Monthly Archives: October 2007

Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word

Reprised and re-edited from a blog post published on Absolute Arts in December 2006

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every artist was first an amateur.”

If you examine any professional artist who paid the bills from their creative output in his or her lifetime, you’ll find each of them more than made peace with making commerce, they embraced it. Most were or are salespeople in their own right. Not necessarily the quintessential back slapping variety, but at least someone who could be counted on to explain the work in a compelling fashion even if it meant getting out of their introspective comfort zone for a time. A few may have had family, friends or management to take on the marketing duties for them, but most were involved in the process of getting their art to market.

It’s no different for actors or writers. Part of the gig is press junkets, media exposure, book signings, author parties, etc. While fun and glamorous to a point, they are wearisome, repetitive and time-consuming tasks each necessary to help generate enthusiasm for the work. In other words, to get people to buy. If no one talks up the book or movie, no one is going to see it. To get the early adopters on board, you have to beat the bush.

To some, there is shame in embracing commerce because to them it violates the quaint overrated sappy notion of the starving artist. To my mind, starving is a bleak situation that cannot possibly help the creative process… lead eating mad geniuses aside. That doesn’t mean a well fed artist can’t be hungry. Virtually every “known” artist got that way in part by being hungry. But it was not hunger for food; their hunger was for recognition and validation. Ambition is what fuels such hunger. Consider that a well fed successful artist can do worlds of good with celebrity and money. What is wrong with that?

Someone emailed me recently (November 2006) to say they had seen a quote from my book, How to Profit from the Art Print Market, posted on blog penned by artist, EC (Lisa) Stewart, aka Creative Goddess. Lisa’s post is apropos for this blog as well:

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ArtExpo Las Vegas & Decor Expo Atlanta Shows Mirror the Market – Part Three

New Capitalism, the Future of Tradeshows (Part Three)

I assume there will be another ArtExpo Vegas show next year. That said it’s doubtful, unless the economy magically revs beyond wildest expectations, a majority of exhibitors this year will invest more heavily in it next year. There was plenty of guessing about how the results of this show would affect the ArtExpo New York show, little of it with a positive vibe. That is, West Coast artists and publishers tired of the travel and expense of going to New York would love to have a viable show in the region. The question for them now is do they continue with the headaches and expense of distant travel to New York, or do they speculate hoping Vegas will grow into something more promising?

Regarding speculation, the rumor persists show owner, Summit Business Media LLC, has its art and framing properties on the block or has advanced to negotiation on a sale. Given the art & framing group is the equivalent of a redheaded stepchild among the financial media properties owned, being pursued and assembled by the still relatively new self-styled financial services media business, it seems a reasonable guess.

Rumors Even in the Best of Times Run Rampant

Such rumors gain credibility when there have been no public statements from the ownership to indicate otherwise, or that it has long range plans for its art and framing properties. Whenever a vacuum exists, rumors rush in to fill the void. In this case, they look to be more on the accurate than the wild side to many observers. Time will tell as an entire industry waits to learn what will become of flagship shows and magazines that help form and lead it.

Tradeshows are designed to be opportunities to write new business and make new contacts for exhibitors. Over time, this model for art & framing tradeshows has evolved into less selling opportunities, but has remained viable for opening new accounts. Decor Expo New York was such a show, especially for meeting international buyers. However, as buyer levels dropped and expenses continued to rise, exhibitors began to abandon ship and ultimately caused this cornerstone show to come to a sad and somewhat surprising end after more than 25 years.

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ArtExpo Las Vegas & Decor Expo Atlanta Shows Mirror the Market – Part Two

The New Millennium Brings Change and New Challenges to the Industry

The early years of the 21st century set the stage for major changes within the industry. For example, against a trend of declining trade magazine ad pages, the industry witnessed the largest shows ever. There was the demise of the PPFA (Professional Picture Framers Association) shows as stand alone entities, and the rise and success of the industry’s only regional framing and art show in the form of the West Coast Art & Frame show. 1999 brought the sale of the Commerce Publishing Company’s ABC (Art Buyer’s Caravan), Galeria and Frame-o-rama show and DECOR magazine to Pfingsten Publishing LLC.

The Commerce Publishing Company sale to Pfingsten Publishing LLC led to its acquisition of Advanstar Communications’ ArtExpo shows, Art Business News magazine and other related media and show properties. The Pfingsten’s ownership also brought the end of CPC’s regional art & framing tradeshows. Deemed marginally profitable and contracting in size, the new investment firm owner cancelled shows in California, Orlando, Dallas, Louisville and rotating shows elsewhere. The closing of these shows was an early indication of both changing market conditions and different management philosophy.

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