Can Brand Management Help Artists Be Commercially Successful?

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After div­ing head­long into the Sept/Oct edi­tion of Aus­tralia Vogue Liv­ing — New Gen­er­a­tion arti­cle, which high­lights some of the bright­est crop of design, art and archi­tec­ture tal­ent, it was inter­est­ing to see the very dif­fer­ent paths the artists had tak­en to get the well deserved recog­ni­tion.

There is a pletho­ra of great tal­ent in the visu­al arts, but so few are long-term com­mer­cial suc­cess­es. If some retail brands worked half as hard as some artists, they would be top sell­ers. So should artists look to some good old fash­ion brand­ing skills?

Miran­da Skoczek, also fea­tured in the New Gen­er­a­tion arti­cle, has had her work fea­tured in Cool Hunter, the Design Files, Vogue, Belle, exhi­bi­tions at the renowned Edwina Cor­lette Gallery and more. She says that her first inter­na­tion­al show 4 years ago in Hong Kong was ‘pret­ty cool”.

The Skoczek style has become con­ta­gious. So, is her rise in pop­u­lar­i­ty due to a well-con­nect­ed PR agent? No she’s nev­er had one, only her deal­er — oth­er than that she does it all her­self. She says, “By pro­mot­ing ‘myself’, I’m pro­mot­ing my ‘style’; my dress, my home, almost all facet’s of my life are an exten­sion of my prac­tice.” Her art is part­ly influ­enced by fash­ion, inte­ri­ors and design, and there­fore, imbued with a cer­tain sense of ‘the now’, which keeps things rel­e­vant to today’s con­sumers — just like a good brand. Even though she bor­rows from the his­to­ry of image mak­ing, she cer­tain­ly has her eye on what soci­ety is respond­ing to.

Miranda’s one piece of advise to emerg­ing artists: “Work hard, be famil­iar with what oth­ers are doing, but DON’T com­pare your­self to them. Be true to your vision.”

question_tnLon­don based artist Mar­tin O’Neil has cer­tain­ly had his share of ups and downs, but is now one of London’s most cov­et­ed illus­tra­tors.

He admits that it took him a long time to realise that ‘he’ was the brand and clients came to get the ‘O’Neill blender’ as he calls his col­lage style. He has an agent in Lon­don and one in Toron­to, both he has worked with for over a decade, they dri­ve 40% of his com­mer­cial work. The oth­er 60% is all word-of-mouth — a healthy com­bi­na­tion.

I strike a bal­ance between being a com­mer­cial artist for hire and being a ‘tra­di­tion­al’ artist who shows and sells. Social media works well for both and has brought my work to peo­ple all over the world. But I still think tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing tech­niques are the best. I send out invites by post and have real art in real spaces.” His most excit­ing exhi­bi­tion was a show called ‘PAIN’ in a den­tal surgery in Hack­ney’.

His advise to emerg­ing artists is to; “Look fur­ther afield to more obscure sub­ject mat­ters and your ref­er­ences will be rich­er. If you can see a band­wag­on you’ve missed it.”

An emerg­ing artist who has found her unique style with­in the labyrinthine paths of Fine Art, is Deb­bie Macken­zie. Hav­ing stud­ied Design before mov­ing into the Ad agency world, she has come well equipped for the brand­ed artist jour­ney. She says her key chal­lenge as an emerg­ing artist is cre­at­ing aware­ness — which she is doing through social media — and get­ting con­nect­ed to the right peo­ple. She plans on engag­ing a PR agent short­ly to help build her brand.

At the out­set of any busi­ness cash flow is the tight­est and nev­er so much so as an artist. Deb­bie says, “My work main­ly comes from pri­vate Com­mis­sions, Art Shows and word of mouth. I’ve found this is the most prof­itable way at the moment, gal­leries charge any­where from 40 — 50% com­mis­sion so it’s a big chunk of earn­ings.” She splits her time between her com­mis­sioned style as well as an abstract range, which she feel is her adver­tis­ing back­ground look­ing for sat­is­fac­tion to please a mar­ketable audi­ence.

Whilst most artists would shiv­er at the word ‘man­age­ment’ — it is a real­i­ty to gain com­mer­cial suc­cess. The core attrib­ut­es of any great brand, is to have a fan­tas­tic offer­ing, a clear core essence (the one thing that every­thing must relate to), be believ­able and trust­ed (don’t be a one night won­der) and chal­lenge the sta­tus quo (don’t be like the oth­ers). And, these are all attrib­ut­es any good and poten­tial­ly com­mer­cial­ly suc­cess­ful artist, should look to have too.

Also, there is some­thing about the des­per­ate artist that is part of the appeal — the drunk­en pros­ti­tute-lov­ing Toulouse Lautrec, the pover­ty strick­en and love lost Van Gogh — we want artists to live a life that is so marked­ly dif­fer­ent to our own com­mutable-nine-to-five, a life that stems from a deep pas­sion.

Peo­ple remem­ber sto­ries not facts; hence all great brands have one that con­nects them with their con­sumers. Maybe the next emerg­ing artist can imbue more of the mis­un­der­stood, anti-estab­lish­ment trou­bled soul sto­ry into their brand!

- Ellie Hansen for ishi­mo­do

Vis­it Ellie on:
http://www.ishimodo.com.au
http://www.facebook.com/ishimodo

Author: Rhonda 2.0

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