- by Barney Davey
Is good the new great in the art business? Artists need to take stock now to put their art careers in perspective, revamp their plans and ambition and act accordingly.
It seems not that long ago things in the art print market were booming. Housing was going through the roof, consumers were lavishly spending like drunk sailors, using the artificially inflated equity in their homes like ATMs with an endless balance.
When you get drunk, the price you pay is a hangover.
This economy we are in now is the massive hangover we are now suffering due to believing things were different and there was no end in sight to the good times ahead. The art print market was in a great position to take advantage of the upbeat and free spending economy. It was a good time while the party lasted.
It’s not all bad news for the art business
There have been recent positive signs on jobs and spending and housing. The numbers have turned positive but not with the same bounce we have seen in past recoveries.
Companies like Go Daddy, the a leading Web hosting provider and domain name registrar, now employs more than 3,000 people and is looking to hire at least 350 more in the weeks ahead. If people weren’t feeling good about their outlook, they wouldn’t be spending on the basic tools of starting a business, which include a domain name, email address and website — just the products Go Daddy provides.
Many of us are still suffering too much to take much solace in hearing positive numbers. We can still see empty houses in just about every neighborhood. We are reluctant to buy in too quickly on any prognostications about coming good times. So, for many consumers it is more a minor relief to realize the numbers we are seeing now are more of sign of the bleeding having stopped than they are the patient is recovered. It’s not a reason to jump for joy.
We spend less, so do art collectors
So now with a more sober eye, we tend to be more conservative with our purchases for our businesses and for ourselves. Although we have relaxed our personal tight money policy to a degree, we are far from going back to our free spending ways.
Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads, one of my advertising guru heroes, recently published in his weekly Monday Morning Memo a piece titled, How I Know the Recession Is Over. He bases his claim on reports from his elite advertising clientele, which chiefly consists of well-run small businesses. They have been reporting things turned up in the last quarter and are continuing to go that route.
Williams is convinced his feedback is an accurate predictor we have turned the corner and are heading for better days. I hope he’s right. I trust he’s right. While I won’t bet against his outlook, the recent past has taught me to be more cautious when it comes to making moves that require a heavy investment. I’m not against such ideas, I just believe they need to be well researched and solid on every front before moving on.
Is good the new great?
I recently read the quote, “Is good the new great?” It is attributed to Greg Bloch, owner of Triad Art Group. Bloch built his art print publishing company into a marketing power house to publish and promote the work of Spanish artist Royo, and now others.
What he was able to do with his marketing savvy in quickly building a multi-million dollar art print marketing business with a very small group of employees and a single terrific artist was fantastic. His success embodied the greatness of the times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As such, it is fitting he would come up with a phrase that adroitly captures the essence of our times.
Half the people you know are below average – comic Steven Wright
Sometimes it takes a comic like Steven Wright with his ironic philosophical twist on things to get us to pause long enough to question what is going on with our lives and careers. Wright’s simple funny, biting and all too true statement is a perfect example.
If you stop to think about it, the world is full of ordinary people who consider themselves average, which is good in this regard. While as rocker Tom Petty once mused, “It’s Good to Be King,” society would not function were we all kings and queens. However, for an artist to seek to be average, it’s a prescription for career disaster. Not if that artist desires to build a substantial body of work owned and appreciated by collectors on a large scale.
This is the wrong time to be an average artist
If you believe good is the new great, then you must also realize this is the wrong time to be average, or worse, below average. It is more important for us now more than ever to perform an honest self-assessment of our strengths and resources. It can sometimes be difficult to get a grip on where we stand when it comes to how good is the work. But, however you do it, if you get an accurate assessment of your situation, you can begin to work on an authentic plan to move your career.
Even the term good is arbitrary. Are we talking technical merit or commercial value or some intrinsic, yet intangible value. In terms of making a career in the print market, you have to have a grip on the commercial appeal of the work. If you have studied the market, you are fully aware some of the best known names are not the most gifted artists. This is true in other areas of the arts. No one would argue that Madonna is the best vocalist of her era. Yet, despite average vocal talent, she has remained a dominant force on the music scene in a decades long career.
It’s quite easy to think we are better than we are about almost anything subjectively judged.
To some extent, each of us practices self-deception. Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism that helps keep us from feeling or sensing too deeply harsh reality. It comes down not what, or not to where, but to who. Or, more personally put, it’s down to you.
If you think Greg Bloch’s quote, “Good is the new great” through, then you have to consider if good is the new great, then what the heck is the new good? For anyone trying to move forward and upward with an art career, anything less than good, as in great according this post, just won’t work.
Introspection, investigation and planning are in order
Figure out what makes you unique. It might not be your look, your style or your genre. It more likely is something intrinsic. When you find it, without question, it will be your ability to tap your ambition that drives your uniqueness to new heights. Madonna took average singing and dancing skills and combined them with a compelling personality and an ambition as big as any celebrity of her generation.
Stirring your ambition in equal parts to your imagination is the key
I’m sure anyone reading this has zero ambition to become an internationally successful pop music star. Nevertheless, there is no reason why you can’t take clues from what Madonna did to build her career. Smart choices on her music, a willingness to shock her fans and the public, and the restless spirit to keep reinventing herself.
You don’t have to use such a polarizing person as Madonna to investigate for how to take your career to new heights. There are plenty of examples you can use in the art world to help you ratchet up your art business.
New art print marketing webinar showcases successful print artists
You can find a bunch of them profiled in my just released, available free for a limited time only, webinar titled, “Harnessing the Art Print Market – Catch a Star.” I put it together for Digital Arts Studio, the premier giclee printer in Atlanta. It is part of the benefits of being a sponsor of the recently released second edition of my How to Profit from the Art Print Market book. Check it out and comment below after you do. It will help me do my own assessment of my work.
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