The entrepreneurial artist: A conceptual target-marketing framework (Part II) (2001)

Creative Business & Entrepreneurship | 14 December 2011
Page 5 of 5

It’s not my job to say, “Nothing is really off the record when an artist is interviewed— and, responsibly, when the recorder is on. Like a politician, the artist cannot give information, and then decide afterwards that this will not go into an article.”

As a journalist, it’s not my job to be a media relations advisor or a teacher, in an interview context.

It’s not my job to be the artist’s friend— my loyalties are to my editor and to try to be truthful to the readership. As readers, that’s what most readers expect.

So, in the context of the case study, I gave the artist media training, and showed him how to feed the press. What to say, what not to say. How to anticipate questions, and how to deal with the difficult ones.

When we reviewed the press clippings that resulted, we were amazed how easy it could be to get the right message... directly into certain magazine and newspaper pages.

Artist trading

We also thought about the business of art, what I’d call “art trading”. We thought about business situations and on how business people trade products and services for money. But the art world doesn’t seem to function in this way until a certain level.

So, we thought about, how can an artist trade, and what can the artist trade when money is not really involved, or does not really cover the costs of materials, time, and expertise. What added value can the artist provide? How can the artist get more that is desired, when he has not been the chosen one?

The starting point for this... was that the artist found people and places... that he was interested in, and he found people interested in her, and then the deal-making could occur. Access to a group show for a group show, a solo— which through a press initiative, could raise the profile of the gallery, a place to stay or a teaching lead. Or interesting discussions. Anything really, to think of the relationship as “give” and “take”— instead of “give me”.

And to distinguish oneself as a “business”, as opposed to completely relying upon the Art. In fact, you could say pressuring the Art to be a miracle-worker. A complete problem-solver.

On the international circuit, several art people trade opportunities— explicitly and implicitly. Simple investigations will reveal this:

“R.J., we don’t make money on this, and we’ve done this all before. The artist flies in, we pay for an opening and an invitation— maybe a small catalogue. We put them up, take them out, and get them press.

Then afterwards they’re back on the plane and we’re lucky if we ever hear from them again. What do we get out of this?” —Quote from Asian gallery owner when discussing about whether to offer a show to an artist

Clearly, this voice is a little bitter. But the point is that this person has been asked several times to consider investing time and money into an artist’s show, and is asking for something in return for their efforts that is equitable.

In this situation, it resulted in the galleryist receiving a print from a print series, inspired by the location where the art was to be shown. That was enough to make this artist stand out among 20.

The problem, within a competitive environment, is supply and demand. There are a lot of artists out there looking for shows, and there are a lot of good artists. Sometimes offering to put up a show or artwork is enough. But sometimes it isn’t.

So the question could be, like any other product or service being offered, what added value is the artist bringing to the table?

Part III: Results will be released next week.