DON'T MAKE ART THAT SELLS, MAKE A MIRROR INSTEAD

Recently in a community that I belong to, someone asked a question  "Does anyone find themselves trying to make art they know will sell?" Here are my thoughts on the subject.

The basics of business is to make something people want; then can they pay, will they pay. How do you know what they want? Ask them. Interviewing potential customers is generally considered one of the best ways of testing market value, although its not infallible. Try to figure out why people buy art, and then find your people. I'm of the opinion that there are artist who disdain viewers and act like their taste is an affront to their refined sensibilities. It seems to me that you should be always interested in how other people view your work. Better not to aim for work that sells, as if you can predict when styles will swing but rather try to make work that other people find interesting. Try to make other people feel something.

That being said, my Art isn't for everyone. It's not supposed to be, because trying to make something for everyone is an insurmountable task. I think about books like "The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao", and it feels like it was written just for me. That is because it was, according to Junot Diaz,

 "It's that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And part of what inspired me was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors." 

In addition to making mirrors, I think you never can't get too good at talking about your work. I've come to believe that your artist statement is a hypothesis that the words you have written will complement the work.  As you test that hypothesis, the words should evolve and change over time. That doesn't mean lie. If the art is about nothing, say it's formal. Defining it, limiting it to words: That's a huge struggle, but the idea is to tell a story about your art that gets people wanting to see it.

Practically speaking, it seems straightforward enough to prepare some words to describe the work. There are so many times when you have to explain to other people what you do without the work being present, those complementary words come in handy. I take that opportunity to experiment with the phrasing and context to find the best combination that's both interesting and helpful. As we move into an phase of social media and content marketing, the need for intriguing, expository words will not diminish. 

Angela BortoneComment