are we trying to be the brand?

So Hirst has his glass boxes, medical stuff and ridiculous spot paintings (no one want his swirl pictures, it seems…), Emin recycles her biography ad nauseam, Rachel Whiteread populates galleries with mouldings, Anthony Gormley populates the world with mouldings of himself, and so on… There was a time when artists used to try different things and be, you know, creative. But too much variety doesn’t sell as well as one solid brand, as any ad man will tell you, and art practice now has been poisoned by money. Ironic that so many artists consider themselves above the grubby world of commerical art, isn’t it? As Germaine Greer argued earlier this week, art of the future needs to be more than an exclusive commodity for the rich.
Fresh out of ideas | | Guardian Unlimited Arts:

The article in question is about Damien Hirst plagiarizing himself and the debate as to whether he has any original ideas left, but the thing that caught my eye was this comment at the end of the article. It hit me because I have been told that having a recognizable style and cohesion between works is crucial. In marketing you want a recognizable brand to help your customers recognize your name.

I think many of us have gotten so caught up in the business of being artists that we frequently get caught in a style (a technique in my case) and we possibly wall ourselves off from trying new things. I know I have to, I am working on some new things in my sketchbook and will have to expand my key techniques to explore them and maybe work out from there. Style is what we have intrinsically that shows in our work, our overall brand will come out no matter what. at least, I have to keep telling myself that, it is easy to get set in a rhythm.

I am quite looking forward to it really. I am also looking small scale for some upcoming shows, and while I was thinking of doing some of my key technique work to have a solid presence, now I am thinking of moving on a little and trying some new things. I still feel like I am on the edge of some new works, I look at my sketchbook and I wonder where they come from!

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3 thoughts on “are we trying to be the brand?

  1. The issue of having a ‘recognisable style’ to be marketable is one that I find challenging. It feels so restrictive. The first painting I sold in an art show was a washy watercolour of a reclining kangaroo. It’s a nice style that I visit occasionally, but a friend of the family remarked ‘Now you’ve found out what sells, all you have to do is make hundreds of them.’ The idea made me quail, not only because the idea of spending endless hours churning out near identical pictures was unappealing, but because the blatant commercialism felt so at odds with the artistic ideal.

    I paint and draw in wildly varied styles. If I were to try to make a career as a serious artist, I would not be able to switch style at will like I do with my commercially oriented works. I suppose that’s why I stick to low investment (emotional and financial) techniques and marketable subjects. Yes, what I do is small-time commercial hackery, but at least I don’t have to contend with the contortions involved in ‘being true to my art’ whilst ‘maintaining a consistent marketable style’. In my case, doing the latter would not be consistent with doing the former.

    It’s an excellent point that you have raised. And too difficult an issue for me. I wish you luck.

  2. Where does art end and graphic design begin? If you are an artist, or an art critic, determined to navel gaze on this subject then one has to look at the style that has been created by the atrist and asking “How much more is there that can be written in this language and still be called inovative?”

    Probably the only true way of judging is to know the motivation of the artist. Are they saying to themselves “The dissected pig sold really well, so now I’ll try to dissect a cow”, or is the artist genuinely fascinated by the different perspective bovine offers of porcine.

    As a consumer I just go for what I like, but I retain the right to dislike Picasso because all his stuff looks the same. Oh, and he was a prat too.

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