Friday, December 30, 2011

Branding Your Art

Oh no, not more pleading for me to do something with my art—I have my hands full just doing the art—paying for the art—framing the art—now you want me to do something else with my art? It’s too much! Leave me alone!
I will right after I twist your arm one last time. The good news, tomorrow I’m doing New Year’s resolutions so you won’t have to deal with anything except laughing at people who make New Year’s resolutions!

Did you brand your art? That’s right art should have a brand just like Xerox or Coke or Gulfstream. Why do you think advertisers spend so much money trying to establish their products as a brand? Why not just call all cars made by General Motors GM’s and be done with it. Ford has it even easier, Ford is after all a name first and a manufacturer second. Why not just build Fordies?

Because that stinks. That’s right, big-time; marketers listen to the sound of the words that get associated with their products and if it doesn’t sound right you can bet they will be hard at work changing it.

That’s why Carl Benz named his car Mercedes. It was his daughter’s name and very elegant and graceful and sounded good on the ear and filled the mind with the image of a young, sleek, athletic girl, with long black hair trailing in the breeze and bright clear eyes focused on the future.

You don’t see anyone in a big steaming rush to call their new sports car Bertha or Hermione? No and you won’t see any Ralphs or Poindexters in the list of new car models. The big kids don’t take chances that you’ll laugh at their latest and greatest, they plan and test and search for the best, most evocative name they can find.

And that is exactly what you should be doing with your art. Sure it speaks for itself. Just stand back and take a look and there will be no doubt in your mind. But what if it doesn’t get a chance to speak or show? What if it has to show up on a disc and that’s all the introduction it gets?

How is the Imperial Omnipotent Stomper going to make a choice with no snazzy name to guide him?

Oh you don’t?

You don’t get to give out a name, just send in a slide with the artist’s name, the name of the work, the medium and the size. Seems to me that gives you two chances to get a brand name in the works before the Man in the Carpeted Office ever lays a finger on it, your name and the name of the work.

Sure you can call it Acrylic #2. That’s a great name for a tube of paint but not so hot for an image you want to win with.

And even your own name has pluses and minuses. Are you a Simpiqua or a MasterBlaster? If so go ahead and use your name, it will probably stand out. Me, I wasn’t so lucky, my legal name is a family name which doesn’t conjure up anything for anyone outside of the good, ole family and truth be told we’re at a dead end. I never had any children and my sister married a guy. Go figure and the boy got his daddy’s name so how’s that for cutting off the family name?

It wasn’t a handy name anyway, I’ve used Ron since I was old enough to get an opinion and three letters is hard to mess up, even over the phone. But handy as Ron is it is not imperial or imposing. It’s just Ron. So I need something to give my brand a bit of punch. That’s where The South Coast Trawler comes in, much punchier than Ron.

Yes, I know there are artists out there who’s work is so dynamic that it needs no punch, boats, I think Dutch, birds, it depends, photograph, Kelle Herrick, painting, Kimberly Wurster. And it goes on, Susan Lehman does as much for collage as it does for her, S. L. Donaldson, no matter where her imagination takes her, has a palette which is immediately recognizable. That’s all well and good, but what if you have more than one style, think about that.

Then you need something which says “We’re here.”

Making a brand for you art doesn’t mean changing what you do or like, it doesn’t mean you should compromise your talent, it doesn’t mean you should go off on a new tangent; it means you should find something which in a flash says YOU.

I had a delightful lunch at High Tide café over the holidays and the food is the main reason for eating, but I like the art on display there and much to my surprise I discovered Charles of Charleston did the Logo for the High Tide. How did I know this? I didn’t ask Charles, although I’m sure he’d tell me, I didn’t ask the staff at the High Tide, cause they probably don’t know. I went home and pulled out my disc from the first AWE, (Artists and Writers Exchange, if you don’t know you should and maybe if you ask nicely Ava will loan you a disc from the show), and there it was. Why did it stick in my memory? Because it wasn’t the sort of thing I usually associate with Charles of Charleston. But boy did it stick, A BRAND.

My own art is less amenable to such things, it probably won’t show up on a menu, local or otherwise, but I still have to find a way to distinguish it from the art of so many gifted artists. I’ve had a bit of success with some dramatic color shifts and I enjoy the challenge of getting it right, not just any color will work, but that won’t get me burned into the collective memory.

And I don’t want what I do here and what I do for myself to be confused. I try very hard to cover all art here with the ole Trawler. I want my own art to be something different and distinctive.

So I use a different name when it is my art and for the Trawler I use the Trawler name and logo. Yes, you see it every time you stop by to read the day’s posting. I made it up before I wrote the first line for this blog and it worked out pretty good. It’s a brand that people on the South Coast trust. And I am proud that it has come to represent integrity, so I won’t co-mingle it with work that I want my own pound of flesh for.

Make it Job One for 2012 to find and make your brand stand out. So that when someone says, “Who did that tin of tuna painting,” they’ll be the only one who doesn’t know. It’s what having a brand does!

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