Is the Next Big Thing About to Happen?

Today’s digital world, including giclees, doesn’t allow much for it. If you can figure out how to create true authenticity in your art career and properly promote it, you will reap great rewards.

Watts_wackerI’ve been a huge fan of futurist Watts Wacker since I first heard him speak to a group of tourism executives circa 1999. His presentation was fascinating and full of compelling information.

He was as riveting a speaker as any I’ve heard. That he managed to mesmerize his audience of business executives while wearing long hair, shorts, sockless loafers and a rumpled button down shirt made him more interesting. It was a rare encounter where I found myself thinking, "How fun it must be to be that smart, that cool, that self-confident and worthy of having organizations fly a person in and pay them thousands to hear their ideas for a mere 90 minutes?"

At the time, his international bestselling book, co-authored with Jim Taylor, The 500 Year Delta: What Happens After What Happens Next was riding high on the charts. And, his subsequent books, Visionary’s Hand, and The Deviant’s Advantage plus his latest, What’s Your Story?: Storytelling to Move Markets, Audiences, People, and Brands provide more profound and practical insight from this informative oracle.

Finding a Way to Fill the Yearning for Authenticity Can Drive Your Art Career

A key fact I landed on from The 500 Year Delta was in the monumental changes we are living through, there is a societal yearning for authenticity. Today’s digital world, including giclees, doesn’t allow much for it. If you can figure out how to create true authenticity in your art career and properly promote it, you will reap great rewards.

Wacker’s always thought provoking monthly newsletter is penned by him and published by his company, First Matter LLC. The essay most apropos to this blog is from the February 2008 issue. It does not disappoint. With permission, here it is:

Keep Your Eyes Open I’m Convinced it’s About to Happen by Watts Wacker

I can’t help but keep thinking about this being the 40th anniversary of the ’68 Chicago convention and the tragedies of both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Especially now that so many have suggested that we are at the same, or at least, similar crossroads today, I just keep thinking about it.

I actually disagree with the assessment of similarity to the two periods of time. In 1968 the social mood was much more “down with authority” … today? … it’s much more like “are you prepared? … and is there such a thing as being an authority?” We want our institutions to be prepared for the future and we’ve not so sure they are so.

There was an artist who captured the ‘60’s, Peter Max. Peter’s an amazing man. Philanthropist, humanitarian, environmentalist and philosopher … he is the most successful living artist in the world. He truly was the catalyst for connecting art and business. Max was the first person ever to have his work placed upon everything from bed sheets to sneakers. His product was out-licensed to the tune of $1 billion (yes, billion) before 1970.

While he would likely refer to himself as a neo-expressionist today, he has traveled from realist to pop artist (maybe archetype on this one) to his latest definition. His prescience in seeing how “the poster” was on the cusp of unprecedented ranges and intensities of color (all at inexpensive and high quality) allowed him to connect romantic, playful and psychedelic. He created the yellow submarine for the Beatles. Toulouse-Lautrec would have been proud. Peter readily says that his love of the cosmos and childhood expectation of becoming an astronomer was a major source of inspiration for the art of the 60’s. He captured a period of time.

Today, we should be looking for “that look”. What I mean is, what is the look for today? We’re far enough “in” to the 21st century. And, like Peter, I believe it will be somebody born in Europe … developing years in Asia … than blossom in the USA. However, in the 2010’s it will be some other order and more than likely an artist who blossoms in Asia. Keep your eyes open … I’m convinced it’s about to happen.

I’m in agreement with Watt’s observations and predictions. If you want to read my TalkBack comments on his site and peruse some very interesting links related to Watts’ commentary, go here.

This post comes on the close of the 30th Annual ArtExpo New York show where in its heyday none other than Peter Max used the venue to further his career. Wouldn’t it be great if the artist whose talent will rise to grab our collective consciousness as Watts’ envisions was exhibiting there this year? That fantasy aside, given the changing dynamics of the art market, I wouldn’t bet on such a notion. It’s far more likely the art print market and its primary venue will undergo untold major changes before the next big thing comes calling. Just as The Beatles and Peter Max helped revolutionize music and art by being different and not of the status quo, I believe the next big thing will break out of some yet unknown venue or channel.

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