Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marketing schmarketing...

There are so many blogs, tweets, books, etc about marketing your art it gets tiresome sometimes.  It often feels that as artists we are hawking a "product" and I certainly don't think of my work that way.

Then there's publicity - it is such a crazy world!  When I had my first big two person show the reviewer came up to me and said while they preferred my work, that it was stronger than the artist I was showing with she could only give me a mention because the other artist was The Story.  My fellow exhibitor was recovering (nicely I am happy to say) from brain surgery and was indeed the focus of the review.  While they mentioned me briefly and included a picture of my work they went on for paragraphs about the other artist but not their work except for a mention.  In the end tremendously unfair to both of us.  Recently in a discussion with a marketing person/art reviewer I told them about this, they merely shrugged saying while it's unfortunate that's the way it is.  Publicity is just weird but willing to explore all options recently I tried a new angle, I contacted some PR folks, one firm I've tried before and I'm not sure how they stay in business as getting them to reply is worse than pulling teeth.  Another firm I contacted had not read through my materials nor did they look at my work, their one and only question in every correspondence was how much was I willing to spend...it was all about the money.

So having tried a number of different angles I am back to my normal routine of contacting galleries, applying for grants, using a more personal approach with people.  As much as I like being isolated in the studio I'm also a people person so really like the personal approach.  Another favorite of mine is the great chain of personal connections.   Lastly, there's no question I'm a huge fan of galleries.  They have all the mechanisms in place to keep publicity flowing and I just get to paint.  A good gallery is invaluable.  Believe me gallery folks work hard for their artists!

Let me know what you have experienced with marketing, PR and the media please post your comments, stories.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Solutions to some of todays biggest problems ....

Photo by Dave Martin / AP
The  title of my blog is Thoughts on Art, Travel and Life (heavy on the art) and I'm going to expand the focus a bit this time.  This entry is about creative solutions for some very big problems facing us today.  I've been watching all the anguish over the Mississippi River flooding and have a solution.  If you are going to build on a flood plain as active as the one along the Mississippi then why not build your house on a barge - when the river rises so does your house!  I think it could really work just keep a boat nearby so you can get to higher ground.  Also to keep your house from floating away tie it off to something or use pilings like marinas use which allow docks to rise and lower with the tides. I saw some pictures recently of people trying interesting solutions to keep the water away, one person built an impressive dike around their property and it would have worked perfectly except it appeared broken at one end.  I think it would be kinda cool to have a really huge dike around your property...like a solid mountain ring.  You wouldn't see your neighbors but could scramble up and get a great view.  We should really study what Holland does, they are ingenious when it comes to water issues.  When I was there I saw massive dikes holding back the sea - most impressive!  On top of that they let their sheep and cows use the dikes and flood planes for grazing, so livestock is taken care of and no mowing! I had some great conversations with the Dutch re Holland and relationship with water...we could seriously learn a lot from them

Then there's just ALL that water!  I have a solution that could generate thousands of jobs: hauling jobs, construction jobs, water purification jobs, etc - what if there was a way to capture as much water as possible with pipelines, trucks, trains any container we can find.  Heck, make containers to do just that and moveable pipelines to syphon off excess water...even more jobs created!  Move the excess to areas that are facing drought or prone to forest fires, store it in massive reservoirs allowing the earth to filter it naturally or into container farms similar to the sewage treatment plant on Boston Harbor, clean up the water and use it to water lawns, golf courses which are notorious for their water abuse, use it for watering crops or anything that "grey water" could be used for.  Of course there are lots of groups, people and government red tape that would be against it or hamstring it for one reason or another.

After the massive outbreak of spring tornados this year I also got to thinking.  You know how they always say if you are outside and see a tornado coming head for a ditch...so what if you built dirt ramps around your house so the tornado skips up and over, or if you built you house so it drastically slopes - maybe half the house built into a hill.  Of course the best thing would be to have one of those fabulous hobbit houses.  I'd like one but realize they are not for everyone.

While these seem like light-hearted or simplistic solutions I think they, or some version of them, could work with considerable tweeking and wonder why we always just go back to building the same old thing that will get washed or blown away again.  Plus I have to say it really fries my bacon to see all the housing construction materials etc piled up in the trash.  We chopped down a lot of trees for those houses and now we have to chop down many more, seems incredibly foolish.  One thing I do know is that the storms and water problems of this year has hit people who are already working so hard to make life work and my heart goes out to them. Lives and dreams have been lost and it's just so painful.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In praise of feedback!

I met with a gallery director this week which is an incredible treat because normally you contact a gallery and then never ever hear from them again.  This has happened to me a lot lately.  Last month I contacted 6 galleries sending them materials according to their instructions on the websites, contacted another 4-6 by email as they instructed.  Within a reasonable amount of time I sent a follow up email...have not heard ONE thing back from any of them.  Next will be the phone call to them.  Do they even look at your web link?  Do they even open the envelope with the CD of your images?  I have visions of galleries getting envelopes and just tossing them in the rubbish.  It just boggles the mind to think how many artists are out there versus how many galleries. I've also been in galleries and shared the horror of when someone comes in to show the director their art and try to get represented.  That is a killer, the worst approach ever and terribly embarrassing for all.  
But this week I got to have a valuable face-to-face with a gallery owner who spent a healthy chunk of time with me to look over my work.  He did so thoughtfully, slowly, while I practiced painful and uncommon restraint from babbling like an idiot over each piece.  When I get nervous I babble, this time I'm proud to say I did not.  Once again I tried to show a "range" of work, translation - it looked like an artist displaying her multiple personalities.  He was most kind and said it's always good to see a range then proceeded to give me what I dearly love and desparately need…terrific, clear, intelligent feedback.  None of the I like this, don't like that stuff.  He looked long at each piece and offered a range of comments. Of course what I wanted to hear was that I was clearly an undiscovered genius and his gallery would take all my work then turn me into an Art Star that puts Picasso to shame (he did a lot of different styles of work too…so hey!)  While it's always nice to hear good comments from friends and family they usually are not always things I want or should hear, however I am lucky to have some friends that give feedback like this guy did.  Now it's up to me to put his comments to good use.