Your Stuff Is Not Art
That’s Why It’s Not Selling
For years now, we’ve been sold the idea that almost everything is art. Fashion. Food. Writing. Even construction work.
But let’s get real.
We don’t buy in any of those markets for the “art” of them. We buy because we see value in them.
The problem began, as it seems to usually begin, from marketing. Somewhere in a back office, perhaps in a Mad Men type of setting, people sat around and contemplated how to sell something. Something that probably wasn’t selling.
I can see them now, scratching their balding heads while the young, good-looking newcomer marketer is looking off into space.
All of a sudden he sits up.
“I’ve got it!” says the hotshot new guy, standing up like he’s really got it.
“Let’s call it art! People love that stuff! They’ll pay top dollar for that stuff!”
“Well, I don’t know about that, Bob,” says the senior marketer, pushing his wire-rimmed glasses back on his nose, the air conditioner gently blowing his only two strands of hair along the top of his almost-bald head. “It’s not in the numbers–”
And of course, Bob then makes fun of and demeans him, as one would back in that era. The sad part is that Bob was successful in his marketing campaign. And our poor senior marketer Tom was probably put under him as his underling.
Because of him, that Bob guy, we now have everything called art. When none of it really is.
What Art Is
I’m coming at this purely as to how it functions. Art expresses the inexpressible. Usually an emotion (remember that we are looking at what art does by itself). That is its main and primary purpose. Any other functions are ancillary.
Now when you put something in front of people and it functions as both art and something else, you’re in dangerous territory. That’s when people, who are not you, get to decide which function is more valuable.
Take for example a cake. If you make a beautiful cake and treat it like a work of art, that’s great. People will say the same thing. However, if you ask them to pay for it, assuming that you are charging a high price for said art, only the ones that see its primary purpose as art will purchase the cake. Because for most people, the primary purpose of cake is not to look at it, but to eat it. And you can make a tasty cake for cheap. If you know how to bake.
Most people just don’t need a pretty cake. They just want delicious cake.
They don’t need pretty things to live.
People Don’t Need Art
We can see that this is true, in effect, when it comes to tragedies. Calamities. Global disasters. Essentially, the bad things that happen to a wide range of people.
Let’s take the most recent example. The Pandemic.
During the Pandemic people faced crises. Losing jobs. Inability to work to make money. And keeping food on the table. Most of these involve the basic human needs of food, water, and shelter (I don’t count clothing as it’s a type of shelter; a walking shelter).
And when it came down to it, when people were forced to choose between paying rent or getting some “art” they chose rent. People need to live. You can always look at free art later.
But we can also see the evidence in the demise of art-based businesses. We saw clothing designers like Michael Kors, and Zac Posen struggle during the pandemic. Huge clothing stores like J. C. Penny and Belk went into bankruptcy. Leanne Pietrasinski (baker of cute macarons) even mentioned closing one of her storefronts.
It all boils down to life. What do people need to live? Not art (though some may beg to differ). But the necessities of life. Then art.
What This Means For You
This isn’t to say that art doesn’t have value. Of course, it does. And as long as people are financially, physically, and environmentally secure they’ll spend.
I’ve been watching a lot of videos in the art community talking about how their sales were down during parts of the Pandemic. But they’re seeing a resurgence in art buying.
If you’re not selling art, then don’t say it’s art. Tell people how it helps fill one of their needs. And then sell. Actually, just learn how to sell.
If you are an artist and want to sell your stuff, you might want to think about diversifying. Because there is a chance that another and maybe worse disaster is around the corner. And you’ve still got to eat.
As for me, I hold no delusions about any of my writings. I’ll just tell it like it is. A story.
It’ll keep you entertained.
You’ll think about it for a little while.
But it’s not art.
So please buy it :D (JK, but seriously if you want to, you can)