Many photography enthusiasts consider themselves artists and their photography art. This is fine. But, many of them feel that art should stand on its own and not need any business strategies.
The following excerpt is from a Facebook post of Colin Theriot. I first heard about Colin Theriot while networking with other marketers. He is a highly regarded copywriter. He is also one of those multi-talented people. Do a search on Facebook to find out more about him.
Here is the excerpt:
Here are a whole bunch of ways that thinking like an artist can improve your business.
1. Create your genre – if you are having trouble being a competitor at a certain level, put a twist in things. Just enough so that the public has to create a new sub-category where you are now not competing, but have a feature that makes you stand alone. Dali took realistic painting into bizarre worlds of his imagination. Picasso took raw emotion and stripped it down to single lines, rendered just-so on the first try. How will you take what others do and make it your own?
2. Go meta – your work is not simply your work. Good work exists as almost an ongoing commentary of all previous and current work. How are you elevating it? How are you bringing in something new? The renaissance commented on the poor rendering of traditional religious iconography. Impressionism commented on the removal of true light and real nature from classical art. Cubism explored the forms and shapes of composition, devoid of realistic rendering. What would YOU change about your industry, and how can your work make that statement for you?
3. Start a school – create imitators, and you will position yourself as a leader. You are either a student, a craftsman, or a master. Mastery is the path to more profit, with less work. Monet was going blind, accidentally created Impressionism, and then taught perfectly healthy people how to “see” like he did. What can you teach your peers – even your competitors – that will make the world see you as the true source?
4. Become a piece – many of the most successful postmodern artists – that is to say, ones that made themselves famous and rich BEFORE they died – were excellently engineered personas. Their work became more interesting and desirable because THEY were interesting people. Warhol. Schnabel. Picasso. Dali. How does who YOU are make an impact on your work and your customers?
5. Hide the work – Art is frequently about an instantaneous idea transmitted visually. What is hidden is the planning, the toil, the repetition, the work… All the audience sees is the appearance of effortless and rapid genius. The gallery is the showroom, the studio is secret. Sargent created paintings that looked like perfect impressions. Every brush stroke is perfect on the first try. This is because he did one at a time, and if it wasn’t perfect, he wiped it off – sometimes hundreds of times. But the one he left on the canvas was perfect. Make it look easy, and you will get imitators who cannot duplicate.
6. Tell stories – the value of a piece of art is amplified by its story. The pedigree of its creator. The context of creation. The tale of inspiration. The provenance of who owned it. The geography of where it’s been. The history it has survived. All of this makes some paint on fabric worth much much more than other paint on other fabric. Because of this mechanism, sometimes even FORGERIES of famous works have more value than the originals, because they have a better story. Why is your work more meaningful BECAUSE of the story instead of the work itself?
7. Where is as important as what – art, like business, is not a meritocracy. The most accomplished, skilled, talented, transcendent art is nothing without an audience. Where is it shown? Where does it live? Is it on a piece of board in someone’s home, or is it forever preserved on the ceiling of a building that is, itself, a work of art? Michelangelo is more famous than his contemporaries because of what he painted ON. So where does your work “live”? How can you place your work in more prestigious places?
8. It’s not done – The art arguably belongs to the artist until he or she is dead. Don’t be afraid to revisit old works and themes. Mine them, aug,net them with a fresh twist, and profit from them again. Cezanne was frequently thrown out of museums for busting out paints and adjusting his own work even as it was hanging on the gallery wall. The writer Flannery O’Connor frequently re-wrote her stories every time they were re-published. Gene Rodrigue made millions by drawing the same blue dog over and over. How can you extend the life of everything you create?
9. Vision should exceed skill – in art school, I quickly learned that my grade was not based on the work I turned in, but what high ambitions I intended, but fell short of. Aim high. Try hard. Get close. Your audience forgives as long as they get value. Plus, this attitude challenges you to change and improve. That way, the audience never gets tired of your “thing” because your thing gets better and better.
10. Performance is a shortcut – performance art wasn’t a thing until postmodernism. Or rather, performance was respected as a craft, but not seen as the “product” itself. But more than any other representation of ideas, performance is seen as the highest perceived skill level for the performer. And that leads to the highest perceived value for the audience. If this doesn’t click for you and art, think of music. Concert tickets cost way more than albums, because you get to see them play the same song IN REAL LIFE. How can you perform your content into existence and create more value?
11. Borrowing as homage – like above, when I talked about going meta, there is a way to reference and include everything awesome that came before you, as long as you cite it, and revere it, before you argue with and subvert it. In business, like art, you need to acknowledge the shoulders you stand on before you put on the cleats and start stomping. You’d be amazed at how much you can just repeat what your forebears have said, whole giving credit and deference, and still get massive benefit by being seen as an “expert”.
12. Legacy – this is not necessarily about thinking of longevity, but more about how your work will be seen in the context of your niche. Is it just more of the same? Or did you change the game? Did you shift the focus? Did you start a trend? If you are doing it right, you are getting haters, imitators, fans, and critics. That means you MATTER. Make a mark. It’s better to make a mark than it is to be good.
13. Rarity – all works of art are unique. Even when they make printed copies, they limit and number them, to make them more valuable because they are rare. Now, as a business, you want to have things that any and everyone can buy. But you also want to think about rarity, and how that can create an eliteness – a collector mentality – in your fan base. What can you create or share that is DELIBERATELY small scale and exclusive? How can you leverage that perception to charge more for the same information people can find elsewhere?
There are many more lessons, obviously. But I think thirteen is a good stopping point. Does this spark your interest? Is this something you got value from? If so, how?