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A friend told me a story a few years ago about a very talented Architect he knew who worked out of a run down old studio, wearing 8 layers of clothing with just an electric bar heater to keep him warm. Apparently he would spend way more time on a project than he should, always tweaking things until he had blown the budget… He would never ask for more than the fee he had quoted, and would always find himself out of pocket. Guess where he is now…? Picking fruit.
[/x_text][/x_column][/x_row][x_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” bg_color=”” style=”margin: 0px auto 0px auto; padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; “][x_column bg_color=”” type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; “][x_gap size=”50px”][x_image type=”none” src=”http://www.paulsewter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/E31n.jpg” alt=”Angelo Testa Cupid with a Swan and Boys Picking Fruit, Summer, 1826″ link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][x_text]Artist at work
(Angelo Testa, Cupid with a Swan and Boys Picking Fruit, Summer, 1826 –Thorvaldsens Museum)[/x_text][x_gap size=”50px”][/x_column][/x_row][x_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” bg_color=”” style=”margin: 0px auto 0px auto; padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; “][x_column bg_color=”” type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; “][x_text]
Having seen a few of his buildings, I believe it would be fair to say he was an Artist-Architect. But whilst he excelled in one area of his practice, he was a failure at the business end of things… The time management. The money. The marketing.
And although it certainly would not be true to say that all Artists are bad at business, we are generally pretty awful at marketing. And the proof is in the pudding – if we weren’t, why else would there be a burgeoning market of self-help advice for Artists on the internet?
So why are Artists so bad at marketing? Well, it’s a big question with many possible answers, but in order to get the ball rolling I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest that there are only two possible reasons:
- most Artists do not have any training in marketing, and do not understand the importance of it to their careers.
- Artists are inherently anti-marketing.
The first point is fairly self-explanatory. The second is deliberately contentious. But bear with me because there might be something in it… In order to support this speculation, I’m going to take further liberties by distinguishing between Artists who are concerned mostly with making attractive things, and Artists who are conceptually driven…
The difference as I see it, relates to ‘pleasing’, and ‘consciousness’. Artists wanting to make beautiful, attractive things are in the business of pleasing – they make things designed to please, and appeal to the senses. On the other hand, Artist’s concerned with making conceptual works that challenge us cerebrally are likely to rely on a sceptical / cynical disposition to inform their work, and a cynical disposition involves being conscious – or as Julian Baggini puts it in this article for the Guardian newspaper, cynicism ‘is one of our best defences against spin and manipulation’.
[/x_text][x_blockquote cite=”Julian Baggini” type=”center”][cynicism] is one of our best defences against spin and manipulation.[/x_blockquote][x_text]
Now, instinctively the words ‘spin’ and ‘manipulation’ smell a lot to me like they belong to the vocabulary of ‘marketing’…
So, if it is possible to distinguish broadly between these two types of Artist, it might also be possible to make the case that Artists concerned with beauty are likely to have a very much easier time with marketing than conceptual Artists who are inherently wary of it. Which is good news for Artists making landscape paintings and decorative abstracts, who it would seem just need to take a crash course in marketing, but not such great news for conceptual Artists who are likely to struggle with their conscience.
For those who find themselves somewhere in the middle, as I do personally, perhaps our aim should be to find the appropriately fabled ‘middle way’ – to disassociate the words ‘spin’ and ‘manipulation’ from ‘marketing’, and look for opportunities to promote our work in a way that doesn’t offend our sensibilities. How do we do that? Well, that’s what the climb ‘from 0’ is all about isn’t it?
If you agree, disagree or would like to share your thoughts and ideas about why Artist’s are bad at marketing, please do so in the comments section below.
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