Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Posts tagged “Marketing

Art & Artmaking: Primordial Thoughts

 

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Martina Misar-Tummeltshammer  Unsplash

Personally, I am still working to figure out what art is, what the purpose of art is, and why some human beings even bother to make art. When I go back to the beginnings, the earliest expressions of what we now call art – cave paintings & carvings – I am captured by the thought that those primordial people had something other than making art in mind. I don’t think for an instant that our primordial ancestors asked about what they were doing. It’s almost as if an urge needed expression and carvings and cave paintings were simply the necessary outlet.

 

I believe as well that expressions through singing, chanting, dancing, drumming and the like all came into being and developed because of a rising need for the release of celebration and expression that could not be suppressed. They could not simply sit on their hands and ignore these creative urges that were rising up within them.

Today – and I promise to be very brief – art is treated as are all human products as an economic commodity. Those who buy and sell art, after stealing it from the artist – that is all but the motion picture artists – run off with the many objects of art in the world to buy and sell them with vigorous abandon. Success is often measured by the auction block price tag. And while the artist never sees a dime of those later transactions, that artist is deemed a great success because some of their work sold for thousands, even millions, of dollars. These are transactions which completely exclude the artists.

How did we get from our ancestral heritage of mark-making to today’s “art market”? It’s a question that has interested me for the past decade. Before that time I was all too willing to sell whatever artwork it was that I had made in order to become a “success”. No longer though. I’ve absolutely no interest in playing the art world game with all of its sham, glitter, and goo. I know why I make the art I do and the source from whence it comes. I even know the purpose of my art, and it isn’t to garner personal fame or fortune. In fact, since there’s little or nothing that I want to do to change that condition, is the question even worth my asking?

I think it may be of some value on a personal level because I am still trying to grasp my role as an artist in this world.

As I’m “talking” here, perhaps the question that I’m after is indeed deeply personal and can best be shaped by asking, how I can reconnect with those primordial ancestors who made such innocent and selfless marks? How best do I draw from their drive because I believe that, for them, it was a spiritual drive. So is mine.

In those primordial days, I don’t see someone sitting around thinking in terms of bison anatomy and landscape beauty that they wish to capture visually. I see someone whose entire world was spiritual. This is one of the marks of the emergence of humanity, the acknowledgment of connection with the spiritual realm(s).

I see a duality of vision – harmonious to be sure – wherein those early peoples could see both the living animals as well as their spirits at the same time. I neither know nor care what that looks like in literal terms. What I do care about is the fact of this dual vision they experienced and carried within themselves.

Somewhere, somehow, a person chose to celebrate and express that dual vision in imagery. Carving – even desiring to carve – and painting developed into a means of that celebratory expression. I want to know this selfsame celebration and expression – the primordial essence of what it means to be human and to make marks of meaning.

In my own parallel experience, my life has been deeply touched by Father God. He and I developed a relationship and to this day we live in that relationship. Because Father created me as an artist, something of our spiritual relationship rises up in me and will not be silenced or ignored. I must express and, yes, even celebrate, this relationship through my artmaking with Father. It is this celebration of relationship that leads me to see our artmaking together as an act of worship. If I’d been born as I am, millennia ago, I would have experienced this selfsame life, not of creativity, but of artistic expression.

As it is, I do chant and play drums as worship. I do paint and write as worship. The writing I am doing right here, right now, is an active celebration of my relationship with my Beloved Father God. In a way, I suppose I am that so-called caveman who has dire need to share, celebrate, and express his dual vision of the physical and the spiritual with the others of his tribal clan.

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Floating But Safe

tiffany-ceiling-smlI am floating and feeling somewhat disconnected. I am not lost. The floating is perhaps a number of things. I know that part of it is Father’s liberation from the strict laws & rules of theologist / institutional religion. That kind of floating is awesome and wondrous. I love that. I also know that some of the floating is Father’s liberation of my art. That too is free of the legalism & marketing forces of the gallery / museum / so-called art-world system. Father God has liberated both sides of my destiny, those of my faith, and of my art.

I sense that this disconnection I feel, this floating, is also a huge time of opportunity for me. Father has lead me to believe that stuff like loss, dislocation, change, adversity, etc., are in fact opportunities. They are difficult, maybe painful openings in life which allow for something new to be planted.

We plough the Earth, literally rip it open, in order to prepare it for new seed. I’ve come to grasp that my life is sometimes ripped open by situations and circumstance of loss, change, or adversity, and yet, even as I grieve in those times, I know that I’ve been ploughed open so that my loving Father God can plant new seeds of opportunity in me.

So often I’ve found myself tight fisted against these painful events and forces. In my youth tumult was a daily visitor and I wanted no more of it. But in my new life of relational faith, I’ve found at first a comfort, and now a joyful desire for the new seeds Father wants to bless me with. I’m not afraid anymore. When the plough of change comes roaring through, I now reel far less in the pain of adversity, loss, and change. Yes, it still hurts, I still grieve, but no where’s near as much as it used to. I think that’s because I know a new planting of opportunity is coming, and Father is making preparation(s) for it. I embrace my Father God and His plans for me and my destiny. I want them because in them I become more of who and what He has designed me to become, and in this way I bring Him glory, my life brings Him glory.

