she really ripped the guy a new one calling him petty and jealous.

The standard response I’ve heard many times when pointing out obvious flaws others are too timid/kind/PC/stupid to address. Why was she so defensive? Had someone really pointed out the emperor wore no clothes?

Slowly I began relating a bit more with the targets of her pointed words. Now I REALLY NEEDED TO SEE HER WORK!

I clicked the link to her website and what I found was astonishing. The “work” was a collection of mass produced poorly executed pornographic line drawings (“chicken scratching” would be more descriptive). Edgy and controversial indeed! Her art seemed every bit as juvenile as her response to critics, but it was just the kind of trash the galleries in NYC and LA pee all over themselves for.

I instantly understood why she had so much time to write in her blog everyday. If she had more than a couple of minutes tied up in these monstrous hunks of crap, I’d be shocked.

I guess what upset me most was her absolute denial that her physical appearance and carefully cultivated public image had anything to do with her success… since her art is such an unattractive and cliché joke! So does she really believe her own line of BS? Or has she manipulated the art buying public into a frenzy of uninformed garbage collecting… laughing herself to sleep at night? And all the way to the bank!

I guess the moral to the story is this: If you have a specific attribute that sets you (or your work) apart from the crowd, embrace it. Use it to your full advantage and don’t ever feel like you need to apologize for it… unless of course your work is a fraud/con to begin with. In that case… never vary from your lie!

Oh… and don’t ask me for the name of the above mentioned artist. She’s already received too much undeserved attention J


Terry Miller said...

Great post, Jim. OK, I'll ask!! :)

Gail Dolphin said...

Loved your post! How often sad but true!

Jo Ann Reinhardt said...

I really loved your thoughts about marketing, Jim. I don't get to your blog everyday, but when I do I find something truly interesting and helpful to me in thinking about what I do with my art. No point in blogging everyday, in my humble opinion!! Ha!

Jim Bortz said...

Thank you all! I'm glad someone out there is reading :)