Monday, May 12, 2008

Missing The Message

Lately I've been wondering how much people really think about art – even when they're interested in it.
A couple of months ago, I released my fourth web-based 'unlimited edition' print. It's an artwork I created to be downloaded, free-of-charge, and printed at home. I offer to hand sign any prints that were sent to me with a return envelope and postage paid. The original works were black and white, and made using mediums that reproduce well – lead pencil, black and white watercolours – so that each print looked as authentic as possible, even when printed using inexpensive equipment.
The idea behind it was a genuine attempt to enable anyone to own a personalised, and original print. The works themselves have been popular, judging from the number sent back to me to be signed. Yet I'm puzzled by the predominant discussion of the idea. Most comments have focussed on the marketing 'buzz'. Mention of the prints is included in articles like Street Smart Stealth Marketing Pays Off: a skim through this piece uncovers almost every word and phrase that, when coupled with the idea of 'art', make me cringe: entertainment and media productions, franchising, trademarks, multiplied and amplified marketing, targeted audience, guerrilla tactics, and of course, the summation, stealth marketing.
I publicise my work and myself. Art is my career – my life! – but it is also a deep and complicated need to communicate, somehow, with an audience. So, of course, I want people to see it.
Art is elitist. It's inaccessible to a vast number of people, except in reproduction. Even then, it's just a photograph in a book or catalogue or a low res' file on the internet. My prints are an attempt to change that, to give something that is an artwork itself. It's modest but genuine and representative of a much bigger concept that is related to the importance of ideas and art – not advertising – in everyone's day-to-day life.

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