The entrepreneurial artist: Marketing & media / communications context (Part I) (2001)

Creative Business & Entrepreneurship

| 21 November 2011
Page 4 of 4


For some artists, communications comes naturally, or the art world comes to them. But what about artists, like the many I’ve seen in the world, who have to do these things all by themselves?

In what I’d call my case study of applying these ideas to a specific artistic situation, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with an artist. An artist who studied for fine arts degrees, an artist with ambition. I would not say huge ambition either.

The artist wanted choices for group shows. Choices and opportunities for international shows. To get solos that would allow for a complete, uncompromised statement.

To gain access to press, and to move out of a localised scene where there was a general implicit message—

  • “We don’t like your artwork”.
  • “We work with other artists”.
  • “Maybe later, but wait your turn”.
  • In fact, “Just sit back and wait.”

When I met this artist, and he told me his frustrations, I immediately thought... I’ve seen this so many times before. Maybe his art won’t ever be in the Tate, or the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Maybe it will be. But so what? There are so many other spaces and places.

For some artists,
communications comes
naturally, or the art world
comes to them.

But what about artists,
like the many I’ve seen
in the world, who have to do
these things
all by themselves?

One thing that was clear to me was that the art hadn’t found its audience, and this artist hadn’t found his tribe.

The artist started questioning his art, thinking maybe the art wasn’t “good enough”. I see this often.

For me, the art wasn’t the issue at all. Instead, effective communication was the issue. Finding the audience was the issue.

And I also thought, if the local art scene is NOT responding now, would it respond if those outside the scene showed interest?

In other words, will some people sitting on the fence show a greater interest, if the artist brings more to the table?

So, we agreed to work together, and conduct a mutual experiment, a working, flexible, three-year plan, and seeing whether media and communications strategies that I will outline in this presentation, would make any difference.