For me, feeling a sense of floating and disconnection is far less about the absence of safe ground beneath my feet. It has become more of a life-posture of being available to being drawn by Father into whatever He has written into my destiny. I need to say that a destiny is not a carved in stone mandatory program. We are not biological robots that Father plays around with. That’s Greco-Roman pantheon thinking. No, we are masters of our own lives because while Father has written a destiny for each of us, we are entirely free to go our own way. We have freewill, and that’s another subject for another time (see the teachings of Steve Harmon).

I willingly take up this posture of availability to Father’s will and ways, of desiring with all my heart to step into my identity and destiny. I willingly embrace the plough of adversity, of change, of loss, and of grief because my joy is in my Father God. He has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to hurt me (Jeremiah 29:11-13). My Father loves me and I can trust Him to surgically alter my life, just as we see in the Chronicles of Narnia, when Aslan cuts Eustice from his dragon self, setting him free.

I love feeling as if I’m floating with the only certainty being my relationship with and in my Father God. I am safe. I am blessed. I am lavishly cherished, as Graham Cooke might say. I am being brought into infinite prosperity. I am led to lay up all of my treasures in Father’s Heaven where they’re available forever (Matthew 6:19-21). My sense of feeling as if my life is floating is grounded in my complete trust in Father, in His infinite, divine, and lavish love for me, and in my relational faith with Him.

The grieving of change and of adversity are all opportunities just waiting to be planted in my ploughed up life where, under the care of my Father God, they will blossom and bear fruit of unknown consequence forever and ever.

Amen ~


Art Making and Social Media

Yellow Leaf - DetailSorry, I’ve been absent for the entire month of March.  A lot’s been going on. Which brings me to the need for balance, and the need for balanced communication.  What’s awesome about the on-going communication is that it’s two-way and relational.

I’ve just recently began the process, very new to me, of linking my blog (Creative harmonies) to my Facebook page (Lew Curtiss/Visual Artist); and to my ETSY store (Fingerprints); my Facebook page to the blog and to the store; the store to the blog and to my Facebook page.  In time I may “evolve” into consolidating the store and the blog into my own domain / website / gallery (Lew Curtiss (dot) com.  But for now it’s first things first.

In promoting and selling my art, I have several options:  1) I can make a “body of work” and run around seeking galleries to represent me;  2) I can create inventory and post it to ESTY/Fingerprints; 3) I can hoof it as a booth vendor to art-shows and offer my work through direct sales.  Or I can do some sort of a mixture of any two or three of these options.

I’m not an art marketing guru, but visionaries like Seth Godin all tell me that these days a viable, well-followed, online presence either enhances my opportunities for art sales, or it flat-out becomes the single most powerful vehicle for the sale of my work.  It’s all about building a good, open, transparent reputation; about making and offering quality work; about minimizing impediments of purchase to the buyer.  The internet allows me to host my own gallery instead of running around trying to get my work into brick & mortar venues.  It also makes my work available world-wide with one effort.  All of this happens only when I link my digital assets so that one thing logically leads to another.

I need to say here that I’m not against galleries or art shows.  I’m in favor of them and will use them, but they’re not my only access to exposure.  Today, because of digital-media tools, I can go around the gatekeepers and get to market on my own.

I repeat; I’m rapidly learning this stuff and am not a marketing guru.  I’m an artist, and if I want my work to “show & sell” I’ve got to make it known through any means I can, hence the reading and research.  You need to understand, I’m nearly 60, nearly, but not quite.  And what I mean is that  I’m “old school marketing”.  I’m telling you this because my generation, the last of the so-called “Baby Boomers” has had to learn and re-learn to invent and re-invent themselves.  This is something our parents and grand-parents told us would never happen.

In college, part of my communications degree centered on media-driven marketing.  The internet was still a big secret.  DOS had just been created.  Computers were the size of semi-trucks.  And the Jobs / Wozniak partnership that would become Apple was just getting started.  What I learned in old-school marketing is what Seth Godin calls marketing “at” people.

“Marketing by interrupting people isn’t cost-effective anymore.  You can’t afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages, in large groups, and hope that some will send you money.  Instead, the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other.  Ignite consumer networks and then get out ot the way and let them talk.”

pg 6 / Idea-Virus Read & Share / Seth Godin

My kid’s generation is so lucky, and I am so jealous.  Why?, because the digital tools I’m learning to use to promote me, my art, and I, transform my reach into global-reach, and it didn’t cost me a penny!  That’s just plain alchemy, and I’m totally excited.

What Godin and others are writing about is the cultivation of relationships.  Buyers want to know something about the artist whose work they’re buying.  They want to see the artist in studio creating their work.  They want to know how the piece was made, why it was made, and why the process is significant.  They’re a generation in search of meaning and significance wherever they can find it.

Developing relationships is the basis of offering who I am and what I create to the world, hence the on-going need to learn how to employ these tools.  Social Media is promotional, relational, marketing media.  It is, if not complete transparency, at least translucence.  My “business” is not just my business, but yours as well.  That’s part of the reason you’re here, reading my blog.  We’re developing a rapport, a relationship, and while we may have never met face to face, we’re getting to know one another, one link, one post, one aspect at a time.