The Awkward Art of Artist Advertising
We now inhabit a world chock-a-block, brimful and overflowing with Advertising. Such has been the pace of change that I doubt many of us ever expect to escape unmolested by them for too long these days. The vast majority of advertising is ubiquitous, global, worldwide, international, immensely powerful and solidly corporate. Here at martincooney.com however I long ago made the decision to exclude all outside advertising, not particularly due to the fact that I find many of the products repugnant, but simply because I am thoroughly sick of advertising.
Over the course of recent decades we have become inured to all of our favorite events from the sporting world being ‘brought to us’ by a familiar slew of multinational conglomerates. Everything it seems, from the entertainment industry, the county fair, the X-Games, the Superbowl, the Olympics, the World Cup, Wimbledon….all come courtesy of loud, boastful, repetitive, gross over-commercialization. Grainy old Olympic footage can quite bring a tear to my eye.
When not aligning itself with the athletic prowess of various sportsmen and women via global sporting events Coca-Cola, McDonalds and the rest are doing, what? Telling anyone who will listen that their product is the best and that you really should buy it today.
No artsy-fartsy, self-imposed modesty serves to restrict their often ludicrous claims: delicious, ‘nutritious’, and “good for you!” Car manufacturers perhaps top the absurdity stakes. From driving habits and body language of the occupants of the cars around me when I drive most people appear bored at best, growing increasingly enraged the longer they while away the hours spent stuck inside their own air-conditioned greenhouse.
Another example; wristwatch manufacturers these days would seem to be under the illusion that every third person owns a private jet. And the fact that a single ordinary looking handbag is able to sell for several thousand dollars just about rests my case: advertising works.
At first glance it may appear that we 21st Century independent artists reside in the same boat as our counterparts in the non-art/outright commercial sector, namely 99 % of society. But the rules of propriety, modesty and salesmanship could not be more unevenly applied. ‘Artistic suicide’ is the common consensus as to the fate of anyone who strays into a tawdry commercial pitch plugging their own work, a pitch that would be perfectly acceptable, understandable, expected even… if the product in question was not a piece of art.
Pick up a newspaper and you’ll see adds galore. Switch on the TV, the radio, the internet. Walk down the street and ads will come jumping out at you from every direction. Buses blazoned with them will skirt dangerously close to your toes at street corners. Taxis, vans, even cars will vie to get your eyeballs to linger on their often bizarre images.
From the moment you wake – unless you are camping, mountain climbing, snorkeling or hunting wildlife with gun or camera, your senses will be bombarded with advertising. And just what have all these ads in common (aside from a blatant lack of modesty)? That their product is the best! Best value, best quality, best flavor, best decision for your personal financial future. ‘Go on, buy it – you know you want too’.
Now contrast this practically unlimited arsenal of dubious claims with the typical understated, self-sacrificingly noble; “please buy this”, starving artist approach foisted by artistic protocol upon, well, starving artists. No bold claims from us. We’re just supposed to shyly put up our work, compose a word or two regarding the inspiration behind it, and basically shut up.
Speaking personally I really think my art is great, as in it will withstand the test of time and make a lasting name for itself as the pioneering revolutionary marble sculpture that it is.
There, I’ve said it… I’ve crossed the invisible line of good taste – just who do I think I am?
I think I am a skillful, talented artist who creates original, intriguing, lasting and important artwork.
Of course I believe this, otherwise why would I have chosen to risk all in order to create/produce art for a living?
Few if any people who see my work for the first time are able to resist further exploration. What they make of it of course is up to them, but as an artist I can only present my work, just as a car showroom may only present their latest model cars.
Where our fortunes differ is in regard to what they are prepared to tell prospective customers. I think we all know the Glengarry Glenross pressured sales scenario that is about to unfold should we even brush a gleaming door handle with the back of a hand. Highly trained, ruthless and experienced, these cunning salesmen know exactly the pathetic signs of repressed interest and are not afraid to pounce.
As with practically every product out there some salesperson will attempt every trick in the book to get you to part with your hard earned money. Sales are sales are sales.
As opposed to the car showroom model however a sale is not the be-all and end-all of the transaction when it comes to art. Unlike the purchase of a vehicle the selection of sculpture is a complex, emotional, long-term affair. A bond must form between customer and carving before any talk of purchase, and for this reason alone I could never imagine leaning upon a potential customer with the dogged ruthlessness exhibited by even the most timid salesman. Odd as it sounds the sculpture must speak to the buyer in order for a sale to be made.
In my heart of hearts I know that my work will accrue in value over the years. Each marble sculpture is engraved with its own Serial Number and will never, can never, be duplicated. Furthermore the nature of it’s 30 million year-old history, and the fact that many pieces routinely spend the entire year outdoors at 7,300 feet in the Rocky Mountains, speaks to the fact that it would seem to have a robust future, perhaps stretching several tens of thousands of years.
Having no immediate plans to enroll in the School of Hard Sells anytime soon visitors to the sculpture garden here in Woody Creek are encouraged to wander and roam at will. Eventually a connection with a particular piece will or will not be made. My only involvement is to supply answers and cordially chit-a-chat.
Of course, even at my straight-to-the-public prices I do realize that not everyone has the readies to splash on a piece of fine art sculpture. The good news being that very shortly a PayPal six month interest-free payment plan will put every piece of sculpture for sale here on martincooney.com well within the reach of those who, due to excessive cost, weight and shipping, have never previously considered the purchase of marble sculpture.
Oh, and by the way the adds for products you do see here on martincooney.com – I do have to eat, and so too does my family – are provided by 32D’Arts! Gift Shop utilizing a commercial application of martincooney.com imagery. I’ve even been advised that, far from commercial suicide I really am supposed to tell you that everything, every single item, is simply tip-top quality, value for money, stylish and very, “very good for you”…. which it is!
So long for now – hope all this blatant bit of artist advertising didn’t prove too…. “awkward”.
Thanks for popping by. Till next time!
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