Sunday, November 22, 2009

Art as Business: Networking

Working in/on a net? Being a fisherman?
Working on internet? Facebook?
Net, net ... - Netotism - sorry: Nepotism?

working working working (yes, I do that)

Just thinking about all this makes it messy in my head. I just envision tangled threads - and not connections leading to clarity and salvation. I need to get some distance - Professor Hedberg, can you help me out here? (I'm putting on my spectacles and clear my throat)

“Van Gogh never sold a painting in his whole life and now he’s one of the most famous artists in the world”

If you are an artist, like me, you’ve probably had people (especially those who know little of art and art history) telling you this on more than one occasion. (Though I think he sold one, maybe two paintings). People might refer to the myth “suffering starving artist like van Gogh” to prove to you that
- The best artists will only get discovered after their death
- Great art will always find it’s way – in the end - no matter what.

The first argument is actually more an exception than the rule - most great artists (that is: what we consider great artists today) through history were acknowledged, in one way or the other, when they were alive. Second: we can not know what great art was lost and never came to people’s awareness – because we don’t know about it.

Why do people claim that Van Gogh was not acknowledged when he was alive? Because they think that the market’s acknowledgement – commercial success – is the sole acknowledgement. But in reality there are three ways you can be acknowledged:
  1. by the market (commercial success)
  2. by institutions
  3. by peers

Van Gogh was acknowledged by his peers (Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Pissarro were his friends for example) and therefore came to influence many other artists. This made him later acknowledged by institutions (like museums) – and the art market.

You know about the Salon des Refuses? They were exhibitions arranged by the artists who would later become known as the impressionists. They had been refused by the Salon de Printemps arranged by the institutions of that time. The artists acknowledged by the institutions – like the official Salons - had commercial success back then – but if you see it in a bigger perspective: Who are the successful now?

But what has this to do with networking?
Networking as an artist can be divided into precisely these three areas of acknowledgement! (Van Gogh was good at networking with other artists!)

Being an artist you are probably aware - deep inside even if you don't want to do it - that you should network
. You should know the right people, you should distribute your business card, you should network with everyone so people know about you and your art and come to your exhibitions. You might get the advice to constantly expand your network and you might be told that your contact list is one of your most valuable assets.But it doesn't make sense to network in the same way to reach different kind of people - does it? And what do you really want to achieve by networking?

Join me next Sunday when I get deep into how you might think when networking to reach the market, the institutions or your peers!

[this is a post in my series Art as Business. You might access the other posts through links in the sidebar.]


●• Thereza said...

very good observations... those posts of yours always get me thinking... why, how i do things, etc

but i guess one cool factor about networking is the unpredictable set of possibilities it can open and the ammount of kind and talented people we get to meet and e-meet..

great post and i love the little finger-faces :)

Leenie said...

I learn so much from your blog! At least in these times networking can be partially done sitting at the computer. I am continually amazed at how easily we can visit and share with like minds ALL OVER THE WORLD with the internet.

I realize this magnificent tool has many edges. But I, for one, have become much more aware of that when I am in the dark there are plenty out there who are englightened and if I am patient my turn will come.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Thank you! Networking does not come easily to me, but the main lesson that I have learned is that my art is more genuine, I am more true to myself, if I am surrounded by people I trust and whose opinions matter to me. I think that is what makes art movements happen, it's why people gravitate toward their own "muses". It is not that one creates art to impress the group, but rather that one feels safe within that environment to go out on a limb, stretch, push boundaries. And that's how you get to the best stuff. Not to mention some pretty good mixed metaphors : )

Kitty Kilian said...

I like it that you are going to break up the networking business in 3 simple parts for us! Life will become so easy after next sunday!

And I like the fingerfaces too.

And I had to smile about that most valuable assett, your mailing list (a mailinglist is key, I might add).

I guess I agree with Thereza, in that networking may bring about things unthought of. But basically also one just tries out many ways.. some work, some don't.

Marchi Wierson said...

I need this!! I feel like a network, but outcome is unpredictable.